All About Alliums: A Planting Guide For Deep Purple and Pink Spring Color

Posted on Oct 24, 2016 | No Comments

Spring is probably far from your mind, as the change of seasons is in full swing and fall is reaching its peak. It may seem a bit bizarre to be publishing a blog post about spring flowers in mid-October, but if you want a beautiful show of spring color int the garden, now is precisely the time to get planting. Specifically, it’s the time to plant your bulbs, and this year we’re crazy about all things Allium.

You’ve probably heard of Alliums in a culinary context — Allium is actually the Latin word for garlic. However, Allium is a large genus of flowering plants that includes not only common edibles like garlic, onion, leek and chive, but also gorgeous ornamental species. Their unique spherical-shaped globes of clustered starry flowers add the most fabulous kiss of drama to any yard.
Plus, they make for excellent companion plants to especially tasty flowers and vegetables, as they prove resistant to deer, rabbits, rodents, and the like.

Here are a few of our favorite ornamental Allium species to plant this fall.

All About Alliums: A Planting Guide for Deep Purple and Pink Spring Color

Our 7 Favorite Ornamental Allium Species

  • Allium Ambassador– Why we love it: With deep and brilliant starry clusters, A. ambassador is one of the longest-blooming of the Alliums. These purple beauties are giant, showcasing 7” globes and reaching up to 48” tall.
    – Size: 7” globes, grows upwards of 48”
    – Bloom time: June and July
    – How to plant: Bulbs should be spaced 8” – 10” apart, 6” – 8” deep
    All About Alliums: A Planting Guide for Deep Purple and Pink Spring Color
  • Allium Carinatum S. Pulchellum– Why we love it: A smaller variety of ornamental Allium with decorative and pendulum-like dramatic flowers. 2” – 3” clusters of violet-red umbels perch atop slender stems, each individual umbel is decorated with a deep magenta midvein and protruding anthers.
    – Size: 2” – 3” bulbs, grows upwards of 16”
    – Bloom time: June and July
    – How to plant: Bulbs should be spaced 3” – 4” apart, 4” deep
    All About Alliums: A Planting Guide for Deep Purple and Pink Spring Color
  • Allium Christophii– Why we love it: A. Christophii have fragrant and sharp, starry flowers that contrast against their cotton ball shape. This ornamental Allium ranges from metallic pink to wild amethyst hues. Their common name is Star of Persia.
    – Size: 8” – 10” globes, grows upwards of 36”
    – Bloom time: May through July
    – How to plant: Bulbs should be spaced 8” – 10” apart, 6” – 8” deep
    All About Alliums: A Planting Guide for Deep Purple and Pink Spring Color
  • Allium Firmament– Why we love it: A hybrid plant that takes its sultry coloring from A. atropurpureum, and a metallic, sharp flower from A. christophii. These mid-sized Alliums provide a beautiful bite of intense color to your softer summer blooms.
    – Size: 4” – 5” globes, growing between 24” – 32”
    – Bloom time : May through June
    – How to plant : Bulbs should be spaced 8” – 10” apart, 6” – 8” deep
    All About Alliums: A Planting Guide for Deep Purple and Pink Spring Color
  • Allium Globemaster– Why we love it: Clusters of A. globemaster look particularly handsome when planted among different varieties of contrasting flowers, like Delphiniums and Peonies. These grand blooms are the result of a cross between A. christophii and A. macleanii.
    – Size: 10” bulbs, grows between 36” to 48”
    – Bloom time : Early to mid June
    – How to plant : Bulbs should be spaced 8” – 10” apart, 6” – 8” deep
    All About Alliums: A Planting Guide for Deep Purple and Pink Spring Color
  • Allium Karataviense– Why we love it: One of the few ornamental Allium species to produce beautiful foliage; misty grey-blue leaves emerge in late winter, shooting up a short stalk in early spring. Between May and June the perfectly round globe of the A. karativiense dazzles with the palest of pink star-shaped flowers. This Allium is drought-tolerant and loves hot, dry sunny spots
    – Size: 5” globes, 8” stems surrounded with lush foliage
    – Bloom time: May and June
    – How to plant: Bulbs should be spaced 3” – 4” apart, 4” deep
    All About Alliums: A Planting Guide for Deep Purple and Pink Spring Color
  • Allium Siculum Bulgaricum– Why we love it: Called Sicilian honey garlic, A. siculum has umbrella shaped flowers interspersed with colors of cream, magenta, and green. These dramatic Alliums are tall with small clusters of erratically-shaped globes. The subsequent dried seed pods are lovely in floral arrangements.
    – Size: 2” loose-shaped bulbs, can grow up to 48” tall
    – Bloom time : May and June
    – How to plant : Bulbs should be spaced 3” – 4” apart, 4” deep
    ornamental-alliums-6

Each of the above Allium bulb species are available for purchase by special order. Please contact us to request your bulbs.

How To Plant Allium Bulbs

When to Plant: Plant your Allium bulbs in early autumn when the soil is still warm but nighttime temperatures are cool.

Soil: Alliums prefer well-draining soil. Make sure the area you intend to plant your allium bulbs has proper drainage. You can improve drainage by adding grit or pumace to heavy soils.

Sun: Most Alliums will thrive best in full sun. Make sure you have the proper exposure when planting your bulbs.

Spacing:Allium bulbs vary greatly in size. Small to medium sized bulbs can be spaced about 3-4″ apart, whereas larger species need at least 8″ between the bulbs in order to thrive. See the specific instructions about the bulb varieties, above, and adjust accordingly.

Planting Depth: Dig a hole for each bulb that’s about four times as deep as the diameter of the bulb. For example, if your bulb measures 1″ across, plant it about 4″ deep. See the specific instructions about the bulb varieties, above, and adjust accordingly. Alliums can also do well in deep containers.

Propagation: Many Allium bulbs will product offsets, which can be harvested and propagated into additional plants! Once flowering has completely finished and the leaves have died back on your plant, lift the bulb out of the soil and gently detach the offset. Other Allium species will produce aerial bulbs in the flower head, which you can also harvest and plant in compost.

What are your favorite Allium Species? Have you planted your Allium Bulbs? Share your questions and stories with us in the comments!

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