Allium encompasses various plants such as onions, garlic, chives, shallots, scallions, and leeks. They are flavorful, versatile, and easy to grow, making them popular choices for culinary and ornamental purposes in gardens.
- Habit: The genus Allium comprises more than 500 species that exhibit a wide array of growth habits. Some species have compact forms ideal for border fronts, while others, like the giant Allium, can reach up to four feet (1.2 meters) in height, perfect for adding dramatic accents in the garden.
Ornamental Alliums bring an array of globe-shaped blooms in various sizes and colors. They’re known for their striking beauty and unique appearance, making them a standout addition to any garden.
- Hardiness: Most alliums are hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9, which can withstand winter temperatures down to -30°F (-34.4°C). They are bulbous perennials, which means they can come back year after year when given proper care.
- Flowers: These plants bloom in late spring to early summer, showcasing globular inflorescences that range in size from tiny drumstick alliums to large globe-shaped flowers of Allium ‘Globemaster’. Their colors vary widely, including shades of purple, pink, white, yellow, and even blue.
- Benefits: Alliums have more to offer beyond their unique visual appeal. They are known for their resilience against deer, rabbits, and other common garden pests, as their strong onion or garlic scent deters these animals. Many varieties also attract beneficial pollinators like bees and butterflies to the garden.
- Uses: Alliums have culinary uses. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum), garlic (Allium sativum), onion (Allium cepa) and shallot (Allium cepa Aggregatum) are all widely used in cuisines worldwide.
In the garden, ornamental alliums offer structure, height, and a burst of color that works well in various settings. They’re particularly effective when planted in large groups for a dramatic display. In addition to their outdoor uses, alliums make for long-lasting cut flowers and can be dried for further use. They bring an architectural element to gardens and landscapes, providing interest even after their blooms have faded.