20 How to Grow & Care Allium Flowers Ornamental Onions 2022

20 How to Grow & Care Allium Flowers Ornamental Onions 2022

Allium is a genus of monocotyledonous flowering plants that includes hundreds of species, including the cultivated onion, garlic, scallion, shallot, leek, and chives. The generic name Allium is the Latin word for garlic, and the type species for the genus is Allium sativum which means “cultivated garlic”.

  • Height: about 18 in.
  • Genus: Allium; L.
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Order: Asparagales
  • Tribe: Allieae
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  • When you see these plants growing, you will immediately know why they earned the name “drumstick.” And they are perfect for adding interest to the garden in summer.
  • They have tall, slender stems topped with a tight flower knot, giving them a musical accessory-like appearance.
  • If you think I didn’t secretly pluck these unusual flowers to wear in my imaginary rock band as a kid, you’re wrong.
  • While they may not have the percussive power of a solid piece of walnut, they certainly had a look you were looking for.
  • These days, I enjoy watching the bees crawl on the fat flower heads nodding lazily in the summer breeze as much as I did pounding my floral timpani.
  • There is also some celebration in the flowers. They look like a constellation of fireworks about to explode in full bloom.
  • Part of what I love about ornamental alliums, in general, is that they are mild-mannered plants. They do not become invasive and do not need constant attention.
  • They grow Happily where you put them, providing color and texture year after year.
  • If this sounds like something you could use in your garden, let’s get started.


Originally native to parts of Europe, North Africa, and West Asia, these days, you can find this striking plant growing in gardens around the world.

Sometimes referred to as round-headed leeks, in the US, They grow best in  USDA hardiness zones  4-8.

Plants can reach up to 36 inches tall and bloom from late spring to late summer. The flowers are dark crimson, maroon, or purple, although they start green and darken summer.

Individual plants can range from a foot to a foot and a half.

Don’t confuse drumstick alliums with drumstick flowers (  Scabiosa Stellata  ), also known as starflowers.

This plant is a member of the honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae), and the flower clusters are similar in shape but otherwise completely different from the allium drumstick.

Similarly,  Craspedia Globosa is also known by the common name thigh flower. Again, this is a different plant!


Seed, bulbs, or divisions can propagate drumstick alliums.


Like many of their edible allium cousins, ornamental alliums grow easily.

With no work required on your part, they will send seeds to the surrounding area, and you will find new plants popping up all the time.

But do not worry. It is not invasive, and it is easy to tear in an unwanted way.

You can cut the flower heads in the fall when they dry, during September and October.

Deadheading helps keep them from spreading, with the bonus that you can rub the seed heads in your hands to separate the trash and retain the rest for planting next season.

Store stored seeds in a sealed container in a cool, dark place, and they can last up to two years.

These are plants that do best in slightly sandy, well-drained soils. If you have heavy clay or dense soil, you’ll want to work in some sand to improve drainage before putting seeds into the ground.

To plant seeds, whether purchased or saved from existing plants, loosen the soil in the garden where you are growing after the last frost has passed in the spring.

Sprinkle the seeds generously over the prepared area and cover gently with about 1/4 inch of soil—water well at planting time, and don’t let the roots dry out while they are germinating.

Once the seedlings emerge, thin to six inches apart, and reduce watering, the top inch of soil should dry completely in the middle at this point.

Remember that you won’t get flowers for the first year or two if you plant by seed.

20 How to Grow & Care Allium Flowers Ornamental Onions 2022


In the fall, after the foliage dies, you can dig up and divide the mature plants. Cut back any dead or dying foliage after you pluck the plant.

Dividing is a good idea even if you don’t plan on using the bulbs because the plants are healthier when they are well spaced.

Alliums don’t have particularly deep roots. Gently dig a six-inch margin around the plant with a shovel, going down about nine inches.

Pick up the clump of soil and gently scoop out half the bulbs.

Replace some of the bulbs in the soil in the original planting area with four to six inches between each at the same depth they were growing before you dug them up, and fill them in with soil.

The plants will return next spring.

Take the rest of the bulbs and plant them individually in a new location. Prepare the soil in the new planting location by adding sand if it is particularly heavy or does not drain well.

You can also add a little bulb fertilizer when planting if your soil is particularly nutrient deficient; You’ve already done a soil test, right?


You can buy bulbs or get some bulbs or seedlings from a friend or neighbor to plant in the spring or fall.

Loosen the soil in the planting area and apply a little bulb fertilizer according to the directions on the package. Place the bulbs in holes about three times as deep as the bulbs are long, with the pointed ends up.

Place the bulbs four to six inches apart. Cover gently with soil and water deeply.

If you can’t plant your bulbs right away, put them in a cool, dark area until you get them into the ground.


These pretty flowers need full sun in most regions, but if you live in a place where it is very hot, they will do well with a little protection from harsh afternoon light.

Drumsticks are a good option if you have a spot in your yard that doesn’t get a lot of water. They can withstand a bit of drought, although they prefer a medium amount of watering.

Let the top inch or two of the soil dry out before watering again.

The flowers will start to bloom in July, usually shortly after other ornamental alliums have started to bloom like ‘Globemaster’ (a sterile hybrid between  A. Christophii and  A. Macleanii  ) and ‘Gladiator’ (a giant flowering ornamental onion).

Plants can get a bit heavy on top and may start to tip over, especially if it’s windy in your area. If that happens, you can place cages that reach half the height of the mature plant.

As an alternative, you can also plant them near shorter, bushy perennials that can provide some support and protection from the wind.

Just be aware that if your plants get too crowded, you may be inviting fungi that can spread disease.


  • Plant in full sun; provide afternoon shade in warm areas
  • Irrigation needs are moderate, and the plants can withstand short-term drought conditions.
  • Protect the plants from the wind to prevent them from falling or breaking.


Move the plants in the fall if you want to prevent them from spreading or naturalizing in your garden.

If you want to tidy up the garden, cut the plants to the ground, remove seeds if you haven’t already, and have dead foliage.

Once the foliage is extinct, you can dig up and separate the bulbs from planting elsewhere. It helps maintain good spacing, which helps avoid fungal problems.


You can get seeds and bulbs at your local nurseries or online. Note that vendors generally won’t ship the bulbs until the fall, when they’re ready for use on the ground.

20 How to Grow & Care Allium Flowers Ornamental Onions 2022
20 How to Grow & Care Allium Flowers Ornamental Onions 2022


The drumstick allium is wonderfully calm by herbivores. Deer and squirrels walk (or bounce).

Most insects are also not very interested in alliums. The main problem you may encounter is a fungal disease.

That said, while there are some pests and diseases to watch out for, ornamental alliums are generally resistant to these types of problems, unlike their edible cousins.

Still, there are a few things to keep in mind that we’ll cover here.


Just watch out for a few bugs with these ornamental bloomers!


Allium leaf miner (  Phytomyza Gymnostoma  ) can be devastating to onion and garlic crops, but they are more of a drawback for ornamental alliums.

This little pest is common in Europe and has arrived in the US.

The sightings were confirmed in Pennsylvania in 2015 and have since spread to parts of New England and Maryland.

The flies have light wings and yellow heads. They lay their eggs in the spring and fall, and after a few days, the white or light yellow larvae hatch and chew through the allium leaves.

While this can hinder plant growth or cause foliage to deform, damaged allium foliage will usually die just before blooming, so this pest usually doesn’t have time to generate a major problem.

However, they can create conditions that invite fungi to attack when they chew holes in your plant.

Put silver reflective mulch in the spring if you want to deter them. Place yellow sticky traps within a foot or two of your plants about six inches above the ground to attract and capture adults simultaneously.

You can also make a trap to capture adults by placing soapy water in a yellow container at the base of the plants.

You only need a few drops of dish soap per cup of water, and the water only needs to be an inch deep for the trap to work. The flies will visit the water and drown.

If you are still having trouble, use a spinosad-based insecticide following the manufacturer’s instructions.


Thrips (  Thrips tabaci  ) are tiny insects, about 1.5 millimeters long, with two wings covered with long hair.

20 How to Grow & Care Allium Flowers Ornamental Onions 2022
20 How to Grow & Care Allium Flowers Ornamental Onions 2022

Adults have pale yellow or light brown bodies. Immature thrips are slightly smaller and wingless.

These pests love dry and dusty conditions.

Adults and nymphs damage plants by nibbling on bulbs and leaves.

If they do enough damage to the leaves, this can cause a reduction in photosynthesis, which can lead to lower rates of flowering. It can even make the flowering stop completely.

Predatory mites, pirate insects, and lacewings love to make a meal with thrips, so do what you can to encourage these beneficial insects to hang out in your garden.

According to the manufacturer’s instructions, this natural fungus reacts to ultraviolet light, so products containing it should apply at night or in cloudy weather.


Ornamental alliums face potential problems caused by various fungi that can destroy your pretty plants.


Downy mildew is caused by the Peronospora destructor fungus attacking plants in the Allium family. At first, you will see that the plants exhibit stunted growth, and the leaves will turn light green or yellow.

Eventually, the plants will turn brown and die.

Sometimes you can see a fine white hairy growth on the leaves, and you can also see purple lesions.

This type of mushroom thrives in cold temperatures and high humidity. The spores move through the air and adhere to plants with moisture in their leaves.

Once the air temperature reaches 75 ° F or higher, the fungus can no longer thrive.

Since fungi love moisture, it is vital to water at ground level early in the day rather than sprinkle water on the leaves of your plants.

It would help if you also trimmed any other plants that grow near your alliums to ensure enough room for adequate air circulation.

Keep your gardens weed-free to prevent the spread of disease, and purchase certified disease-free seeds if available.


White rot is caused by the fungus  Stromatina Cepivorum. It attacks all types of plants of the allium family.

The disease is transmitted through the soil and can live on land for decades. It thrives when the air temperature is between 50 and 75 ° F.

The first sign of this disease that you will see is that the plant’s outer leaves turn yellow and die. Underground, the roots and bulbs will begin to rot.

Once your plants have white rot, there is nothing you can do. Throw the plants away and dispose of them in the trash rather than in the compost pile. Don’t replant alliums in the same spot for at least 15 years unless you sterilize the soil first.

You can sterilize the soil through solarization, which involves placing clear plastic over the ground in the summer and letting it sit for 4-6 weeks.

It heats the soil and will kill most pathogens.

20 How to Grow & Care Allium Flowers Ornamental Onions 2022
20 How to Grow & Care Allium Flowers Ornamental Onions 2022


Drumstick alliums are great for gardens where you want to plant something that can resist deer and squirrels and attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

They can also withstand a bit of drought and are perfect for a naturalized garden area.

I find its architectural and linear form surprisingly novel among the hazy foliage in my ornamental garden. If you don’t have a lot of space, you can fill in small areas as they don’t take up much space.

You can cut the flowers and add them to flower arrangements, adding dimension and solidity. The flowers last quite a long time in vases.

You can also dry the flowers so that you can continue to enjoy their color and shape.

To dry, cut them to the desired length and immediately bring them indoors, away from sunlight.

Hang individually or in small groups of fewer than six flowers, each in a dark area with good air circulation.

I like to wrap a rubber band around the base of the stems and then tie them to a hanger. Then I hang it from the rafters in my attic.

Let the flowers hang until they are dry to the touch, which can take up to a month.


  • Plant type: Perennial flowering Flower / Foliage Color: Crimson, red, purple / green
  • Native to: Europe, North Africa, West Asia Tolerance: Frost
  • Resistance (USDA Zone): 4-8 Soil type: Sandy, let go
  • Flowering time / season: Summer Soil pH: 5.5-6.5
  • Exposition: From full sun to partial shade Soil drainage: Well draining
  • Spacing: 6 inches Attracts: Bees, birds, butterflies
  • Planting depth: 1/4 inch (seed), 3 x bulb length Accompanying sowing: Beets, carrots, chamomile, roses
  • Height: 24-36 inches Avoid planting with: Alfalfa, legumes
  • Spread: 18 inches Applications: Back of Edges, Sample Plants, Cut Flowers, Dried Arrangements
  • Time to maturity: 2 years from seed Order: Asparagales
  • Water needs: Low to moderate Family: Amaryllidaceae
  • Maintenance: Under Gender: Allium

Plagues and diseases: Allium leaf miners, onion thrips; downy mildew, white rot Species: Spherocephalon


When I look at my drumstick alliums, they often remind me of the little lavender balls that chive plants send out in the spring. They are related, after all.

Ornamental alliums are incredibly similar to chives flowers, but on steroids, with larger, bolder flowers.

It’s fun to ponder how the two plants are cousins ​​grown for different purposes.

While  A. Sphaerocephalon may not have the same beautiful flavor as its edible relatives, it makes up for it with its easy, eye-catching display.

I love that this flowering perennial has a distinct appearance in the garden with its round heads and deep garnets.

If you decide to grow them in your garden, let me know where you end up placing them. Are you using them as a border sample? As a feature in a deer-proof display? Or cut them to make beautiful arrangements? Share in the comments!

Do alliums come back every year?

Yes, alliums are perennial bulbs and will return each spring.

Does Allium like sun or shade?

full sun
Sun or Shade: Alliums grow best in full sun, though most types will also tolerate partial shade. Hardiness Zone: The bulbs are winter hardy in zones 3-8. To find your growing zone, refer to the USDA Hardiness Zone Map here.

What is Allium used for?

The economically most important Allium crop species (common onion and garlic) are worldwide used as spices, vegetables, and medicinal plants. Traditionally, they play a very important role in the daily diet also in Asia. Here they can be seen under cultivation in every home garden.

Are alliums poisonous?

Onions, garlic, chives, and leeks are part of the Allium family and are poisonous to both dogs and cats. Garlic is considered to be about 5-times as potent as onion. … Onion and garlic poisoning may have a delayed onset and clinical signs may not be apparent for several days.

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