Sunday, November 12, 2006

Allium Species Bulbs

My garden is my gym, my playground and my church. It also serves as a wildlife sanctuary, a bird aviary and a butterfly brothel. But, as of today, it's closed for the season.

Great timing! On the last good gardening day I'll see for six months, my Allium Bulbs arrived! I had just finished planting them when snowflakes began to fly.

Allium 'Hair' (above) is just like it sounds. These odd, hairy flowers are a real attention-grabber in the spring garden. Bloom time is about 3 weeks, 24 inches tall, USDA zones 4-8.

Allium 'Fireworks' (above) stand about 12 inches tall, raining bright purple, yellow and white flowers in late spring. Great for rock gardens.

Give Allium 'Unifolium' (above) room to spread. They naturalize beautifully, creating a pretty drift of star-shaped, pink flowers.

Allium 'Cowanii,' or Allium 'Neapolitanum', (above) has been around since the 18th century. These 16-inch tall, graceful bloomers naturalize quickly. Divide mature clumps in late summer, when they become overcrowded.

Alliums range in height from 6 inches to 4 or 5 feet, depending upon the variety. Rodents can't stand the onion fragrance of these bulbs. And, that's a good thing because this is one bulb that won't double as lunch for the pesky, little critters who patrol my garden.

They're easy to grow and particularly nice for xeric landscapes since they like dry soil, when dormant. Plant Allium 3 times as deep as each bulb is in diameter. Deep planting is important because it keeps the taller plants from drooping under the weight of the flowers.

PS: Ever been stumped on which end is up? Sometimes it's hard to tell top from bottom with strange bulbs. When in doubt, plant bulbs sideways.

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