Category: Flowers and Plants

Great Design Plant: Ornamental Allium

Landscapes on recently have put onions in my head — and I’m not considering edible gardening. Relative to the edible onion, the decorative allium is a longtime cottage garden companion, but it can embellish gardens of all sizes and styles. Bordering on cartoonish, allium’s globular blossoms add a new shape to the landscape.

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Botanical name: Allium spp
Common names: Allium, decorative onion
USDA zones: 3 to 9, based on species
Water requirement:Regular water whilst blooming
moderate requirement: Entire sun
Mature size: Varies by species
Tolerances/environmental advantages:Drought tolerant, deer and pest resistant

Each spring and summer, orbed clusters of pink, white, purple, crimson, yellow and blue blossoms appear on the tops allium’s tall, leafless stalks, which makes the backyard a living party. Floral lollipops poke their heads over encircling foliage and provide a friendly backyard welcome. I feel like these blossoms are smiling if they can.

With over 500 species to choose from, it can be tough to pin down which allium is right for you. For the time being, here are three highly rated and popular allium species.

The New York Botanical Garden

Among the tallest of this genus, Allium ‘Globemaster’ (zones 4 to 9) can develop 3 to 4 feet tall. Lavender clusters 6 to 8 inches blossom in late spring and persist into summer. Described as one of the easiest alliums to grow, Globemaster is a go-to choice for floral design.

The New York Botanical Garden

Coming at a litte smaller is Allium hollandicum‘Purple Sensation’ (zones 4 to 8). Over 2 feet tall, it generates 2- to 4-inch blossoms. Along this walk in The New York Botanical Garden, the dark purple blossoms of Purple Sensation appear to float over the tops of its foliage, directing visitors along an ethereal pathway.

The New York Botanical Garden

The giant onion Allium giganteum‘White Giant’ (zones 5 to 9), can develop 5 feet tall. Its bright lilac blossoms lighten the backyard, and its height makes it good for background planting.

How to utilize it. For such a huge plant, allium’s tall flower stems create the vast majority of its volume. The architectural stalks lead the eye up into the vertical plane whilst occupying a more compact footprint, which makes it great for smaller gardens or other narrow planting areas — borders, planters or containers.

Plant alliums at one species mass or intermixed with other folks. Shown in the gardens of Edith Wharton’s property, lower growing plants surround the alliums and will hide their dying foliage once they’ve finished blooming for the season.

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As cut flowers, alliums make quite the statement-making floral arrangement. Whether dried or fresh, they bring a sumptuous piece of the garden inside.

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Planting notes. I’ve heard alliums called the perfect low-maintenance perennial bulb. They’re sturdy, easy-to-grow, magnificent bloomers that return every year. Plant bulbs in fall, in well-drained, sandy land. Amend the soil with organic matter prior to planting.

Alliums flower in summer and spring. As soon as they’ve finished flowering, you can cut back on watering — yellowing foliage is going to be your cue. The foliage will die to the ground in most climates, and you can just allow it to be.

Your alliums will continue to blossom in subsequent years. Clumps can be split once the beds begin to crowd or when you want to disperse alliums to other parts of the backyard.

More excellent design blossoms:
Canna Lily | Catmint | Golden Creeping Jenny | Pacific Coast Iris | Plumbago
Red Kangaroo Paw | Sally Holmes Rose | Slipper Plant | Snake Flower

Great design trees:
Dove Tree | Bald Cypress | Chinese Witch Hazel | Western Maple | Manzanita | Persian Ironwood | Smoke Tree | Texas Mountain Laurel | Tree Aloe

Great design plants:
Euphorbia | Red-Leafed Mukdenia | Blue Chalk Sticks | Hens-and-Chicks | Redtwig Dogwood | Toyon

Great design grasses:
Black Mondo Grass | Cape Rush | Feather Reed Grass | New Zealand Wind Grass

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