Sheena’s Plant of the Month for May – Alliums
Allium is the Latin word for garlic. Alliums are closely related to the onion family so chives, for example, have the same growth habit. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love the pom-pom heads of ornamental alliums, which resemble fireworks. They come in all sorts of colours from purple to pure white.
There are 500 species to choose from but Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ is a spectacular colour if you’re not sure which to pick. I use them in my garden design work frequently because their slim, vertical shape means that most take up very little ground space, while adding accents to most planting schemes.
If you want size, choose A. giganteum which can reach 1.2m (4ft) tall.
How to grow Alliums
In general, alliums need a sunny position and good drainage. Given both, they will reappear year after year. However, the closely related Nectaroscordum siculum subsp. bulgaricum is good for a shady spot.
Congested clumps can be lifted and divided – straight after flowering, if necessary.
Dead-head before the seeds disperse if you want to avoid seedlings – though I’m not sure why you would because they are always a useful ‘give away’ for friends and neighbours.