Plant Profile: Allium
Also known as flowering onion and ornamental onion flower, alliums are perennial bulbous plants that produce attractive pompom-like flowers. There are more than 700 different types of alliums, varying in colours and sizes. Flower heads can range anywhere from 2 to 25 cm (~1-10 inches) in diameter. Most alliums come in shades of pink, blue and purple, but there are white and yellow varieties, as well. They also range in height, from 15cm to 1m (0.5 ft to 3.2 ft) tall!
Interesting Facts about Allium:
The name Allium is the Latin word for garlic
Allium flowers are edible, but some species are toxic to cats and dogs
In the language of flowers, allium represents unity
Alliums are ideal for any garden, as they don't take up a lot of space. The taller varieties would be perfect for borders. They are easy to grow, drought tolerant and deer resistant. Bulbs should be planted in the fall for spring flowering.
Alliums can grow in just about any soil condition, as long as it is well-drained. They do best in full sun and don't need a lot of watering. In fact, the plants prefer the soil to be on the drier side. Plant taller varieties in a shady spot, as the large and heavy flower heads on tall, narrow stems make them easy to blow away.
Once the plant has finished flowering, it should be dug up and stored for next season. Lift and divide clumps of flowers when the flowers have faded. Deadhead before the seeds disperse if you want to avoid seedlings.Alliums make good cut flowers and are generally available from May to September. They can last anywhere from 12-20 days. Alliums can be used in both fresh and dried arrangements. Many of the flowers will have a faint garlic smell to them, but once they are cut and put into water, the scent will disappear. Larger varieties like the 25cm globe A. globemaster would be stunning in any floral arrangement!