5 min read
Though the edible and ornamental alliums have similar growing requirements, most are better grown from the bulb rather than seed as they don’t grow true to type from seed. Alliums come in numerous colors with differing bloom times and heights without taking up too much space, making them valuable no matter the size of your garden.
Allium symbolizes patience, unity, and humility as well as good fortune, making it a popular flower for wedding bouquets and arrangements. With a tall, study stem, allium are versatile and forgiving.
In this article, the following points are going to be discussed:
- * Origin
- * Growing Allium
- * Most Popular Types of Allium
- * Propagating Allium
- * Pests and Diseases
The word ‘Allium’ is derived from the Latin word for “garlic” and was initially only used to refer to garlic, however, it later became the genus name for all onion crops. This includes leeks, shallots, and chives. Ornamental allium started being used as ornamentals instead of solely edibles in the mid-1800s when plant hunters started collecting them. It took another 150 years for them to gain popularity in the horticultural industry. Now, you can find them all over the internet, in catalogues, and in magazines as well as in retail locations. Though technically all allium are edible, the ornamental kinds don’t have as strong a taste and are not suggested to eat, especially if it has recently come from a nursery as it may have been sprayed. Also, if growing allium in your garden, keep in mind that they are safe for humans, but toxic for pets.
Though it is possible to grow allium from seed, they generally won’t grow true to type and some varieties don’t even produce viable seed. The color, shape, and size can vary. If sowing seeds, harvest them as soon as they are dried on the plant and plant straight away.
The best method is to plant bulbs in the fall, watering them in well, then wait for spring. If new to growing allium, purchase bulbs from nurseries or friends. If propagating allium from established plants, dig up the bulbs, divide them and plant separately wherever you wish. You have a better chance for success from bulbs and flowers produce sooner. Ensure your hole is at least 3x the diameter of the bulb. Alliums that form rhizomes can be planted at any time.
Allium are undemanding, making them an easy addition. Choose a spot where they can be left untouched as they multiply on their own. Since foliage tends to yellow and die back on some varieties, gardeners find it aesthetically pleasing to plant allium where the leaves can be masked by other plants. Allium does best with at least six hours of sun but can tolerate some shade. Most varieties do well in pots as long as they are deep enough, moving them during heavy wind or rain.
Well drained soil is needed as they are drought tolerant and prefer soil on the dry side. Add a light fertilizer such as bone meal when planting, mixing it in well as to not touch the bulbs directly. The size hole to dig for your allium depends on the size of the bulb.
Most Popular Types of Allium
Generally blooming from late spring to early summer, some varieties have foliage that yellows and dies back, it’s best to let it die naturally and only remove leaves once withered completely.
- * Purple sensation, the most popular forms an umbel of lilac flowers. Perfect for cut flowers, reaching a height of 28-36″!
- * Globemaster, a popular hybrid with big, globe shaped flowers reaching 3-4″ in size. Foliage withers mid-spring, reaching a height of 30”. Rarely produces seeds.
- * Slightly shorter at 20”, Cristophii has a rosy color and can take 2-5 years to reach its ultimate height. The foliage will die back when flowering.
- * Mount Everest has baseball size white blooms with green centers. As you can guess, this is a tall variety.
- * Lime-green flowers of the Drumstick turn a deep purple or maroon.
- * A dwarf variety suitable for pots is the Caesium. Violet-blue flowers grow to only 1” across.
- * Another small variety is Moly. Unlike the traditional umbel shape, this 8” tall variety has yellow clusters of flowers. Moly can tolerate cooler and slightly moister conditions.
Pests and Diseases
Ornamental allium blooms don’t have an onion smell but the foliage does if crushed, which is what deters most pests such as deer and rodents. Slugs and snails may show up as well as leaf miner, so keep an eye out for those. Slugs and snails come at night and are generally only an issue in wet weather. Hand picking at night is affective as well as a variety of wildlife friendly bait. Removing the leaves containing leaf miner is adequate as it isn’t affecting the plants health, it just looks unattractive.
Downy mildew is the one disease allium are prone to, which looks like gray spots of mold found first on the underneath side of the leaves. Making sure there is adequate airflow between plants by not overcrowding them, and not watering the foliage or blooms can keep downy mildew at bay.
Initially only containing garlic, onion and related crops, the genus ‘Allium’ has expanded to include more ornamental varieties, making an eye catching statement in your garden. Considering all varieties are edible, but ornamental Allium have a unique beauty, this is a plant not to be overlooked. Bulbs are easy to purchase since this plant has gained so much popularity and last for many years in the garden. Never buy bulbs again by learning how to propagate or attempt to sow seeds. There is a variety for all garden sizes and even pots. Read on to see why Allium is an easy addition to your garden and which variety is best suited for you.