Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Nodding Wild Onion Project

After eight years of trying, it appears that I’m finally learning how to raise captive Nodding Wild Onions, Allium cernuum.  It’s a good thing too, because the last of the wild plants disappeared from Blue Jay Barrens three years ago.  The onions in this pot represent the offspring of six plants taken from the wild and relocated into my prairie garden.  That left only a dozen plants growing in their original location, a site that was too shady for the plants to produce flowers.  You can read about the original relocation by clicking HERE.

The plants in this pot appear to be doing their best to break through the chicken wire barrier and reclaim their positions as wild plants.  There are more onion flowers this year than I’ve had in total over the last seven years.

This spring, I took a few young plants from the pot and relocated them to one of the native plant beds in my vegetable garden.  All of those plants have grown wonderfully.  They are currently sharing the bed with Spider Milkweed, Leavenworthia uniflora, and Draba cuneifolia.  I think the species in that mix should work well together.

Nodding Wild Onions produce lovely blooms that attract a wide variety of insects.  Here we have a beetle, a fly and a bunch of ants.

The most common pollinators this year are small green Sweat Bees.

Butterflies are not frequent visitors of the onion flowers, but there are sometimes exceptions.  This Olive Hairstreak spent close to five minutes exploring the onion flowers.  The Olive Hairstreak spring brood was quite successful this year.  The second brood is now coming on more strongly than I have seen in many years.

Early onion flowers are already producing seed pods.  I should have ample seed to increase my captive population of plants, as well as scatter some seed out into suitable wild sites.  It’s taken longer than I had originally thought, but I’m now becoming optimistic that this project could be successful.

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