Allium belongs to the genus Allium, in the family Amaryllidaceae. They are monocotyledonous flowering plants which include cultivated garlic, onion, leek, shallot, scallion, and chives. They are found in many regions of the world with the exception of New Zealand and Australia. Many of Allium species are important crops, such as garlic and onion but this is not why Allium is so popular. Many species produce beautiful Allium flowers that are used for ornamental purposes.
Most of the Alliums are bulb-forming except Allium schoenoprasum (common chive) that grows from rhizomes. Allium leaves are strappy and long. Leaves of some alliums remain attractive throughout the season such as cork-screw allium. Most of the early blooming allium species have foliage that dies back soon as the plants enter a dormant phase for summers. Allium flowers are found in clusters in the form of a pom-pom. However, they can be cup-shaped, star-shaped, pendulous, or semi-circular.
Each species has a different name but generally, they are all called ornamental onions. The blooming season for most alliums is spring or early summer. Some of the allium varieties bloom later in the season, sometimes as late as in fall.
Table of Contents
- Types of Allium Flowers
- Purple Sensation (Allium hollandicum)
- Star of Persia (Allium cristophii)
- Allium Mount Everest
- Allium Globemaster
- Drumstick Allium (Allium sphaerocephalon)
- Blue Allium (Allium caeruleum)
- Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
- Moly (Allium moly)
- Karataviense (Allium karataviense)
- Pink Lily Leek (Allium oreophilum)
- Three Cornered Leek (Allium triquetrum)
- Allium Millenium
- Growing Tips for Alliums
- Maintenance of Alliums
- Pests and Problems of Alliums
Types of Allium Flowers
Alliums are popular for their breathtakingly beautiful flowers. They are one of the most versatile bulbs for summer and spring gardens. The most common and favorite types of allium flowers have been listed below.
Purple Sensation is one of the most favorite flowers of gardeners. It is one of the deepest colored types of alliums. It is strikingly beautiful. Its inflorescence consists of dozens of flowers that are small, star-shaped, and rich violet-lilac in color. They have flower-heads that are perfectly round. They grow on sturdy stalks arising from a group of blue-green, strap-like, handsome leaves. They bloom from late spring to early summer. It has long-lasting blooms. As a cut flower, Purple Sensation flowers can last for as long as 2 weeks!
These types of allium flowers grow to a height of 28 to 36 inches. They are easily grown in soil that is rich, well-drained, has dry to medium moisture, and is sandy to gritty. They require full sun for best growth. They can tolerate drought.
They make stunning garden borders, beds, and cottage gardens. They have a major visual impact when they are planted in groups.
Allium cristophii is a perennial plant that grows to about 50cm in height. It has slightly glaucous, strap-shaped leaves that wither by flowering time. Its flowers are star-shaped and rosy-violet in color. The flowers are borne on globose heads that are 20cm wide. Flowers bloom in early summers.
They grow well in soil that is chalky, clayey, sandy, or loamy. The soil should be well-drained. They can grow well in alkaline, acidic, or neutral pH. They fall under the hardiness zone 5. It takes about 2 to 5 years for these plants to reach their ultimate height of 0.1 to 0.5 meters.
Allium cristophii propagate by seeds. Their seeds are sown in the container when they are just ripe or in the spring season. They are low maintenance plants that require no pruning. They are also trouble-free, as they do not catch any plant diseases.
As the name indicates, Allium Mount Everest is a majestic allium that has baseball-size flower-heads that shimmer with white flowers, borne on tall stems. Each globe of Allium Mount Everest is made up of about 50 or more allium flowers. The flower-heads are about 6 inches wide. Stems are upright and sturdy. Its leaves are basal, semi-erect, strap-shaped, and grayish-green in color. They bloom in late spring to early summer
Allium Mount Everest can grow to a height of up to 3 feet. They grow easily in well-drained, sandy soil, which is dry to medium moist. They are drought resistant. They are ornamental flowers that make stunning garden borders and flower beds.
Allium Globemaster is the most architectural and the tallest among all allium species. It is well known for its oversized flower-head that is in the shape of a globe. The magnificent flower-heads are 3 to 4 feet in size. Allium Globemaster flowers bloom from early to mid-June. The flowers are a deep purple color.
They can tolerate a wide variety of soils. They are grown easily in dry to medium moisture, average, well-drained soil. They require full sun to part shade for best growth. They perform best in sandy soil. Addition of sand to clay soil can greatly improve drainage.
Allium Globemaster is a hybrid between Allium cristophii and Allium macleanii. This bulbous and perennial plant is known for its spherical flower heads. Its leaves are strap-like and grayish-green in color. The basal leaves form a cluster of foliage in spring. The leaves start to wither in mid-spring. It is then when the stout flowering stems grow tall to a height of 20 to 30 inches, topped with deep lavender colored, huge globular flower heads. Flower heads go dry after blooming and they remain ornamental in the garden well into summer. These flowers lack fragrance.
Drumstick allium is a charming species which produces drumstick shaped flower heads that have a rich purple color. They have lime-green colored flowers initially that eventually turn into crimson-maroon to reddish brown color. They are great for wilder borders and beds.
They grow best in well-drained soil in areas that have exposure o full sun. Drumstick alliums grow to a height of up to 3 feet. They fall under hardiness zones 3 to 10.
Blue allium is a bulbous plant. It produces sky-blue colored flowers on flower heads that are about 2 inches wide. They bloom from late spring to early summer. They grow best in well-drained soil with full sun exposure. The plant can grow up to 2 feet tall. Blue alliums fall under hardiness zones 4 to 9.
Chives produce small, purple colored flowers. This perennial plant grows to about 12 to 14 inches tall. The leaves of Chives are grass-like, hollow, tubular that helps in distinguishing these plants. The flowers of allium schoenoprasum are light purple in color. They are star-shaped having six petals. About 10 to 30 flowers are produced together, forming large clusters. Before the flowers open, they are enclosed in a papery bract. The flowers bloom from April till May.
They are suited for light sandy, medium loamy, and heavy clay soils that are well-drained. They can adapt to acidic, alkaline, or neutral pH. Chives grow in semi-shaded areas or in areas where there is no shade.
Allium moly may not even look like an allium because unlike other allium species, their flowers are yellow and not purple. The flowers of Moly grow in golden-yellow colored clusters that look breathtakingly beautiful in any garden. They bloom from late spring to early summer. They prefer well-drained soil in areas that have full sun exposure. They can grow up to 8 inches tall. Allium moly falls under hardiness zones 3 to 9.
Allium karataviense has leaves that are as pretty as the flowers. Pink-colored flowers grow on globe-shaped flower heads. The globes are about 3 inches wide. The leaves are grayish-green in color.
They grow in areas with full sun exposure, having a well-drained soil. Karataviense falls under hardiness zones 5 to 9. Their blooming season is late spring to early summer. The flowers last for a period of 2 to 3 weeks. The plants are about 10 to 12 inches in height. They have a sweet scent. They require warm to cool annual thermoperiodic cycle. They can tolerate drought and hot weather. However, they require moisture during the growing periods.
Pink Lily Leek is a compact, bulbous plant, having star-shaped, reddish-pink flowers. The stems on which the flowers are mounted are gray-mauve in color. Leaves are narrow, semi-erect ad gray-green in color. The plant can grow from 8 to 12 inches in height. Allium oreophilum prefers dry to medium moisture and well-drained soil. It requires full sun for best growth.
They make stunning garden borders, flower beds, cottage gardens, rock gardens and even do well in containers.
Three Cornered Leek is a bulbous, perennial plant that loves shade. It is an uncommon species of allium. It can grow up to 1 foot tall. Their flowers bloom from April to June.
Flowers of allium triquetrum are hermaphrodite which means that they have both male and female organs in a single flower. It grows best in well-drained soil, that is cool leafy and lightly moist. These plants are not very hardy. They fall under hardiness zones 7 to 10. They can grow in acidic, alkaline, or neutral pH. It grows to become stunning edging plants in flower gardens.
Allium Millenium is a bulbous, perennial plant that has large, profuse, rounded umbels that are about 2 inches wide. They have tightly packed rosy purple flowers. The flowers bloom from mid to late summer. The plant grows to 15 to 20 inches in height. It prefers soil that is fertile and well-drained. It can tolerate drought.
The stunning, luminous flowers are borne on stems that are sturdy and upright. The foliage is attractive, with grass-like, glossy, deep green colored leaves. The leaves remain attractive throughout the season. The flowers last for as long as 4 weeks. Allium Millenium is great for flower beds, rock gardens, and containers.
Growing Tips for Alliums
Alliums are fairly easy to grow. These growing tips for Alliums may be helpful for you.
Most alliums prefer a slightly acidic pH (around 5.5 to 6.5). The factor that is more important than the pH of the soil is how well-drained the soil is. If the bulbs of alliums are made to sit on damp soil, they will rot, especially if they are left in damp soil in their dormant phase. Before planting into the soil, you should add organic matter in a good quantity to improve the draining. This would also ensure that enough water reaches the bulb for optimal growth.
The alliums that are bulb-forming (which most of the alliums are) have to be planted in fall. The depth of planting should be two to three times the bulb’s diameter. After planting, water the bulbs well. The blooming occurs in spring.
Rhizome-forming alliums can be planted at any time during the year. The planting depth of such alliums should be the same as the depth of the containers in which they were in. they bloom in late summers.
Alliums can be planted from seeds as well. However, many popular hybrid varieties would not grow from seeds.
Maintenance of Alliums
Alliums are trouble-free plants. They are easy to grow and easy to maintain. They need a regular supply of water while they are flowering, in case the rainfall is not sufficient or is minimal.
You would not any fertilizers or any need to put in extra effort for maintaining alliums if the soil is fertile. However, for a soil that is less than ideal, a balanced fertilizer would be required during their flowering phase so that the energy the plant uses in blooming can be replenished. Alliums do not repeat bloom. Dried flowers look as beautiful and attractive as live flowers. Many gardeners like to spray paint the dried flowers and surprise the visitors visiting their gardens.
Bulb-forming alliums multiply very slowly. They form small offsets on the original bulbs and sometimes on the flower heads as well. After the flowering is completed, these offsets can be removed from the bulbs by lifting them and replanted. However, it may take a few years before they start flowering.
Rhizome-forming alliums can be lifted and offsets can be replanted for division at any time when the clump starts to look crowded.
Pests and Problems of Alliums
Ornamental alliums do not attract a lot of insects and pests. Rodents and deer also avoid them. However, alliums can get inflicted with some fungal diseases such as rots and downy mildew. Since alliums are used for ornamental purposes, these fungal diseases do not pose as serious of a risk as it would have in a vegetable garden.
Snails, slugs, and allium leaf minor are pests that usually affect the alliums. At the time of blooming, the foliage withers off; hence the leaf miner is not very destructive to the allium flowers.
Alliums add beauty to any garden. These easy-to-grow, low maintenance plants are popular all around the world. The numerous types of allium flowers that are available make these flowers a favorite of gardeners!
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