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Alliums are Awesome!

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Oh, my aching muscles...

Beautiful alliums are easy to grow

Alliums are excellent addition to the perennial border. They are also a cost-effective way to eliminate planting and replanting annuals every year. Like other bulbs, alliums are perennial, lasting a long time and slowly spreading.
Here are some tips for excellent alliums:

Drainage
The only firm cultural requirement to grow great alliums is drainage (and some sun!). Some gardeners add sand or grit to the soil for this purpose. Rotting can threaten blossoms as well as bulbs: if you get a pocket of water at the base of the heavy leaves, make a wee slit for water to exit. Otherwise, flower buds may rot before they rise.

Location
The taller alliums (which may not have leaves at bloom time) can be planted amidst low companions to appear airborne—or intersperse them with higher plants. Clump them. Naturalize. Mix species. Do a long drift of one or more species. If you blend allium species, you’ll have something to show in the flower garden before and after the May-June bloom time of most perennials.

Shorter alliums can be grown beneath or between border plants, in pots, or in a rock garden. Small bulbs are less likely lost in pots after foliage disappears—when you weed, for example. Pots of all sizes add accents and can be moved. Clump the more evergreen ones such as Allium senescens, chives, and A. cernuum.

Grouping Alliums
Plant small allium species in a group of at least 10 bulbs in a clump in the border. Use at least 50-100 bulbs in a larger landscape to make a strong visual statement.

With Groundcovers
Alliums come up nicely through vinca, ivy and other groundcovers which provide the bulbs with a nice green backdrop and makes a strong visual impact.

Dividing and Moving
If you want to divide or move your alliums to another part of the garden, wait to dig them after the foliage begins to turn yellow. Be careful to leave  room around the bulb when you insert your shovel, or you may cut it!

Mulching
Mulching alliums with any light, organic material prevents weeds, controls soil temperature and retains moisture.

Plant Combinations
Try some allium companions from the following list of plants. These suggestions are culled from many references for you to play with—depending on your taste!

Allium Partners:
Japanese/Siberian iris
Achillea 'Coronation Gold'
blue juniper
barberry
smokebush (Cotinus coggygria)
grasses
California poppies
larkspur
Coreopsis 'Zagreb'
Corydalis lutea
variegated hosta
Artemisia 'Valerie Finis'
Geranium 'Johnson’s Blue'
Rosa glauca
rue 'Blue Beauty'
thyme
Mt. Atlas daisy
columbine
pulmonaria
bleeding heart
meadow rue
Thalictrum aquilegiifolium
salmon-colored daylilies
fennel
roses
tulips
hyacinth 'City of Haarlem'
hydrangea
primrose
ajuga
baby’s breath
bronze fennel
lunaria
liatris
heuchera
Dutch iris
eremurus


NWGN archive published March 1998

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