Planting allium bulbs this fall is an excellent way to add unique color and interest to your landscape next spring!
Although allium may not be quite as well known or popular as other spring flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils, it certainly doesn’t lack when it comes to making a big impact in early season flowerbeds.
In fact, this bulbous perennial can send up some incredible show-stopping blooms. Especially with varieties like Persian Blue or Beau Regard Allium, which can produce massive globe-shaped flowers the size of a softball! (More on these two varieties later)
Even better, it is deer resistant, and is often left alone by squirrels, chipmunks and other pests as well. That is a big plus when you consider they can quickly decimate plantings of tulips and other fall bulbs.
Here is a look at what it takes to plant and grow allium. We have also included three great varieties of allium to try at the end of the article that can bring your spring and early summer to life!
How To Plant & Grow Allium Bulbs
Location & Soil
Allium prefers full sun, so select a growing location that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun each day. Although fertile soil is a plus, it is extremely important to make sure the soil is well draining. In fact, of the two, good drainage is by far the most important!
Allium bulbs can easily rot when planted in heavy, moist soil, or in low-lying areas prone to holding water. For best results, add in plenty of compost in the planting hole.
Compost helps improve drainage, and provides a bit of nutrients for the bulbs as they begin to sprout. If the soil is excessively clay-like or heavy, you can also add a little sand or small gravel around the bulbs to improve drainage as well.
When & How To Plant Allium Bulbs
Allium, like many other fall planted bulbs, should go into the ground a few weeks before your first hard freeze. It is important to give them this time to acclimate to the soil before cold weather settles in. This allows the bulbs to set a few roots into the soil before going dormant for winter.
Dig planting holes to a depth of close to twice their diameter. For example, bulbs that are two inches in diameter should be planted around four inches deep in the soil. Next, fill the bottom of each hole with an inch or so of compost, and then push the bulb into the compost to set it in place.
Finish by filling in the planting hole with a 50/50 mix of compost and soil. In addition to the compost, many gardeners will add a handful of bone meal into each planting hole as well.
This will provide additional power for the bulbs, and helps promote bigger and more vibrant blooms. This step is purely optional as most soils, especially those amended with compost, have plenty of nutrients present for good flowering habits.
Allium In The Spring – How To Plant Allium Bulbs
Allium will emerge in early spring with bright green foliage peeking through the soil. As the temperature warms, the plant will continue to fill out its foliage before sending up a single stem to set its bloom. This usually occurs in mid spring, but can be as late as early summer.
Little maintenance in order to get the plants to bloom. In addition to being deer resistant, allium are rarely bothered by pests or disease of any kind. In fact, allium is well known to keep slugs and aphids completely away from where they grow.
The plants do benefit from a bit of mulch to help competing weeds at bay. Be careful not to over mulch plants as it can retain too much moisture. Additional fertilizing in the spring is not necessary for blooming to occur.
Watering is rarely needed in the spring, and should only be done if experiencing prolonged dry periods or drought like conditions. Allium actually suffers more from over watering that under watering.
For large varieties, staking may be necessary as the flowers reach full size, especially if they are planted in an area that receives more wind.
End Of Season Care – How To Plant Allium Bulbs
The blooms of allium can be cut back as they begin to fade, or allowed to remain on the stems to dry. It will not hurt the plant either way. Many gardeners enjoy the look of the dried flowers in the landscape, and birds will visit for food if left.
Allow the foliage of the plant to remain until it is fully decayed. The bulbs gain their energy for the following season’s blooms from the leaves. Unfortunately, removing them before they have completely died back can hinder next year’s flowering cycle.
3 Great Varieties of Allium Bulbs To Plant
Persian Blue Allium
Growing from 24 to 36 inches in height, Persian Blue is one of the larger and most beautiful allium varieties of all. (See photo at the top of the article for reference)
With huge, spherical flowers and their tall stature, they will add big interest to any flowerbed. They also overwinter well, and continue to flower for years. Product Link : Persian Blue
With shimmering white / pinkish flowers that radiate from their stems, the name graceful is quite fitting for this variety. Graceful Allium grows to near 18 inches in height, and blooms in late spring / early summer.
Like all allium, it is highly pest resistant, all while bringing large number of beneficial pollinators to work it’s showy blooms. Product Link : Graceful Allium
Gladiator grows to a staggering three to four feet tall. With blooms that can grow softball size or larger, they are hard to miss in any landscape. The bulbs are over winter well, and provide a good show of color year after year. Product Link : Gladiator Allium
For more great fall bulbs to plant, check out our article 5 Great Fall Bulbs To Plant on the blog. Here is to a little fall planting to add spring beauty to your flowerbeds and landscape.
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