Growing Ornamental Onions – Alliums


Ornamental onions are a branch of the allium family. It is hard to associate with the humble vegetable onion. But, the ornamental onion provides an excellent early season display of colour in the awkward gap between spring and the full flush of summer.

Ornamental onions also offer an architectural elegance standing tall over an herbaceous border. Even after they have finished flowering, the seed heads can provide months of interest in the garden.

Tips for Growing Alliums

  • Alliums like a free draining soil in full or partial sun. They are not too fusy about the soil; it doesn’t need to be overly rich.
  • They are naturally long lived and should be allowed to die back naturally so leaves can replace energy in bulbs.
  • Unfortunately ornamental onions are particularly liked by the slugs. see: tips for dealing with slugs

Growing Alliums in Pots.

– Alliums make an excellent bulb for growing in patio pots.

Varieties of Ornamental Alliums

  • Allium cristophii:
  • Allium ‘Globemaster’:
  • Allium sphaerocephalon:
  • Allium neapolitanum Cowanii white, good for cutting
  • Allium roreum pale pink
  • Nectaroscordum siculum green, yellow and red bell shaped flowers

Low growing & flowering Alliums

  • Allium nigrum:
  • Nectaroscordum siculum:

At the end of the season you still have the seedheads to look at. Some make fine firework type displays as the seeds prepare to be scattered.

Picture from Oxford Botanic Gardens by

Other Allium articles

Not all alliums look like onions or galic and some even flower yellow.

  • These Allium moly ‘Jeannie’ flower in June at about 10″ high and have an AGM.
  • Yellow Allium Flavum have a delicate scent.
  • Allium molly is also known as Gold Allium or the Lily leek and is quite prolific.
  • The small bulbs divide naturally to produce clumps of yellow flowering alliums in future years.
    the leaves are innocuous and do not conflict with other plants.
  • The flowers can be picked for indoor use.


For other Allium growing tips see.
Tips for growing Alliums
Know Your Onions

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