The Genus Allium
.....Few other species could boast the diversity of the humble allium. With approximately 900 species represented in almost all the continents particularly Asia , Eastern and Western Europe and throughout the Americas. Widely used over the centuries in cooking and herbal remedies , though not all species could be recommended for the latter purposes many species were used as a food crop , Allium Cernuum was a integral part of the diet of the North American Indians and of course we are all aware of the common onions ( Allium Cepa ) , Garlic ( Allium Sativum ) , Chives ( Allium Scheonoprasum ) as the most widely used allium in Western culture. Allium Triccocum and Allium Ursinum are also both popular in North American cuisine both having a strong Garlic flavour.
If you live in the tropics this genus has somewhat less to offer , the majority of the species preferring cool to temperate climates with distinct seasonal temperature fluctuations as well as many Alpine species including the beautiful Allium Insubricum and Allium Narcissiflorum from the Western Alps and high altitude areas around France which can both be challenging to grow.
Rare late Spring flowering species from Europe.
Close to Allium Senescens identified by the keeled leaves. Easy and long flowering garden Allium
A very attractive Russian species , flowering in early Summer.
Widely grown and understandably very popular garden allium from North America and Canada
Allium cont.... With such a worldwide distribution and so many species from different habitats it is difficult to generalize the cultivation techniques of the entire genus here. Many of the winter growing species that produce true bulbs will also have a demand for a dry summer rest , these include Allium Crispum ( below ) Allium Giganteum , Allium Aflatunense , Allium Peninsulare and many others , particularly North American and central Asian Winter growing , Spring flowering species. Sadly there are very few specialist nurseries , particularly in Australia that offer a range of live plants so if you wish to start a collection of this wonderfully diverse species fresh seed may be your only option. Most allium seed has a rather short viability , usually 12 to 18 months before the germination rate will start to decrease and rarely extends beyond 2 years , very fresh seed on the other hand often germinates very quickly and some species flower within 12 months.
A somewhat difficult Winter growing North American species requiring a dry 'bake' in summer. The dark pink form is particularly attractive.
A stunning little plant from China at 2500m asl. Only 10 to 15cm high with fine grassy leaves.
Another Winter growing North America species requiring very good drainage and a dry Summer. Took a few years for us to flower this.
A popular and easy almost evergreen species from Europe and Russia. This form is nice though a little small for my taste. Better appreciated in pots.
Allium cont.... Some of the easiest species to begin from seed for garden use include A.Angulosum , A.Caeruleum , A.Canadense , A.Cernumm , A.Christophii , A.Cyathophorum Var Ferrarii , A.Flavum , A.Obliquum , A.Carinatum Var Pulchellum , A.Roseum ( can be invasive) , A.Scorodoprasum , A.Senescens , A.Sphaerocephalon , A.Splendens , A.Triquetrum , A.Tuberosum , A.Ursinum among many others. The latter mentioned will provide easy germination and undemanding aftercare with most flowering within 2 years. Personally I strongly recommend at least trying Allium Cernuum and Allium Carinatum var Pulchellum which were the first ornamental Allium we grew from seed and certainly aroused the imagination.
Rare in cultivation. Flowered for 2 years in rich well drained soil before dying off completely. Still looking for another source of this attractive species
"Red Skinned Onion" This is a rather pale form , flowers usually range from rose pink to dark purple , always with a deeper colored midrib.
A ubiquitous North American Spring flowering species with pale pink flowers. One of the easier of the Winter growing alliums from the U.S.
Another rare species from Northern Europe. Somewhat similar to A.Saxatile with broader leaves and shorter stems.
One of the few species enjoying cool shade or semi shade. Great Spring flowers at the same time as tulips.
An easy North American species with lovely mid Spring flowers. Foliage dies back at flowering and can look untidy.
Unusual summer growing/evergreen from central Asia with tall, wiry and twisted stems to 1 meter. Golf ball sized heads of lemon yellow flowers.
One of the most attractive of the American alliums , the dense , colorful umbels almost reminiscent of nerines. Requires a dry summer baking.
This is the rare dark form from Central Russia , flower color can range from white to dark pink depending on its provenance. Great garden plant.
"Chives" needs no introduction. A 'Cinch' from seed.
Tough , hardy and very long flowering semi-evergreen species. A 'no fail' species for the garden.
A rather new introduction from Japan , Summer growing species with rose purple flowers and strongly exerted stamens
Lovely reliable , summer flowering 'drumstick' type allium with deep purple-red flowers.