10 facts about Alliums

Samantha PillingThe Gardens

10 facts about Alliums

Bees and butterflies love alliums, as do many gardeners. Deer and rabbit, however, tend to shy away from them – and that could be due to the rather pungent aroma they can give off if the stems are broken!

Alliums look stunning when planted in borders, beds and pots. However, they look their most spectacular when planted in groups. They’re great for cut flower arrangements and even dried flower displays – is it any wonder we love them so much!

If you’d like to learn more about these stunning flowers, here are our top ten facts on alliums.

  1. Alliums belong to the Alliaceae family. In total there are approximately 600-925 species of perennial bulbous plants in the family. However not all of them are grown for eating – several species are grown primarily for their beautiful heads of flowers.
  2. The colour range of allium flowers is vast, with them ranging from deep purple and blues, through to whites and greens.
  3. Most alliums will bloom between spring and September. They’re also long-lasting flowers, making them an ideal addition to the flower borders. Not only do they add height, but they also look impressive when planted as a group.
  4. The flowers of an Allium grow on the end of (often) leafless stalks. The flowers are clustered together to form a pom-pom arrangement at the top of the stem. They are often described as looking like a firework frozen in mid-explosion!
  5. Alliums grow by multiplying naturally, so they can be left in the same area for years if there’s room for them to grow undisturbed. They create clumps of bulbs, that can be lifted, divided and separated, once flowering is over.
  6. They like being in a sheltered, sunny spot and planted deep. They can easily be grown in deep pots too. They’re drought-tolerant and happy in a dry environment too, making them low maintenance plants. As long as they have sunlight and well-drained soil, they’re happy.
  7. The flower heads of alliums can be dried and used for cut flower arrangements. As they do not repeat bloom, you can leave the flower head on the plant to dry before cutting.
  8. In flower meanings the allium flower represents unity, so it’s often given between married couples and long-time friends.
  9. The Mount Everest allium is named after the world’s tallest mountain – and it’s known for being able to grow on Mount Everest too! This allium has white flowers and is also a little shorter than other alliums. It can grow up to 3 foot high and produces 6-inch wide flower umbels.
  10. Allium Giganteum is the largest species. This Asian species can grow up to 1.5 metres (4.9 foot) tall, with flowers that can have a 15cm diameter. The Globemaster and Gladiator species are both a close second, with stems that are usually 3-4 foot in length. The smallest alliums, however, are a tiny 5cm high, in comparison!
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