Alliums are members of the onion family. Their big, round flower heads are displayed on long, graceful stems. The blossoms are white, yellow, pink, purple or blue, with flower shapes that are round, oval or cascading, and heights ranging from 5 inches to 5 feet. Each type of allium adds its own distinctive style and personality to the garden.
Most alliums bloom in late spring or early summer, just in time to bridge the gap between spring-flowering bulbs and summer perennials. Like their vegetable garden relatives, alliums are hardy plants that are rarely troubled by pests or disease. They attract bees and butterflies and are also great cut flowers.
To watch our video about How to Plant Alliums, click HERE.
STEP 1 - KNOW
START WITH A BETTER BULB
When you compare two allium bulbs side by side, it’s easy to see differences in quality. The larger the bulb, the more food energy inside. Larger bulbs produce stronger plants with bigger flowers. When you order from Longfield Gardens, you will receive top size allium bulbs for the biggest, brightest blooms.
BELOW: Our allium bulbs (shown on the below) are larger than others and give you larger plants with bigger blooms.
STEP 2 - PLAN
SUN & SHADE: Alliums prefer full sun, though most will tolerate partial shade.
ZONE & WHEN TO PLANT: Allium bulbs are planted in the fall, after the first frost, and before the ground freezes. The bulbs are hardy in zones 3-8. To find your growing zone, reference the USDA Hardiness Zone Map HERE.
WHERE TO PLANT ALLIUMS
PERENNIAL GARDENS: Many alliums bloom in late spring, just after the last tulips and before the iris and peonies. Their flowers seem to hover over the garden like balloons, before fading away so other plants can take center stage. Some of the best alliums for perennial gardens include GLADIATOR, GLOBEMASTER, PURPLE SENSATION, and HIS EXCELLENCY.
ROCK GARDENS: Some of the most interesting alliums are perfectly suited to rock gardens. These species are smaller in size and thrive in the well-drained pockets between rocks. The best alliums for rock gardens include Allium flavum, Allium karataviense, and Allium sikkimense.
CUTTING GARDENS: Alliums are great cut flowers. Their stiff stems are easy to arrange and the flowers are very long lasting. Planting alliums in a cutting garden ensures you'll always have a plentiful supply for bouquets. Choose several different types so there are flowers throughout the season. Good options include PURPLE SENSATION, ALLIUM ATROPURPUREUM, MOUNT EVEREST, ALLIUM SPHAEROCEPHALON and Allium tuberosum.
CONTAINERS: Many alliums grow well in containers, planted alone or mixed with other plants. Once they come into bloom, the planter can be moved to a prominent spot near the front door or on a deck or patio.
STEP 3 - GROW
PLANTING IS AS EASY 1-2-3
1. Loosen the soil to a depth of 8".
2. Set the allium bulb in the hole at a depth approximately 3 times its height. Add fertilizer if you wish.
3. Replace the soil and completely cover the bulbs. Water the area if the soil is dry.
GROWING TIPS FOR ALLIUMS
Alliums grow best in full sun, though most types will also tolerate light shade. Like most plants, alliums prefer well-drained soil and should not be planted in a soggy area.
Deer, squirrels, and voles don’t like the onion taste of allium bulbs and almost always leave them alone.
Most alliums are carefree perennials that are hardy in zones 3-8. Plant allium bulbs in the fall, once the weather has cooled down and before the ground freezes. It's best to give the bulbs several weeks to establish a good root system before the ground freezes. Herbaceous alliums may be planted at any time during the growing season.
STEP 4 - AFTERCARE
CARING FOR ALLIUMS AFTER THEY BLOOM
When allium have finished flowering, their flower heads may be removed or left in place. In some cases, the spent flower heads can be very ornamental. Keep in mind that if the heads remain and seeds are allowed to mature, they will fall down into the soil below. This is fine if you want more alliums and don't mind a carpet of grassy sprouts. If you want to avoid reseeding, simply remove the seed heads before they mature and release their seeds.
Alliums that grow from bulbs use their foliage to produce energy for next year’s flowers. Always allow the foliage to die back naturally. Once it has withered, it can usually be removed with a gentle tug. When herbaceous alliums have finished blooming, use scissors or hedge shears to remove the spent flowers. This will keep the plants looking neat and may encourage a second flush of flowers.
Want to learn more about alliums?