AlliumWith their length and distinct flower shape, alliums give your garden an extra dimension. Allium, also known as ornamental onion, is also very suitable as cut flower, though you do need a large vase.
Spring Flowering Allium Bulbs
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Alliums, also knows as Ornamental Onions or Giant Onions, are perennial bulbous flowering plants of the onion genus, and part of the Amaryllidaceae family (subfamily: Allioideae). Alliums are the largest genus in this family. The generic name Allium is Latin for garlic. Allium bulbs are native to temperate climates in most of the Northern Hemisphere.
Allium bulbs are hardy perennials with showy flower heads bouncing around on tall, strong single stalks of 80cm to 150cm. Ornamental Onions come in a range of sizes and shades of purple, blue, pink, white, and yellow. Alliums have upright to spreading green basal leaves, which generally die down from the tips downward by flowering time and carry a distinct onion or garlic fragrance. Experienced gardeners often plant the tall Alliums at the back of the border, not only because of their height, but also because it provides the opportunity to mask the Alliums’ withering leaves behind foliage of other (lower) plants.
Alliums produce long-lived large spherical, globe-shaped umbels of countless little star-shaped flowers with a diameter from 8cm (the smaller, slightly earlier blooming Allium “Purple Sensation” or Allium “Hollandicum”) to 15-20cm (the tallest Allium “Giganteum”). Flowers appear from late spring to mid summer depending on the variety. The flower heads also dry well with the resulting seed heads having great ornamental qualities of their own. They also make for beautiful (home) decorations.
Planting Allium bulbs
Allium bulbs are easy to grow and generally low maintenance. Once planted, leave them alone and they will come back year after year. Plant your Alliums from September to November in fertile, well-drained soil, at a depth of 15-20cm and 25-30cm apart. Alliums like sun but tolerate partial shade. Flowers appear from May to July and create the biggest “wow factor” when planted in larger numbers. If needed, overcrowded clumps can be lifted and divided after flowers and foliage have died down in late summer.
Tip: Alliums or Ornamental Onions are great cut flowers, both when in bloom and when dried as seed heads.