Alliums for your garden – Beautiful and Impressive

Alliums are one of the first leaves to emerge in spring, with chives. Breaking into the sun as early as February.

Early emergence means they have had a long period of photosynthesis before the demands of flowering. That means, by May the bulb will have made enough food to thrive and grow into the following year. It’s worth knowing that allium leaves, like onion skins, contain a strong dye, which will stain yellow, hands and clothing.

Alliums are a reliabe perennial, coming back year after year, but the initial outlay can be large. ‘Purple Sensation’ is famously good value, ‘Lucy Ball’ and A. atropurpureum as another pair that give you a decent show and are quite cheap.

‘Early Emperor’ is a classic, which is usually the first to open the garden, ‘Purple Rain’ has shone through for early and length of flowering. It came into flower a couple of weeks earlier than most (in early May) and is still looking OK now in early June. The foliage is also quite fine, but even so, some leaf removal is a good idea.

The idea of alliums in long grass as you might see in the wild. You might try ‘Purple Sensation’ and the same number of the white flowered Allium nigrum. Its overall height is affected by competition from the grasses.

The alliums fit well into a succession of bulbs in grass, which starts in March with Narcissus ‘Cheerfulness’ then moves on to Narcissus poeticus, to be followed by Camassia leichtlinii Caerulea. These then dovetail perfectly into Allium nigrum. A similar looking A. atropurpureum and a mauve variety of A. nigrum called ‘Pink Jewel’ would be good options. ‘Mercurius’ is another option, but it is pricey.

Lucy Ball is a highly recommended allium because it’s cheaper than most but still gives a good show and has great stature.
Purple Rain Purple rain flowers earlier than many other alliums and lasts longer too.
Spider is magnificent but It’s expensive.
Allium karataviense in its species and white ‘Ivory Queen’ forms are good choices. They’re compact, standing less than a foot tall, yet they have good sized pom-poms.

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9 responses to “Alliums for your garden – Beautiful and Impressive

  1. Jonathan Buckley

    You are using my copyrighted photo of alliums without requesting my permission and without any credit to me or reference to the original article. I have looked for your contact details so I could contact you privately offline but was unable to find them. Please remove this picture from your blog. Thanks


    • Jonathan, I apologize to this unintentional use of your photo. It was found by a search engine and did not indicate that it was your photo.
      It will be pulled down today.


  2. I have the purple flowering chives and once they flower, I cut the tops off and make Chive Blossom Vinegar (using red wine vinegar). It has to sit for a week to get the best flavor but it’s delicious on salads!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love that we have totally different names for the same thing. Our alums are HUGE – right now about the size of softballs. Deep dark purple, and about 3 to 4 feet tall. I posted a nice pic on my Orlando blog – they were in full bloom that day (here is the blog: What you show and describe we just call “onion chives” (we also have garlic chives – white blooms) – they were in our herb garden but have somehow migrated to the front yard?? LOL They just went though their beautiful purple blooms – about the size of a quarter. Thanx for the great blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My non-edible alliums seem to have died a death but the chives make up for them in every way 😍.

    Liked by 1 person

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