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Awesome Alliums

by bulbguy

Allium_purple_sensation.large
Allium 'Purple sensation'

Spectacular! Imagine flower heads that look like fireworks, exploding in the garden! Can you imagine flowering onions—not your everyday, ordinary garden-variety onions, mind you, but beautiful, ornamental onions putting on a show in your garden?

Otherwise known as alliums, this impressive group of flowering bulbs has much to offer. Until the past decade, few alliums have been widely available for cultivation in gardens. Under appreciated, many gardeners thought of them as weedy plants, but times—and desires—have changed. Gardeners with a good eye for creating a special look in their garden have found new varieties of alliums that make welcome additions to their plant palettes. In fact, these beauties have become a hot collectable.

It’s all in the family

As with their cousins—onions, leeks, shallots, and chives—you’ll notice an oniony aroma when you cut or crush the plants, but it dissipates quickly. Also like their cousins, alliums’ foliage is mostly fine and swordlike; it’s barely noticeable in the garden. It’s the flowers that put on a show. Most allium blooms consist of small star-shape flowers in globe-shape clusters, or umbels, atop naked stems. Some of the blooms are grandiose, even comical.

You’ll find allium varieties to suit most needs, in a complete range of heights and flower sizes. Most are suitable for the perennial border; just plant them in the front, the middle, or the back of the bed depending on their mature height. Alliums also make excellent cut flowers, both fresh and dried. The small varieties (under 12 inches) look great in a rock garden or a large container.

Treat them right

Many alliums originated in Africa, so they’re accustomed to hot, dry conditions. All they require is well-drained soil in a sunny location to perform marvelously. Some varieties tolerate partial shade. Best of all, alliums resist pests—from insects to rodents and deer. This makes them easy to maintain and long lasting as well.

Alliums spread readily, with no help from the gardener, so their display gets bigger and better each year. Like most spring-flowering bulbs, alliums are best planted in the fall, so now is the time to choose which of these beauties to add to your garden.

Click here for some of my favorite alliums!

Tags

spring blooming, cut flowers, Bulbs, Alliums, bulb

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