Your Guide to Alliums | Midwest Living

Your Guide to Alliums

If you’ve ever watered a pot of chives, you’ve grown alliums (aka ornamental onions). Now meet the rest of the family.

Resistant to deer and rabbits, alliums are a cinch to grow. In fall, plant bulbs in sunny, well-drained soil. Bury them three times as deep as the bulb is tall. Foliage often fades before flowers bloom in mid-spring and early summer, so tuck bulbs among small shrubs or perennials to hide yellowing leaves. 


(Left to right in photo)

Allium Christophii These softball-size blooms have a celestial quality, with loose bunches of starry flowers floating 15 to 20 inches above the ground.

Allium Caeruleum A true blue like this is a rarity. Petite flowers sit like lollipops on wiry 12- to 18-inch stems. Plant groups of five to seven bulbs among a ground cover.

Allium Unifolium Tiny pink flowers form delicate, flattened globes. Since this American native is small (just 10 to 15 inches tall), cluster groups of bulbs along a path or in front of a border.

Allium 'Gladiator' This is the classic allium, a dense orb that grows 24 to 36 inches tall to peek up from the back of a bed. 

Allium 'White Giant' Grapefruit-size spheres add big, bright drama from an almost comically tall perch (36 to 48 inches!). Plant at the rear of a border for an architectural accent.

Allium Schoenoprasum Garden chives grow in dense clumps, and both the leaves and flowers are edible. Remove spent blossoms to prevent self-seeding.

Allium 'purple sensation' This richly colored mid-spring bloomer is one of the earliest alliums to present itself.

Allium 'Mt. Everest' Large, snowy  white balls bloom on 24- to 36-inch stems in late spring.

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