Last year I brought home bulbs of all of the large-flowering ornamental onions we had available as part of our rare bulb offerings. Boy, was I amazed when they all bloomed in spring. Their huge spheres in shades of purple, magenta, lavender, and white seemed to float above the garden like floral balloons. I’ve always loved Allium but this past spring has convinced me that I really could not live without them. And nor should you!
Ornamental onions are best-known for the species and hybrids which form large spheres that can be 3-6 inches across. The best of the commonly available cultivars is ‘Globemaster’ but there is a wealth of other large-flowered cultivars in a variety of shades that are equally, if not more, stunning including ‘Ambassador’, ‘Gladiator’, ‘Lucy Ball’, ‘Ping Pong’, and ‘Pinball Wizard’.
There are also Alliumwith even bigger spheres such as A. cristophii, A. schubertiiand the hybrid ‘Spider’ with firework-like heads up to 8-12 or more inches across!
There are also Alliumthat form half spheres like A. nigrumand ‘Miami’, Alliumthat form small spheres or egg-shaped heads like the blue A. caesium, A. sphaerocephalon, and ‘Red Mohican’, Alliumforming small fireworks like A. pulchellumssp. carinatumand A. flavum, Alliumwith dramatic, broad architectural foliage and large heads like ‘Ostara’, A. nevskianum, and A. karataviensessp. henrikki, and cute little Alliumwith small clusters of flowers like A. molyand the shade-loving A. ursinum. All of these various forms offer shades of magenta, purple, lavender, blue, white, and yellow.
Ornamental onions can be grown by the majority of Canadians from coast to coast. Most of them prefer full to part sun in average to rich, free-draining soils. They are mostly considered hardy to zone 4 (with some officially hardy to zone 3) though gardeners in zone 3 and even zone 2 have successfully overwintered Alliumwith mulching and good snow cover in protected microclimates. They are also disease resistant, bug resistant, and deer resistant!
We are very pleased to offer 40-50 different species and cultivars of Alliumeach year for pre-ordering through the summer and fall for pick-up or shipping in late September and early October. Should supplies last, we may also have them available potted up in early spring.