Plants in the genus Allium are bulbous herbaceous perennials. Flowering alliums are closely related to alliums we use in the kitchen – garlic, onion, leek, chive, shallot, and scallion. Regardless of species, alliums all produce umbels of starry shaped white, pink, blue, or purple flowers.
Flowering alliums have become beloved ornamental garden plants. Native to Central and western Asia, flowering alliums are grown by horticulturalists worldwide. They are hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8 and are grown as annuals elsewhere.
Alliums bloom abundantly in late spring and continue through summer. Their bunches of small flowers attract pollinating insects to the garden.
Popular cultivars are Allium giganteum, Allium hollandicum, and Allium sphaerocephalon. They put all their energy into producing large, round, purple flower heads rather than big, fleshy bulbs, like culinary alliums.
Flowering alliums prefer growing in full sun and require consistent moisture but good drainage so that the bulbs do not sit in water and rot. Plant allium bulbs in the fall.
Plant them about 2 to 4 inches deep, in rich, composted soil to achieve the best results. One can also grow them from seed. The plants grow up to 5 feet tall.
Agapanthus praecox, also known as the African Lily, is native to the tropical grasslands of South Africa. This herbaceous perennial belongs to the Amaryllidaceae family, like alliums.
Agapanthus has become a popular garden plant throughout the world. It was widely cultivated and hybridized.
People often confuse alliums and Agapanthus because the two plants look remarkably similar. They both produce round heads of starry purple or white flowers in summer.
It is not only the flowers. The long, strappy leaves also resemble alliums.
Agapanthus grows in USDA zones 7 through 11. One should plant them into the ground in the fall and winter in warmer climates. In milder climates, these evergreens can be cultivated in pots and taken in over winter because they are not frost-resistant.
Agapanthus prefers growing in full sun, but they can grow in partly shady conditions. Although Agapanthus is tolerant of even the worst soils, one should amend the soil with plenty of organic matter, as this will improve drainage and help with water retention. These plants must be watered regularly.
2. Grape Hyacinth
Muscari neglectum, or grape hyacinth is another member of the Amarylladaceae family, so is related to alliums. Grape hyacinth is a perennial bulb originating in Europe and Asia. Muscari is a popular ornamental plant in the garden and is widely cultivated worldwide.
In fall the bulbs are to be planted. In late winter and early spring, long, strappy leaves will grow.
Small spikes of violet-blue flowers are produced in mid-spring. They are significantly smaller than alliums, only reaching about 12 centimeters tall.
Grape hyacinth enjoys growing in a sunny position, in sandy soil that has adequate drainage. It can easily be cultivated from bulbs and is hardy to zones 4 to 8 (USDA).
Muscari looks beautiful amongst other plants in the border or in mass plantings. It also thrives when potted.
3. Bush Lily
Clivia miniata, or bush lily, is part of the Amaryllidaceae family, like alliums, and is native to South Africa. Bush lily is a popular ornamental garden plant around the world. They are perennials in USDA zones 9 and 10.
Due to the arid conditions in their native habitat, they are heat and drought tolerant. They are, however, sensitive to freezing.
Flowering in winter and spring, bush lilies produce clusters of large trumpet-shaped blooms. The petals are red, yellow, or orange in color, and rare cream-colored cultivars have been grown.
In their natural habitat bush lily grows in forests. Therefore, they grow best in areas of the garden with dappled shade. Bush lilies also made fantastic indoor plants in pots.
Plant them in rich, fertile soil that has been amended with compost, and perlite so that it is free draining.
4. English Bluebell
English bluebells – Hyacinthoides non-scripta – is a bulbous perennial wildflower which is originally from Europe. They have become very popular ornamental garden plants worldwide, especially in meadow gardens and more naturalistic-style plantings.
They produce deep blue, violet, or sky-blue flowers that look like drooping trumpets on long floral shoots in spring. In the wild, English bluebells grow in vast numbers, and produce swathes of glorious blue color. They are easy to grow from seed and are hardy to USDA zones 4 to 9.
Bluebells grow well in any type of soil, as long as it is well-draining. They prefer growing in partly shaded areas, which mimic their native woodland habitat. They grow to about 12 inches in height.
For masses of purple flowers, water them regularly. Their leaves are long and strap-like, similar to alliums. Mulch them with leaf mold compost.
Hyacinthus orientalis, also known as hyacinth, is a bulbous perennial that is native to Europe. These beautiful garden flowers are renowned for their sweet-smelling spring blossoms. They are cultivated worldwide and are hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8.
There are many different cultivars in a range of colors. 12-inch-tall flower spikes hold long bunches of the star-shaped flowers. Flowers can be white, blue, or purple. Like alliums, hyacinth has long, strap-like leaves.
Hyacinths require moist, well-draining soil and can thrive in full sun or partial shade. They prefer soils that are less fertile and have less organic content. They should be planted late in the winter for a bright, cheerful spring display.
Narcissus, or daffodils are classic spring flowering bulbs. They are members of the Amaryllidaceae family, just like alliums.
Daffodils are native throughout Europe, and they have been cultivated and bred for a long time. There are a variety of cultivars in different sizes, shapes, and colors to choose from.
In USDA zones 3 to 9, daffodils are grown as annuals. Bulbs are planted in the fall, and the winter cold speeds up their growth.
In the spring, they produce long, strap-like leaves and cup-and-saucer-shaped yellow and white flowers. The aroma of the blossoms is enticing.
They put on a spectacular show when grown in huge plantings. There are numerous kinds and planting a variety of daffodils together ensures that the flowers will bloom continually for a long time.
Snowdrops or, Galanthus nivalis, is another Amaryllidaceae family member. Snowdrops are a symbol of the arrival of spring. They are native to Europe and form enormous white carpets in forests and meadows where they grow naturally.
They have strap-like, bright green leaves and form little clusters of bell-like white blooms on long blooming stalks.
In USDA zones 3 to 8, these spring bulbs are grown as hardy perennials. Snowdrops prefer to grow in full sun or partial shade in rich, healthy, well-draining soil. They can be cultivated from bulbs or seeds, and once established, they will spread throughout your garden, forming dense patches about 4 inches tall.
Nerine bowdenii is a perennial flowering bulb that is native to South Africa. Nerines are related to alliums because they belong to the Amaryllidaceae family.
They produce spherical umbels of pink or white trumpet-shaped blooms with petals that curl back. They bloom in the late summer and autumn.
Nerines are hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10. While they are generally low-maintenance plants, they will require some more mulch in the winter, particularly in colder locations, as they are not frost tolerant.
They prefer growing in full sun and are not fussy when it comes to soil type. They can withstand even the poorest, sandiest soils. The leaves of nerines are long, flat, and strappy.
Crinium moorei is a perennial flowering bulb. Crinums belong to the Amyrillidaceae family, which means they’re related to alliums and share a lot of similarities.
Long, slender leaves and flowering stalks that support clusters of big, fragrant trumpet-shaped blooms. The blooms appear in the springtime.
Crinums are a South African native that thrive in USDA zones 7 to 10. They can be grown in pots and moved indoors during the winter in zones 3 to 6, as they are not frost hardy. Plant them in a sunny location with well-draining soil.
They are susceptible to wind damage, so choose a protected location to grow them. Crinums can withstand drought after they’ve established themselves.
10. Bearded Iris
Iris germanica, or bearded iris, is a bulbous perennial that is native to the Mediterranean and southern parts of Europe. They are more distantly related to alliums, but have similar looking long, strap-like leaves. Irises are popular garden plants grown in USDA zones 3 to 9.
From a distance, white, purple, and blue flowering variants look like allium blooms, although the flowers are quite distinct in appearance. They feature six lobed, drooping petals. Plants can reach a height of 40 inches. In the springtime they bloom prolifically.
Bearded irises are cultivated from rhizomes. To keep the rhizomes from rotting, they should be planted shallowly and not mulched too heavily.
They should be planted in a sunny location with well-draining soil. As long as the drainage is good, they can survive sandy, gravelly, poor soils.
Dahlias are flowering perennials that are native to Mexico. They thrive in hot, humid conditions. Dahlia sorensenii blooms for a long time in summer and fall.
It has lavender-pink petals with a yellow center. They grow to over 4 feet tall, and the long stems make them excellent cut flowers.
Like alliums, dahlias are grown from bulbs. Bulbs should be planted in spring to flower in the late summer and fall. They are grown as annuals in zones 7 to 10 but may perennialize in very hot climates.
Dahlias grow best when they are planted full sun. They require regular watering but can suffer root rot if the soil stays wet, so ensure well-draining soil with the addition of perlite.
Ranunculus asiaticus, also known as buttercups, are herbaceous perennials native to the Mediterranean. Buttercups are popular garden plants and due to their long stems and gorgeous blooms make sought after cut flowers.
They are hardy in zones 8 to 10 and are grown as annuals elsewhere. Buttercups flower in spring and summer. The blooms are white, cream, yellow, pink, purple, red, or orange flowers. They have many petals and look like ruffled rosettes.
Like alliums, buttercups are cultivated from bulbs. They grow 1 to 2 feet tall and prefer growing in sandy or loamy soil that is slightly acidic. Plant them in a sunny spot with good drainage. They require moderate watering.
13. Wild Garlic
Tulbaghia violacea is closely related to alliums, also a member of the Alliaceae family. These fast-growing plants are native to South Africa. They have long, strap-like leaves, like alliums, and also grow from a bulb. When bruised, the leaves and bulb smell like culinary garlic, hence the name wild garlic.
Wild garlic produces umbels of pinky-purple star-like flowers on tall flowering shoots. When planted in vast masses, they create the illusion of a sea of lilac. They flower for a long time, during summer.
It is very easy to grow from seed or bulb in most soil types. Wild garlic is a low maintenance, drought hardy plant. Landscapers love to use this plant along the edges of garden beds adjacent to walkways or paths.
Allium cepa, the common bulb onion is better known for its use in the kitchen than for its flowers. It is very closely related to alliums that are cultivated for their flowers. They are usually grown as annuals, and are harvested before they flower, when the bulbs are big and juicy.
When onions are left to flower, or “bolt” they produce large globes of many star-like flowers in shades of white, pink, or purple. The leaves are similar to flowering alliums – blue green in color, long, and strap-like.
Onions are grown from seed, which must be sown in early spring. They like to grow in full sun, in soil that is loose, free-draining, and fertile. One can grow them in rows, like in a traditional vegetable garden, or amongst other plants in the border.
Allium ampeloprasum is the botanical name for the leek. It is very closely related to flowering alliums, but instead of being grown for their showy blooms, they are grown for their thick, edible bundles of leaves that form a dense stalk.
When leeks are left to go to flower they produce large globes of little white flowers, which resemble flowering alliums. The blooms attract many bees, hoverflies, and other pollinating insects.
Leeks are easy to grow from seed. The seed must be sown into loose, well-draining soil in early spring. They grow throughout the summer and are usually harvested in autumn. If left in the soil, they will eventually flower.
Allium schoenoprasum, more commonly referred to as chives in the kitchen, are very closely related to flowering alliums. They actually look like mini alliums, only reaching about 10 to 20 inches in height. They can be grown in zones 3 to 9.
They produce beautiful little pompoms of pink, lilac, white, or purple blooms, which are edible, and look great in salads or as garnish. The immature flowering shoots, called scapes, can also be eaten – they are delicious fried in a little butter!
Chives make great companion plants in a vegetable garden because they ward off pests, protecting vulnerable plants like lettuce, peas, and carrots.
Chives enjoy cooler weather and grow best in fall and spring. Sow seeds out into the garden in early spring, when the ground is workable and wait a few weeks for them to germinate – they can take a while! Grow them in sandy, loamy soil for the best results and choose a sunny position.
17. Elephant Garlic
Elephant garlic, Allium ampeloprasum, is more often grown for its delicious, giant cloves, but this allium species also produces beautiful, big, purple flowerheads in spring and summer, like flowering alliums.
Elephant garlic originates from many regions in Europe, Africa, and Asia. They grow well in USDA zones 3 to 9 and is an easy and rewarding crop to grow in your vegetable garden.
Like most alliums, they prefer growing in full sun. Elephant garlic does particularly well in loose, rich soil that has excellent drainage. They will need regular watering while they grow.
18. Rosy Garlic
Allium roseum, or rosy garlic is a species of allium that is native to the Mediterranean. It grows in the wild and is also cultivated for its relatively large light pink to lilac blooms. Rosy garlic has become naturalized in many regions of France, Turkey, Morocco, and Portugal.
It has a powerful aroma that is enough to keep deer and squirrels from munching on your garden plants. Rosy garlic looks gorgeous interplanted with tulips, or daffodils, because they flower at a similar time, from late spring to early summer.
In full sun, it grows to about 18 inches tall. They prefer growing in soil that drains well, but it not too fussy about the type of soil.
The genus Tulipa has many different species. Tulips put on a dramatic display of color early in the season. Like alliums, they are bulbous herbaceous perennials.
These classic spring flowers have many different shapes, colors, and sizes. The plants grow anywhere from 4 to 30 inches in height.
Tulips are native to southern Europe and Central Asia. These cool-weather flowers are hardy in zones 3 to 7.
In very cold regions, one should lift the bulbs and keep them in a warm, dry place over winter. These prized flower bulbs are rather expensive to buy, so one must take good care of them!
They like growing in full sun but will tolerate a partly shaded position. Tulips grow best in sandy soil that drains well. Soil that is slightly acidic is favorable.
Tulips make fabulous cut flowers. There is truly no better feeling than having a vase of homegrown tulips on the kitchen table.
Lavendula is a genus of flowering perennial shrubs from the Mediterranean. Due to their intoxicating aroma and gorgeous purple flowers, they have become favorite ornamental garden plants. Hardy in USDA zones 5 to 11, lavender prefers to grow in dry, sunny conditions.
It produces masses of purple flower spikes that are nectar-filled in the summer. From a distance, they resemble alliums, especially when planted in masses.
It attracts bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to the garden. The leaves are slender, grey green, with serrated edges.
Lavender can withstand freezing temperatures. The plants are long-lived – a healthy lavender plant has a 20-year lifespan. The bushes can reach a height of 2 feet.
Lavender does not tolerate being overwatered or having too much shade, so make sure you plant it in a sunny position in well-draining soil.
Lavender has a strong scent. In aromatherapy, the scent provides a relaxing effect. The antibacterial and antiseptic properties of lavender essential oil are well-known.
Hippeastrum is a genus of giant flowering bulb in the Amaryllidaceae family. They are distantly related to flowering alliums, which are in the same family. Amaryllis flowers are cultivated in pots to flower over the December holiday season, but depending on when you plant them, they can flower in spring and re-bloom in the fall.
They have been carefully bred and hybridized in the US to create deep red, crimson, pink, white, and even multicolor varieties. The blooms are large and trumpet-shaped, like a lily and each flowering shoot holds several blooms.
The original Hippeastrum species are native to Central and South America. For the best results, plant them in rich soil that drains well, in bright shade or full sun. They are hardy outdoors in zones 8 to 10 and are grown indoors as houseplants in other zones.
22. Daffodil Garlic
Allium neapolitanum, also known as white garlic or Naples garlic is a bulbous herbaceous perennial that is closely related to cultivated flowering alliums. They are also in the Amaryllidaceae family. These alliums grow as wildflowers and are native to the Mediterranean region.
Daffodil garlic only reaches about a foot in height, and it likes to grow in fields and grassy meadows. When they flower in spring and summer, the bunches of white flowers attract scores of bees and other pollinating insects.
They are not frost tolerant and are only hardy in zones 7 to 10. Daffodil garlic can grow in any soil type, as long as it is well draining. They need to grow in full sun and cannot tolerate shade.
23. Prairie Onion
Allium stellatum, or the prairie onion is native to North America. They grow naturally in grassy plains, and rocky fields.
The foliage resembles a tuft of grass – leaves are long and narrow. This species of flowering allium produces a single cluster of light pink starry flowers in summer and fall.
These bulbous herbaceous perennials only reach 8 to 18 inches tall. They are easy to grow from seed and like growing in full sun, in sandy, well-draining soil.
24. Siberian Squill
Scilla siberica is native to Central Asia but has become a popular bulb to grow in the garden for its beautiful blue flowers. Siberian squill is a great supply of blue color for the early spring garden.
‘Spring Beauty,’ a popular garden cultivar, is more robust in every manner than the original parent plant. That becomes apparent as soon as the plant emerges from the ground in the spring, unfolding leaves that are significantly thicker than those of the type species. Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’ has fewer leafless stems and produces up to six blooms per blooming stalk.
Plant the bulbs in full sun or in a partly shaded position. They require relatively moist soil with good drainage. Siberian squill is hardy to zones 2 to 8.
Fritillaries are spring flowering bulbs that are a staple along with daffodils, and grape hyacinth. Fritillaria imperialis also known as the “crown imperial,” is a deer-resistant plant with a bold, gorgeous appearance. It is an unusual-looking bulb that stands 2 to 3 feet tall and has rings of orange, red, or yellow bell-shaped flowers hanging from a crown of leaves.
Native to Europe and western Asia, fritillaries are hardy in zones 5 to 8. They grow best when planted in full sun or partial shade, in rich, well-composted soil. They need regular watering to ensure good flowering.