Allium 101

Are you looking to add a touch of elegance and beauty to your garden? Look no further than ornamental alliums. These stunning flowering plants are the perfect addition to any garden, with their unique spherical blooms and vibrant colors. In this week’s blog, we will explore the world of ornamental alliums and discover how you can grow these magnificent bulbs in your own backyard! Here’s how…

About Alliums

Allium flowers have a unique growth pattern, with the blooms appearing on stalks that are typically leafless. These flowers are grouped together in a pom-pom arrangement at the top of the stem. Their appearance has been likened to a frozen firework mid-explosion, creating a visually striking and dynamic display.

Relatives to Onions

Alliums are part of the Alliaceae family, which includes around 600-925 species of perennial bulbous plants. While not all of them are cultivated for consumption, many species are primarily grown for their stunning flower heads.

Alliums are Versatile

Alliums are incredibly attractive when planted in borders, beds, and pots. However, their true beauty shines when they are planted in clusters or groups. They are perfect for creating stunning cut flower arrangements and can even be used in dried flower displays. It's no surprise that we have a deep affection for them!

Pollinator friendly & Pest Resistant

Gardeners often opt for planting alliums in their gardens because they are highly attractive to bees and butterflies. It is worth noting that these plants are typically avoided by deer and rabbits, which may be attributed to the strong fragrance produced when the stems are broken.

Great as Dried Flowers

Allium flower heads are a great option for dried flower arrangements. Unlike some other flowers, they do not produce multiple blooms, so you can leave the flower head on the plant until it naturally dries before cutting it for use in arrangements. This makes them a convenient choice for those looking to add some long-lasting beauty to their floral displays.

Allium Symbolism

The allium flower is associated with the meaning of unity in the language of flowers. As a result, it is commonly exchanged between married couples and long-term friends as a symbol of their strong bond.

Popular Varieties of Allium

Whether you're an experienced gardener or just starting out, growing allium bulbs is a rewarding and relatively easy task. With a wide variety of allium species to choose from, including Allium giganteum, Allium schubertii, and Allium caeruleum, there is sure to be a variety that suits your taste and preferences.

1.) Purple Sensation - If you're new to growing alliums, a great option to start with is the widely loved and early-blooming variety called Allium aflatunense 'Purple Sensation'. The raspberry-purple flowers have flower heads that are about 3 to 4 inches in diameter. They are supported by slender stems that measure 24 to 30 inches in length. A great choice for cut flower gardens!

2.) Allium Globemaster - The large-headed alliums, such as 'Gladiator', 'His Excellency', and 'Globemaster', are impressive flowers that can reach sizes as large as bowling balls, with diameters ranging from 5 to 10 inches. They are supported by sturdy stems that can grow up to 3 to 4 feet tall!

3.) Allium White Giant - There are two alliums with striking white flowers that are worth mentioning. The elegant 'Mount Everest' features beautifully pure white flowers measuring 5 inches in diameter and grows on tall stems. Despite its misleading name, the Allium nigrum (black onion) is highly recommended for creating all-white gardens. The flower heads of this plant have a unique vase-like shape rather than being perfectly round.

How to Grow Allium

In order for alliums to thrive and bloom in the spring, they require a period of cold weather to establish their roots. Therefore, when you start experiencing the first signs of coolness in the air during fall, it is the ideal time to begin planting them. To grow Allium of your own, try following the steps outlined below for both in-ground and in-container planting!

  1. To ensure optimal growth, it is recommended to wait until the outside temperature drops below 15C and the soil has cooled off. In the Northern regions, this typically occurs in September or October, while in the Southern regions, it usually happens in October or November.

  2. Choose a location in your garden with soil that drains well and receives full sun exposure.

  3. To plant allium bulbs, dig a hole about 4-8 inches deep and space them approximately 6-8 inches apart. Make sure to place the bulbs in the ground with their pointy ends facing upwards. This will ensure proper growth and development.

  4. It is recommended to water your plants thoroughly and then wait until spring for further watering. This approach helps promote healthy root development and conserves water by preventing excessive moisture.

  5. It is important to leave the foliage of alliums intact after they have bloomed. It should be allowed to wither and turn yellow before removing it completely.

Planting Allium in Containers

With the exception of a few steps, planting Alliums in a container can be just as easy as planting them in the ground. The only difference being…

  1. For effective drainage, it is important to choose a container that allows excess water to flow out easily. When filling the container, use loose soil and make sure there is no water pooling at the bottom. This will help maintain proper moisture levels for your plants.

  2. To safeguard your plants during the colder months, it is advisable to bring your containers inside and store them in a cool location like an unheated garage or basement. This will provide them with the necessary protection.

Tips for Growing Alliums

Allium bulbs are resilient plants that are straightforward to cultivate. However, they do not tolerate excessive moisture well. If a bulb is submerged in water, it will quickly deteriorate. Therefore, it is crucial to prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged. Avoid areas where puddles remain visible for 5-6 hours after a rainstorm to ensure the optimal growth of your flower bulbs.

To improve waterlogged soil, you can incorporate organic material like peat, bark, or manure. The same principle applies when planting bulbs in containers - proper drainage is key. Make sure to choose a pot or box with sufficient drainage holes at the bottom.


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