Allium: popular garden bulbs

Photo of Alliums

These have to be one of my top 10 favourite plants. Gorgeous globes standing high in the garden giving a slightly contemporary feel to your borders. Fabulous in pots too and many of them in my favourite colours of blue and purple though they are also available in pink, white and yellow.

Even the common and very quick spreading chives look fabulous with their lovely small purple flowers, but my favourites are the big globes such as Allium 'Globemaster', Allium christophii and Allium schuberti .

Nonetheless I also have a soft spot for the slightly less dramatic Allium sphaerocephalon with a real drumstick shape and self-seeding habit and the unusual Nectaroscordum siculum which used to be in the Allium genus but has recently been moved. This has a flower which grows on a tall stalk and then has a clump of pink bells which hang down.

Nectaroscordum

The other beauty of alliums is that they look great as cut flowers, when the flowers have faded the seed heads still look great in flower arrangements and make sure you save some for winter, spray them silver or gold and they will look great in your Christmas table decorations.

Allium growing guide

Allium bulbs should be bought and planted in September, October using the usual rule for planting bulbs of planting to a depth equal to twice the height of the bulb.

Alliums in the garden

Allium bulbs are best grown in full sun. In the wild they often grow in poor, stony ground and so are not especially fussy for soil type, good drainage being the key requirement.In my heavy clay soil I take the precaution of planting on a layer of gravel or gritty soil to improve drainage for the allium bulbs to ensure they do not rot during the winter.

If they like your soil they should naturalize quickly and easily in your soil. They can also be propogated by sowing the seed (though it takes some years to get to a full sized flowering plant), or by digging up the bulbs, removing the small bulbs and potting these up for a year of so before transferring to the garden.

In recent years many varieties of alliums have become cheap to buy meaning that you can plant in drifts in your garden for really dramatic effect.

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