Alliums are surely some of the most dramatic of the garden bulbs. They provide architectural elegance with fabulous flowers in all shapes and sizes. Every garden has room for Allium bulbs whether it be in broad borders or small patio pots. They can be planted from September to November.
Alliums are herbaceous perennials and fairly drought tolerant but moisture is important especially from late April to July as the root system does not like to dry out. Poor flowering is generally due to the wrong growing conditions such as shallow planting or plating in wet soil or soil that is too dry.
Alliums love full sun, give them a good nitrogen/potash fertiliser every couple of weeks as soon as you see the flowers appear. Fertilising can be stopped once the flowers fade. Alliums are usually pest free although they are prone to attack from allium leaf miner, slugs, snails and onion maggot. Onion maggots will bore into the allium to feed and destroy the bulb. You will see the leaves turning yellow and stems wilting at which point it is best to remove the plant and destroy it. To avoid this problem it is advisable not to plant allium bulbs where you have previously planted onions.
Alliums are perfect for cut flowers and the larger flower heads make excellent dry flowers. Spraying the dry heads with a little metallic make fabulous festive decorations or floral arrangements.
Allium foliage is not the prettiest. As the flower bud begins to grow, the foliage of many allium bulbs naturally starts to turn yellow and dies back. It’s best to use companion planting to camouflage the leaves as they die back. Plant them amongst Hostas, Roses, Geranium, Paeonies and Lavenders or any green or silver leaf foliage to add contract to the tall stems and round heads of the larger varieties.
Allium Schubertii is a real firework in the garden resembling a sparkler in full flow. It may only reach around 40 cm in height but the fantastic flower more than makes up for the lack of height.
Allium Christophii has lovely metallic lilac star shaped flowers on large heads that gleam in the sunlight they stand proud at around 60 cm high.
The flowers of the Allium Sphaerocephalon (also know as the Drumstick allium) appear in July which extends the flowering season of allium bulbs. They flower on wiry stems which bend in the breeze to add a wonderful compliment to grasses or meadow planting.
Allium Siculum (Nectaroscordum) is the circus performer of the alliums. The flowers appear from the seed heads starting upright then drop their heads. The lovely, nodding bells of muted mauve and greenish white flowers bring a little architecture and height to the border. When the flowers fade they stand back up straight again.
The following Allium bulbs have all gained the Royal Horticultural Society AGM. Aflatunense – Azureum (Caeruleum) – Beau Regard – Carinatum Pulchellum and Album – Christophii – Flavum – Giganteum – Gladiator – Globemaster – Karataviense – Moly Jeannine – Purple Sensation – Schubertii –Unifolium.