The Interesting Allium Family

A lot of people might not recognize the name; Allium. This is a family of well over 750 species and people are more apt to recognize just a few members of the family. For instance, most people probably know what onions, garlic, chives, leek and shallots are. These are all alliums and this is the onion family. What fewer people know is that many alliums can be grown as decorative ornamental plants. Some of them are quite gorgeous and many are unusual. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has grown garlic chives, which have lovely deep purple early spring blossoms. Many people grow chives in their flowerbeds because of the pretty flowers, in fact. However, many alliums are even more showy. A great example is Schubert allium (Allium schubertii). This plant normally grows less than two feet tall, but it has huge flowers that have a form that rather reminds a person of a fourth of July display of fireworks. Sometimes called the tumbleweed onion, this plant grows from a bulb and it is quite drought resistant. In fact, it prefers dry soil and doesn’t do well in damp areas. The bulbs can be separated yearly and it also seeds itself if the flowers aren’t dead-headed. The flower is usually pinkish purple, though cultivars have been developed that have different colored flowers. This one flowers in the late spring. Another showy allium is Allium aflatunense, usually called Purple Sensation. This species is from Asia and it Continue Reading →


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