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Not too late to plant Alliums

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It's not to late to plant Allium bulbs for a great spring display. In the right place, Alliums are low maintenance and will return reliably every year and are surely one of the most stylish plants for a border, illustrated by the images.

Alliums like a sunny spot with well drained soil, which means they are unhappy on wet boggy soil especially over winter, which can cause the bulbs to rot. If you do not have ideal growing conditions Alliums can be raised in containers for a patio display, or place the containers in the borders.

Alliums are wide ranging in size, from the quite small suitable for the front of the border such as  Chives which the bees love (2nd image) and A. Moly, which is a bright yellow variety, both of which grow to around 30cms. Chives make a great edging plant, fodder for us and the bees.

Amongst the taller  varieties Allium Cristophii (illustrated 3rd image), spectacular with it's spikey flower heads and A. Globemaster one of the taller varieties over 1m.

Alliums need to be planted in early Autumn so from September up to mid/3rd week October is best. Buying and planting as bulbs is much cheaper than buying as plants next spring. Like all bulbs the rule of thumb is to plant 4x the depth of the bulb, and if you are container planting a deeper pot is best.

There are also unusual varieties such as Nectaroscordum siculum, (6th image) technically not an Allium, but often sold as one. 

Alliums look great planted on mass, as in the images 4 & 5, which is in an RHS garden, but most of us don't have that much space. In smaller gardens Alliums can be used to great effect as a theme, planted in groups,reoccurring maybe 3/4 times, will give a border real style.

Taller varieties may need staking, especially in exposed areas. Allium are easy to grow and make a fabulous show. Good value for money as they will return and flower year after year with very little attention.

The leaves on Allium are not attractive, especially after flowering and traditionally Allium are planting with companions to cover up the leaves such as Achillea Mollis  or Euphorbia.

For more about growing Alliums, information about spring and autumn flowering Alliums. An image gallery of various types of Allums and planting combinations.

More images and growing tips about Alliums

The Sunday Gardener has over 200 pages of gardening advice and tips.


Allium with butterfly

bee on chive

Allium Cristophii

Allium with Camassia

Alliums on mass

Nectaroscordum siculum a close relative of the Allium



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  1. Babs

    let's compare notes , I just found some packets of Alliums in the corner of my garden, which I shall plant .It's 12th December in Leeds, they shall have two chances live or die ? Babs x I would take a chance and plant them. I think they will flower, a bit late. Better than having them hang around for a year the bulbs will deteriorate......

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  2. Jane

    I am in 6a and now (2 December) it is too late. Is there something I can still do to have them grow? Can I put them and my remaining crocus and grape hyacinth bulbs in containers and keep in garage? It's already started going below freezing at night :( HI jane - I would not plant the bulbs into the garage environment- probably not light enough and overall at this stage too warm. Many bulbs need a period of cold to encourage growth, particularly Tulips and also Allums. I would plant them in a container, ensure they are at least 3x their own depth planted and leave the container in a sunny spot in the garden. Ensure the container is on "feet" to prevent any roots/the bottom of the container freezing because of contact with the cold ground. Both bulbs should flower, a little later then usual. If winter conditions are unusual, say very cold, and there are no signs of life in the spring (you can always gently investigate below soil) then would be the time to bring the container into somewhere warmer to force the growth. I hope this helps. - Regards Carol.

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