About Prairie Onion: Prairie Onion grows in nearly every state in the Union as well as in Canada, since it adapts well to many different soils. This hardy, pink flowered perennial thrives in rocky bluffs, forests, deserts, and prairies. Because prairie onion sprung up everywhere in the wild, it has a long history of use by Native American tribes and early settlers of North America. Traditional medicinal uses include treatments for congestion, fevers, and infection. The tiny bulbs could also be dried for culinary use in the winter. Though not as common in the wild today as in the past, prairie onion is included in many wildflower plantings because of its delicate beauty and adaptability.
Prairie Onion Germination: For most efficient growth, plant in the fall; the seed will remain dormant until early spring. Prairie Onion can also be direct sown in early spring, after the seeds have been refrigerated for 60 days. To start indoors, keep the seed in the refrigerator for 60 days then plant 2-3 seeds each in individual pots. Keep the soil lightly moist and the temperature around 60 degrees F until germination. Germination may be slow. As soon as the plants are big enough to be handled safely, transplant them 12-15" apart in full sun and well-drained soil. Prairie Onion does adapt well to almost any soil and can survive in shade, clay, or rocky soil.
Growing Prairie Onion Seeds: Keep young seedlings moist until they become established. Mature plants tolerate drought very well and do not often need watering. If excess moisture remains in the soil, the bulb may rot. These plants benefit from being divided every third year, or when the clump expands to 8-10 plants. New plants grow easily from transplanted bulbs. The plant also self sows easily; to prevent this, remove blossoms as soon as they fade. As well as repelling deer, rodents, and harmful insects, this plant attracts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.
Harvesting Prairie Onion: Though the bulbs of this plant do not have much culinary value, every part of the plant can be eaten; the flavor is quite strong, and is best used in moderate amounts or as a flavoring. Both the leaves and flowers have a strong onion flavor and can be used in fresh salads, entrees, or as a garnish.The leaves can be cut any time after they reach a size of 6". The flowers have the strongest flavor at the height of their maturity.
Saving Prairie Onion Seeds: The seed heads develop in early fall, turning pale tan as they mature. When the visible seeds ripen to black, remove the seed heads and spread them out to dry completely. Rub the heads lightly to separate the seed from the pods, and store the cleaned seed in a cool, dry place for up to 3 years.
Detailed Prairie Onion Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Wild Onion, Autumn Onion Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Summer Height: 12-24 inches Spacing: 9-12 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Medium to Dry USDA Zone: 4a-8b Seeds Per Oz: 11,000 Produces grass-like green foliage, and slender stems with spherical pink flower clusters.