When we look at the allium family of plants, garlic, shallots and onions often come to mind. This may seem strange, considering the fact that they’re vegetables, not flowers! That being said, in addition to including various vegetables, allium also includes ornamental flowers.
Allium plants are just as hardy as they are beautiful – and they’re really easy to grow. The flowers are available in a wide range of colours, forms, blooming seasons, and heights. They don’t take up a lot of space and are animal resistant, making them a great addition to any landscape.
What is Allium?
The allium belongs to the genus monocotyledonous that includes hundreds of different plant species, including leek, chives, and onions, to name but a few. The term “allium” is derived from the Latin term for garlic, while “sativum” is the term for planting or cultivating. So, when you consider the plant’s full name Allium sativum it literally translates to cultivated garlic.
These rounded flowers grow in a wide variety of colours and will make a statement in any space. Their appearance can be described as pom-pom-like and they have a faint, oniony fragrance.
How to Grow Allium Bulbs
Find out all the answers to growing allium bulbs, from where to plant to when to plant and even tips and tricks!
When to Plant Allium Bulbs
Like daffodils, allium grows easily from bulbs. These bulbs should be planted in autumn while they’re still dormant. The bulbs are resilient and can tolerate most conditions. Once planted, the roots should sprout, indicating the incoming blooming season towards the end of spring.
Where to Plant Allium Bulbs
The allium flower thrives in areas that have well-drained, rich soil. They prefer the sun but can survive in partial shade. An easy way to tell if the soil provides proper drainage is to keep an eye on the puddle after watering or raining; if the puddle doesn’t disappear, you may want to move the plant to a different location or find ways to improve the drainage. They will not survive in soggy soil. If you are using a container, make sure that it has sufficient drainage holes.
How to Plant Allium Bulbs
Your allium bulbs need to be planted in the sun. If you’re using containers, fill them with potting soil with adequate drainage. Dig a hole about 10 centimetres deep and place the bulb in it with the tip facing the top. Cover the bulbs leaving the tip exposed, and then water thoroughly. Regular watering is needed to facilitate growth.
If you’re growing one of the taller varieties, you’ll need to stake the plant to keep it upright. Once the blooms have faded, leave the foliage uncut. This will allow photosynthesis to take place and allow the bulb to store energy for future blooms. Once the leaves turn yellow, they can be cut away.
Allium flowers are perfect for cutting and putting in a vase or can be dried and used as a dry arrangement.
How to Care for Allium
Allium flowers are easy to care for and require little maintenance to thrive. To keep them at their best, ensure the soil is rich in nutrients and provides proper drainage to prevent root rot and possible plant death. They grow best in the sun but can survive in the shade, or a spot where they get some sun and shade. They’re also happy to grow in dry conditions and are drought resistant.
These plants will spread and grow naturally, which means you can leave them to grow and thrive in the same area for years. You can manage the growth and spread by dividing the bulbs or existing plants and moving them to another location.
You don’t need to worry about pests eating your allium flowers as animals are not fond of the onion smell and taste. The only issue that may arise will be as a result of excess water.
Do alliums come back every year?
Yes, alliums are perennial plants and will return in the early spring of each year.
Do alliums spread?
Yes, the bulbs and seeds of the plant will spread and grow without much input from your side. In most cases, they will spread at their own pace and remain in the same area until they are moved or divided.
Do alliums smell like onions?
Yes, the allium flowers have a light, oniony smell that is off-putting to animals.
Should I deadhead alliums?
This depends on you. If you want to prevent the plant from self-seeding and spreading, then deadheading is recommended. If not, you can leave them to their own devices.
What month do alliums flower?
This will depend on where you live. The allium flower usually blooms in late spring or early summer.
How long will allium bulbs last?
If you store the bulbs in an airtight container in a cool and dry space, they should be able to last for about a year.
Are alliums toxic to dogs?
Yes, onions, chives, leeks and garlic are all poisonous to dogs. This means that most plants in the allium family will be toxic.
Do alliums self-seed?
Yes, as the plant begins to fade the seeds will be released and fall to the ground. If you want to prevent the plant from self-seeding and spreading, we recommend deadheading.
Are alliums poisonous to humans?
While they are toxic to cats and dogs, the allium flower is safe for human consumption. You can even forage for them and add them to salads and other summery dishes.
Which alliums are invasive?
As most alliums are able to self-seed, they run the risk of becoming invasive. The three most common invasive plants of the allium family include the wild allium, wild garlic, and the three-cornered leek.
An Easy Grower
While the allium family is home to fragrant vegetables and herbs, flowers are also a part of this family. These beautiful pom-pom-like flowers not only add a pop of colour to any space, but they also make quite the statement.
They’re easy to grow and essentially look after themselves once established, making them an ideal option for beginner gardeners or landscapers. If you do choose to grow these purple flowers, be mindful of the fact that they can self-seed and spread when not properly monitored.