A lot of people don’t actually see onions as beautiful plants, but the truth is that onions as a plant have some very close cousins that certainly deserve a place in your flower garden. Alliums are fast-growing ornamental plant that can grow taller and they also have round flower heads that is composed of dozens of star-shaped flowers. Allium plants are not edible but their leaves actually have a slight onion-like scent when they are crushed. Allium plants are not also bothered by rodents or deer, and there are also plenty of them to choose from for any garden. Below is the basic information about Allium plant;

The botanical name: The botanical name is   Allium.

The common name: The common name is Ornamental Allium.

The plant type:   The plant is a Bulb or rhizome.

The mature size: The mature size is about one to four feet tall, three to ten inches wide.

The sun exposure: Allium prefers full sun.

The soil type: The soil must be well-draining.

The soil pH: This should be around 5.5-6.5

The blooming time: The blooming time is spring, although there are fall bloomers.

The flower color: The flower colors are yellow, pink, white, purple, and green.

Plant hardiness zones: USDA 4-10

The native area: Allium is native to Middle East.

Plant toxicity: The plant is mildly toxic to humans and also toxic to cats and dogs.

Allium Varieties

There are different varieties of Allium. The following are the varieties of Allium;

-         Drumstick Allium variety: The Drumstick Allium variety look best when they are actually allowed to waft their way throughout the garden so that they can surprise you by peeking out through other flowers. The plant flower clusters actually bloom in early summer.

-         Corkscrew Allium variety: This particular Allium has blue-green leaves that twist and turn giving the plant its common name. Corkscrew Allium is grown from rhizomes rather than a bulb and it can be found in the perennial section of garden centers.

-         Globemaster Allium variety: The Globemaster Allium flower stalks are really super-sized and the plant can reach about three to four feet tall, and they are topped with flowers that form a ball that is about eight to ten inches in diameter.

-         The Japanese onion: The Japanese onion offers small 1-inch pink flower heads that bloom in early fall, the plant also form more of a mop than a round globe. The Japanese onion is grown from rhizomes rather than forming bulbs, and they are also available in containers.

-         The Nodding onion: The Nodding onion produces flopping mop heads of flowers in pretty shades of purple and pink. The plant flower stems is about two to three feet. This particular variety of Allium is the most widely adaptable alliums and they can even be grown well in partial shade.

-         Allium Purple Sensation: The Allium purple sensation flower stalks can reach about two feet tall and they are topped with a two to four inch globe of bright purple flowers. The plant tends to be a long-lived bulb, but the plant leaves tend to get brown or yellow quite early.

-         Schubert Allium variety: This particular plant flower heads really look like a fireworks display. The plant retains their explosive look even as they fade. Another name for this variety of Allium is tumbleweed onion.   

How to grow Allium Bulb

Actually, most Alliums are bulb-forming, although there are some that grows from rhizomes, just exactly the way common chives do.

There are some Alliums bulbs that grow quickly and bloom in the spring or early summer after the earliest spring bulbs have faded.

Light requirement

Place your Alliums in a site that gets a full day of sun for the best flowering and healthiest plants. The Alliums will grow in partial shade, give them as much sun as you can since so many of them have short seasons.

Soil requirement

This plant actually prefers a soil pH that is slightly acidic, within 5.5 to 6.5. On the other hand how well the soil drains is far more important than soil pH. Make sure you don’t let the bulbs sit in damp soil, most especially during their dormant season. If the bulb remain wet for too long they will rot. You can also add a good amount of organic matter to the soil before planting to improve draining, by so allowing enough water to reach the bulbs.

Water requirement

This plant need infrequent watering, and if it rains often in your area that should do the trick. If not, watering every 3 to 5 days is fine.

Temperature and Humidity requirement

The plant hardiness actually depends on the variety that being grown and the growing conditions, however most Alliums plants do well in USDA hardiness zones four to ten.

Fertilizer requirement

If you amend your soil on a regular basis, you actually may not need to feed the plant at all. On the other hand if your soil is less than ideal, a little balanced fertilizer as they start to set flowers will really help the Alliums plant replenish all the energy they use blooming.

Growing Alliums in the garden  

The following are the steps on how to grow Allium bulbs in the garden;

- You need to wait until the soil is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. If you are in the North this will be in September or October, but if you are in the South it is October or November.

- Make sure you pick a spot in your garden that has well-draining soil and that gets full sun.

- Make sure you plant the Allium bulbs about four to eight deep and six to eight apart, placing the Allium bulb in the ground with their pointy ends up.

- Water the Allium bulbs well once and then wait for spring.

- After the Allium plant has bloomed, make sure you don’t cut off the foliage. You can leave it until it is completely withered and yellow, and then remove it.

Growing Alliums in containers

Allium can be grown in containers. The following are the steps on how to grow Allium in containers;

- You have to wait until it’s cold outside, with a soil temperature of about sixty degrees Fahrenheit or even lower. If you are in the North this will be in September or October, but if you are in the South it is October or November.

- You have to pick a spot in your garden that really gets full sun.

- You have to find a well-draining container and then fill it with loose soil, make sure that water those not gather and stay at the bottom.

-  make sure you plant the Allium bulbs about four to eight deep and six to eight apart and also place them in the soil with their pointy ends up. Most containers has limited space, you can place the Allium bulbs closer together, but make sure they don’t touch. 

- Water them well once and then wait for spring. But if you live in hardiness zone 3-7, you have to water them well and then bring the containers indoors, in other to let them spend the winter in a cool spot.

- After the alliums plant has bloomed, make sure you don’t cut off the foliage. You can leave them until they are completely withered and yellow, and then remove. 

Pest and disease control

Allium plants don't actually attract too many pests. Deer and rodents normally avoid Allium plants.

Allium plants can be infected with some few fungal diseases such as rot and downy mildew, these disease are not a serious problem in a flower border when compare in a vegetable garden. To actually fix this problem, try and avoid overhead watering and also remove the infected Allium bulbs.

As for insect pests on the plant, try and always watch out for snails and slugs as well as the Allium leaf miner.

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