‘Millennium’ alliums smell slightly oniony when their scrappy leaves are crushed or bruised. The rounded, rose-purple flowers reach 2” in diameter, drawing butterflies and bees. Rabbits and deer usually avoid the plants.
Another heirloom allium, ‘Nigrum’ has softball-sized, silvery to grayish-white heads with six-petaled florets. Bees and butterflies visit the flowers, but deer tend to leave the plants alone. Expect blooms from late spring into early summer. Allium atropurpureum is also shown here.
Less dense than some alliums, ‘Graceful’ (Allium amplectens) has heads studded with pale pink, star-shaped florets. Look closely to spot the small, violet-blue stamens. Plant this allium at the front of beds or borders; the magenta stems grow only 10” high.
‘Drumstick’ (Allium sphaerocephalon) adds showy clover-red to reddish-purple color to the summer garden. The blooms are egg-shaped, unlike the rounded heads of most alliums. ‘Drumstick’ naturalizes nicely.
An heirloom allium, Atropurpureum is a great choice for a cutting garden, with stiff, tall stems that support burgundy-purple to wine-red florets. Watch for the blooms to appear from late spring into early summer.
Commonly called 'Star of Persia', Allium christophii has fuchsia to pale lavender flowers and strappy, gray-green foliage. The plants open from late spring to early summer. Let the blooms dry for indoor arrangements.
Up to 10" in diameter, ‘Globemaster' flowerheads are practically as big as bowling balls. They're the largest of the alliums, held atop sturdy stems that grow 2 to 3 feet. These deer resistant perennials make fine cut flowers.
Most cooks value fresh garlic, and many a gardener also enjoys its large spring Allium flowers. The ones that grow best locally are often shared between gardeners, who plant individual cloves in the fall and harvest and dry the bulbs the following spring.
Never underestimate the power of mulch. This simple ground cover provides a host of benefits, including suppressing weeds, helping soil retain water and keeping soil (and plant roots) cool in the heat of summer. Organic mulches like shredded bark, compost or fine forest mulch also slowly decompose and help to build healthy soil. How much mulch is enough? Aim for a 2- to 4-inch-thick layer. Refresh mulch as it breaks down so you maintain that consistent covering on soil.
Plant ‘Purple Sensation’ ('Allium aflatunense) to keep color in your garden after the spring bulbs open, and before the summer perennials start. This allium produces round, violet-purple globes with hints of blue and pink. The stems grow 24 to 30 inches.
Plant this giant allium, ‘His Excellency’, for garden drama. Its spiky, violet-blue blooms start opening in early summer and last for several weeks. Use it behind shorter plants; the stems can reach 4 feet.
Allium schoenoprasum, commonly called chives, is in same genus as the more ornamental flowering plants. Use white or purple flowers of this herb as a garnish, and chop the aromatic stems to add a mild onion flavor to foods. These plants are pretty in containers or a cottage or herb garden.
Easy to grow alliums are perennials, and they’re related to chives, shallots and onions. If deer, voles, rabbits or other animals browse in your garden, you’ll find they usually leave these bulbs alone. Plant alliums in the fall, in well-drained soil, giving them plenty of sun.