Category Archives: Garden

Allium

Allium come in many varieties. Micro to macro, shades of pink to purple, dense to wispy. Giant allium variety pictured.

This weekend I finally dug the allium bulbs I planted a few years ago. Back then I started with 3 bulbs in each hole. And as bulbs tend to do, they multiplied. It was getting crowded in there! It felt like a fragrant treasure hunt with squeals of “oh there’s another one”, and a waft of dull garlic hit me when bulb after bulb emerged as my shovel plunged deeper. Beyond being striking purple puffballs on tubular stems with strappy plastic belt like foliage these babies produce more babies. Which means at some point it’s time to dig and divide, replant and/or give to friends. I opted for all of the above.

Close up of the bulb. This fleshy orb will turn into so much more! It’s best to keep bulbs that didn’t sustain any damage while digging.

I find allium an easy grow. To plant allium select a full sun to part-shade location. Dig a hole 6-8″ deep, and about 12″ in diameter if you plan to put multiple bulbs in. This will give them 4-6″ spacing. Or 6-8″ deep and 6″ diameter for a single bulb works too. Nestle bulbs with the flat edge at the bottom of the hole (see photo above- near thumb is the flat edge). The curly q pointy top will look up toward the sky until you cover it with the soil you removed while digging, and tuck it back in for fall and winter rest. I like to mix a few handfuls of compost in with soil as I fill in to enrich. It also makes me feel like I’m a real gardener, giving life a head start. I don’t add any plant food at this time. We’ll get to that in the spring when active growth starts. Once the hole is filled back in, dress with mulch. Then water to soak thoroughly. I pour 1-3 gallons on depending on how dry the soil was to start. My soil is typical Fort Collins, Colorado. Dense, sticky clay when wet. Chunky bordering on concrete when dry. That’s a slight exaggeration. I have amended and mulched over the years which helps. We generally get enough moisture through the dormant season but if it’s an unseasonably dry winter give the area a soak once or twice. Allium bulbs are considered a fall bulb. Planted in the fall for spring bloom. Like so much of gardening allium are an exercise in patience and faith. It is a joy filled moment to see the foliage emerging from the ground. I call it the green stretch.

The green stretch happening! Blooms look like turrets on towers as they mature. Very regal!
The flower ball is made up of individual star shaped blossoms. Superstar in the garden!
Late season dried allium flowers in lower left corner. Even when fading they offer seasonal interest.

Fall is my favorite for wrapping up my garden to do list especially when I can check off tasks I’ve neglected for a few seasons. Dig alliums- check! This time of year helps me remember preparing for a season of rest properly prepares for rejuvenation in the season to come.

Wrap up on allium planting and care:

Easy to grow in full sun to part shade, dry to average well-drained soil (or at least as well drained as it can be in some dense clay areas around here!)

Plant 6-8″ deep depending on how large bulbs are. Place in hole with 4-6″ spacing between bulbs or one bulb per hole.

Add a few handfuls of compost when filling hole back in. No plant food at this time.

Water thoroughly and mulch.

Enjoy! Benefits of growing alliums:

Attract butterflies, bee friendly, deer and rabbit resistant, fragrant, good cut and dried flower.