Sheena’s Plant of the Month: Alliums
Allium is the Latin word for garlic, and 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 firework-like pom-pom heads of ornamental alliums, which come in all sorts of colours from purple to pure white. There are 500 species to choose from, but Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ is generally my first choice.
I often use alliums in my garden design work because their slim, vertical shape means that most varieties 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. 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. Plant bulbs in the autumn, to twice the depth of the bulb. You can find ready grown alliums for sale in garden centres, but they are more expensive to buy this way. Congested clumps can be lifted and divided – straight after flowering, if necessary. Deadhead before the seeds disperse if you want to avoid seedlings – but I’m not sure why you would because they are always a useful ‘give away’ for friends and neighbours!