Alliums are hardy, bulbous perennials with an elegant yet dramatic, sculptural appearance. Ornamental varieties create a showy display of star-or-bell-shaped flowers, forming spherical flower heads atop straight, leafless stems. Varieties flower from late spring to summer, so you haven’t missed out on this year’s flowering yet!
The Features of Allium
Perfect for Pollinators
Alliums are the perfect addition to a wildlife garden. Their colourful globes of flowers attract bees and other pollinators. Alliums are a great option for this benefit alone, but there are plenty more, too!
This genus includes edibles like onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks, so even most of the non-edible ornamental species come with a signature onion or garlic fragrance. Whilst Alliums are a welcome sight to pollinators, the scent repels deer, rodents, and other pests (win-win!).
Fireworks of Colour
As they bloom, they are best compared to an explosion of fireworks, bursting into colour with dozens of brilliant purple, blue or white flowers.
If you are looking for a colourful variety, Allium caeruleum delights with clear blue globes, whilst Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ displays densely packed umbels of vivid purple flowers. For a more minimalist option, Allium nigrum blooms from early summer with rounded clusters of open, creamy-white flowers.
Cutting and Drying
A great addition inside and out, Alliums make stunning fresh-cut flowers, which can be enjoyed inside the home for up to two weeks. You can also keep their seed heads and create dried flowers, which create an amazing silhouette (ideal for using as Christmas decorations!).
A species of the Allium family, Nectaroscordum siculum has a unique flower silhouette, with an umbrella of hanging, bell-shaped flowers.
Easy to grow
Tough plants, Alliums are not needy, and will come back year after year. They can pretty much be planted and left to their own devices. Drought tolerant, they require little watering if planted directly in the ground.
Where to Plant
Alliums thrive in full sun and a well-drained soil.
Versatile, they can be planted in pots or directly in the ground. Some gardeners may even want to plant them in sunken pots, to move them around at free will. This provides flexibility, with the opportunity to create an ever-changing landscape.
Planting different varieties can create a dramatic visual impact, whilst offering a variety of colours, heights, and sizes. Allium stipitatum ‘Mount Everest’ is a tall variety, growing up to 1.2m, ideal for adding height to a border amongst other late spring-flowering bulbs. Smaller varieties like Allium ‘Summer Beauty’ are more suited to containers, as well as planting in beds and borders in clusters of 3 or 5.
You can grow your own baby Alliums from seed, utilising existing and established plants. Collect a ripe seed from flowerheads and sow it straight away.
With very little to no maintenance, Alliums will flourish into dramatic, ornamental focus points.
Feeling inspired? Check out our range of Potted Alliums here.