Alliums – Nature’s Glorious Globes
Tulips, narcissi, hyacinths, snowdrops…. there are so many beautiful flower bulbs, and they all have their own charm and characteristics. In this blog series we would like to introduce you to a variety of them, helping you to make the best choices for your garden and grow the spring display of your dreams!
From edible to incredible
While their cousins onion and garlic make our food taste nicer all year round, ornamental onions (Alliums) give us their all in a much shorter time span. However, seeing them in bloom is just as much a feast for the eyes as garlic & onion are a feast for our taste buds. Beloved the world over, and 5-time winner of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit, this easy grower can rise to an incredible 5 feet, and is guaranteed to become the focal point of your late-spring garden.
Since for most people their introduction to Alliums are modest sized chive-blooms, the size of DutchGrown’s ornamental Alliums can come as a bit of a shock. The average height of our Allium collection is 35” but these hulking plants can reach a height of 48” like Allium Ambassador, or even a shocking 60”, like Allium Summer Drummer.
Alliums are fragrant, and much loved by butterflies & bees.
The classic Allium color is purple, followed closely by white. But if you go to our Allium page, you’ll discover that they’re not the only colors: How about the yellow of Allium Moly, the red of Allium Red Mohican, or the intense pink of Allium Ostrowskianum?
- Bloom time
Mid/late spring to early summer is Alliums’ time to shine, providing a fittingly bombastic finale to the flower bulb season.
Coming back every year, and bringing a few more with them every spring, Allium bulbs are both perennial and naturalizing.
- Different types
There are almost as many different Allium types as there are varieties. Their differences lie in the plants’ size and in the way the bloom looks: Classic like Azureum, or unusual like Allium Hair or Allium Bulgaricum.
Alliums like a somewhat sunny spot with well-draining soil. Plant the bulbs in fall, 4 inches deep for the smaller varieties and 6 inches deep for the bigger ones, with their pointy ends up. Water well after planting, and in late May to early June, your garden will be graced by big beautiful globes on towering stalks.
Alliums can be forced but compared to other bulbs, they need more chilling time and more time to grow post-chill. Fill a well-draining pot with soil and place the bulbs with their pointy ends up, covering them with an inch of soil. Three bulbs per 6-inch pot is ideal. Water well, and allow to drain. Place the pots in a cool and dark place for at least 10-12 weeks. Temperatures between 38-42F allow the bulbs to develop good, strong roots. Do check the soil from time to time, to see if it’s still moist enough, and add water when needed. After the first 10 weeks, the pots will need to be moved to and even colder area, where it’s between 32-25F. Here they will need to stay for another 8-10 weeks, again being monitored for adequate moisture. At the end of this second chilling period, move the bulbs to a sunny room, where the temperature is no higher than 55-60F, as warmer temperatures will mean that the stalks will not grow strong enough to support the flower. In this room, the bulbs will need to receive additional fluorescent light, so they’ll be exposed to light for up to 16 hours a day. Once flower buds star to appear, move the pots to a slightly cooler room again (50-55F), as this will extend the life of the flowers to 10 days or more.
- Container Planting
Find a large, deep pot with drainage holes, and fill it with soil. Plant the allium bulbs as deep as possible, with their pointy ends up. Cover with soil and water well, making sure they are in a relatively dark and cold space till at least April, when you should move them to a place that gets as much sun as possible. Alliums in pots are excellent for creating a dramatic display on your porch, rooftop or balcony.
All our Alliums are on sale right now, making this the perfect time to pick the variety that fits your taste and budget. On the lowest end, the remarkable Allium Drumsticks start at $0.18 / bulb for 100, going down more than 40% to $0.10 / bulb for 5000. In mid-range prices, the giant Summer Drummer starts at $1.65 / bulb for 10, going down to $0.94 / bulb for a 1000. Our Elite Allium Globemaster costs $7.95 for one bulb, but gets a 47% discount at 200 bulbs, coming to $4.25 / bulb.
Since their size makes Alliums quite the drama queens, you can choose to either enhance the drama with contrasting flowers like yellow Tulip Sunshine Club, or tone it down a bit by surrounding them with flower bulbs in similar colors, like purple Tulip Night Club or Tulip White Triumphator.
All the Alliums
Let yourself be inspired by our Allium collection, and profit from our Allium sale while it lasts. Our easy to use website will guide you through the purchasing process, and come spring you’ll thank yourself for having invested in your happiness by planting DutchGrown’s top-quality bulbs!