A Spring to Summer Staple in the Garden
Alliums are stalwarts, the backbone of the late spring and early summer garden. Always at Chelsea Flower show and frequently making an appearance in high-end florists, these versatile spring bulbs are reliable, easy and beautiful. Globes of star-like blooms positively float atop long stems in border displays, suiting and scheme from prairie to tropical to cottage garden. Now is the moment for alliums, and the time to appreciate and enjoy the fun and exciting forms. But now is also the time to plan ahead, and by choosing varieties and even pre-ordering bulbs over the next few months you can ensure that alliums grace your borders next summer.
Alliums can be planted any time from September to November, before the ground freezes, allowing them to get growing before the cold of winter properly sets in. They prefer well-drained soil in a sunny location, mimicking their native environments in prairie meadows. Plant the bulbs 2-3 times deeper than the height of the bulb and add grit to the planting hole and surrounding soil in order to improve drainage, namely if your soil is heavy clay. While these instructions may appear tricky and specific, alliums are exactly the opposite, and the truth is that they are some of the easiest spring bulbs to grow as they will readily thrive. Many varieties will come back bigger, better and stronger each year, expanding through self-sowing across borders. Most allium growers always have the problem of too many plants, rather than too few!
But which allium variety is best for your garden?
A classic, stalwart variety which is unmissable is Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ – a famous variety across the gardening world known for its reliability and classic bright purple flower heads atop medium-height sturdy stems.
If you want to elevate your border even further, then allium ‘Summer Drummer’ is the one for you, with flower heads atop stems which can exceed six feet tall!
If purple doesn’t suit your palette, then that does not rule out alliums for your garden in the least. In fact, the opposite is true as stunning white varieties such as Allium ‘Arctic Snow’ provide cooler and calmer white tones.
If you want to add extra drama and interest through your planting, try a more flamboyant and ostentatious variety like Allium Schubertii, which bears flowers of differing lengths on each head, creating a celestial-like appearance which is sure to add interest.
These varieties are sure not to disappoint, and the best part is they’re all available to preorder now at the Rose Press Garden for delivery this autumn, meaning it has never been easier to plan ahead for stunning displays next spring.
There are few problems you could face with alliums, however there are a few key things to remember when planting or growing. These bulbs love sunshine and require free-draining soil which does not get waterlogged in winter, so it is key to assess planting location to ensure they will thrive. Another thing which will appreciate your alliums almost as much as you do are deer – and if you struggle with them nibbling your roses then a good solution would be to plant them near the house or in a large container, away from unwanted lunchers! But don’t worry, your alliums will also be visited by pollinators; bees and butterflies alike adore the nectar-rich blooms. Finally, the strappy leaves of alliums may become brown and wilted even when the plant is in full, healthy bloom. However tempting it may be to prune or remove them, the leave photosynthesise for the plant, and ensure the bulb has enough energy stored to produce an even better display next season. Therefore, a great solution is to plant alliums amongst other plants, a great companion being grasses, which will mask these leaves, adding neatness and coordination to your border.
However, perhaps the most important thing to remember about alliums is: don’t overthink them! Despite the complex and detailed look of the flowers, these spring bulbs are anything but difficult to grow, and are loved by both the beginner and the experienced gardener alike. Their versatility across styles of gardening is unmatched, and you can find them both in an exotic, jewel garden scheme and a cottage border. No garden, big or small, is complete without a smattering of alliums floating across the borders from May into June.