All in for Alliums

Fri. Feb. 10, 2017

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  All in for Alliums

This week I talked about using the color wheel for planning gardens or checking out pre-planned gardens.  Today, though, I am all-in for Alliums!  The genus Allium (the Latin means ‘garlic’) offers colorful, distinctive, and long-lasting forms that really stand out in the early-summer garden.

Allium ‘Gladiator’

Alliums are sun-lovers and prefer well-drained, even sandy soil.  However, I do NOT have sandy soil and they still thrive.  Deer, mice, chipmunks, and related predators generally avoid this group. Alliums are tough and sweet!  Their blooms are like globe like and in shades of purple to white.  There’s a wide range of options that include giant flowers on tall leafless stalks to compact little beauties.

Allium schubertii from American Meadows

Their leaves are also variable.  They’re tough as they resist drought, critters and disease.   Northern Gardener magazine describes a showstopper in the bulb division… Allium schubertii, which blooms late in Spring.  It is aptly described as a Purple Fourth-of-July sparkler.  It’s flower head and stalks can be 12 inches in diameter!  All of the flower stalks are differing lengths with some of the flowers opening close to the stalks while others may bloom 6 inches away.

Allium ‘Summer Beauty’

While we’re mostly used to alliums coming from bulbs, they have relatives that grow from rhizomes.  They can often bloom later in the season.  In particular is a lovely called ‘Summer Beauty’.  It’s a sterile allium, which means it behaves in the garden slowly widening into a large clump over time.  It’s 3 inch lavender flower heads are tightly globular, and bob beautifully atop bright green foliage.  When the flower heads dry, they add beauty to the fall and winter landscape if left alone.  ‘Summer Beauty’ pairs well with echinacea, nepeta and agastache.

And just to show you a few more…

Hair allium from Brecks
Allium ‘Globemaster’


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