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Growing Alliums - Ornamental Onions


White Allium Blooms with Purple Pansies

White Allium Blooms with Purple Pansies

Marie Iannotti


There are hundreds of alliums, including the onions and garlic we eat. The ornamental varieties often have leaves similar to onions, as well as the onion’s round ball shaped flower heads. However there are many varieties with star-like clusters of flowers and others, like A. Cernuum, the ‘Nodding Onion’, with hanging pendants of blossoms.

Latin Name :


Common Name(s): Ornamental Onion




5 - 60" H, 3 - 12" W


Full sun

Bloom Period/Days to Harvest :

Varies with variety


Alliums grow from bulbs. They have strappy, undistinguished leaves and straight tubular flower stalks. The flower form in clusters and are best known in the round pom-pom form, but they can be start shaped, cup-shaped, semi-circular or pendulous.

Cultural Notes:

Plant the bulbs in autumn, for bloom the following season. Alliums are not prone to many problems except certain rots, if conditions are too wet. Even deer don’t like alliums.

Maintenance: Alliums do not repeat bloom. Flower heads can be left on the plant to dry. The dried seed heads look attractive in the garden and can be cut for arrangements. Keep foliage watered after flowering, to feed the plant.

Design Tips:

The lollipop shape of the flowers looks charming poking through low growing mats such as hardy geraniums. The shape also works well with other medium height plants like foxglove, that provide a form contrast or Monarda, which provides a form echo.

Suggested Varieties:

  • A. giganteum - Very dramatic softball size flower clusters on 5-6' stems.
  • A. ‘Purple Sensation’ - Very dependable. Nice mid-spring color.
  • A. cernuum. - The ‘Nodding Onion’. Pretty pink, pendent umbels of flowers.
Related Video
Allium Care Tips

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