Captivating alliums must be included in your spring blooming bulb shopping! These grand purple spheres add drama to any garden. Also called ornamental onions, alliums are part of the onion and garlic family, though thankfully these stellar bloomers do not bear much familial scent. Alliums are best known for their impressive ‘purple ball’ blooms, but they do come in white, pink, yellow, blue and shades of purple and mauve. The blooms can be the size of a golf ball or as big as a bowling ball. Bunches of wide green blades erupt in the spring, followed by sturdy thick stems, buds and then the brilliant blooms. Alliums bloom from spring into summer, and most have intriguing seed heads. As with any spring blooming bulbs, you leave the foliage to brown and feed the bulbs for next year’s show, so planting amongst other perennials and shrubs will cover for later in the season. As an extra benefit, squirrels, deer and bunnies are not fond of alliums. Some of my favourite varieties include – Purple Sensation (most popular), Globemaster (huge blooms), Azureum (also called ‘blue of the heavens’, amazing colour), Ivory Queen (snowy white balls) and Stars of Persia (magical starry blooms).
Technical stuff – Perennial spring blooming bulbs to Zone 4 (or some Zone 3 with lots of mulching), height of 6” to 3’+ depending on variety, preferring full sun and good drainage, plant bulbs out in fall.