Allium plants are garden flowers that deter foraging deer and rodents. Ornamental onion plants are drought tolerant, a necessary asset in today’s flower gardens.
Allium species include chive, garlic and onion plants. They are used as ornamental flowers or herb plants and are excellent deer and rodent resistant.
Mix ornamental onion plants with other bulbs, like tulips, or in late spring gardens. To distract deer and rodents away from favored plants, gardeners will grow short Allium at the edges of a garden bed.
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Drought Tolerant Xeriscape Plant
At the same time, Allium is a drought tolerant plant. For flower gardens in USDA zones 3 – 9 there are many varieties from which to choose.
Alliums are susceptible to root rot when planted in clay soil not amended with organic matter. The water wise characteristics of a xeriscape garden make it an excellent place to plant allium.
Allium Species and Cultivars
Here is of a list of ideas, using alliums:
#1. Allium aflatunense
is hardy zones 4 –7. The plant is 3’ tall with a darker than expected purple flower, blooming late spring. Look for ‘Purple Sensation.’
#2. Allium ’Atropurpureum’
’Atropurpureum’ hardy in zones 4-9. This allium plant blooms late spring to early summer on 2-3’ high stems with a spread of 10.” The flowers open with reddish wine color but gradually darken to purplish black with age.
#3. Allium ‘Gladiator’
‘Gladiator’ hardy from zones 4-9 reaches 40-50” tall. They bloom late spring to early summer and have a 6” diameter violet blue flower.
#4. Allium ’Globemaster’
’Globemaster’ is shorter growing 35-40” tall, blooming in early summer. This flower is fragrant. ‘Globemaster’ is hardy from zones 4-8.
#5. Allium karataviense ‘Ivory Queen’
‘Ivory Queen’ hardy in zones 4-8. This short plant has broadly ovate blue gray leaves, approximately 3-4” wide and 6-10” long.
The flowers are fragrant pale lavender 6” round clusters and bloom late spring to early summer.
#6. Allium ’Summer Beauty’
’Summer Beauty’ hardy from zones 4-9. The plant is 18-20” tall and 8” wide. The shiny dark green narrow leaves turn yellow in fall.
This allium blooms late June to July with purple lavender flowers. After the flowers are spent the reddish brown stems last into winter.
#7. Allium ‘Mongolian Gem’
‘Mongolian Gem’ tolerates slightly colder climates, hardy in zones 3-7. The lavender pink flowers bloom in late summer.
The plant is 18″ tall and 6-8″ wide with bluish green strap-like foliage, which turns a yellow bronze in fall.
#8. Allium schubertii
has pink star shaped flowers on a plant 12-16” tall. It is hardy in zones 3-9. The dried flower stems provide winter interest.
#9. Allium caeruleum, Azure allium
, Azure allium has grass-like leaves with cornflower colored blooms. The plant grows to 18 – 24“ tall and flowers are 1-1/2” in diameter. Mix with other xeriscape plants.
Where to Grow Ornamental Onion Plants
Ornamental onion plants like full sun but will tolerate part shade and have no insect or disease issues. Alliums come in several heights and bloom sizes.
Very tall Alliums like ‘Globemaster’ or ‘Gladiator’ are grown for their extra large flowers. These are the flowers songbirds will sit on. In colder climates the leaves can be nipped by unexpected spring frosts.
Gardeners use evergreen boughs as a quick cover to protect them or hide their unsightly damaged leaves with early summer blooming plants such as daylilies, iris, roses and coreopsis.
Allium ‘Ivory Queen,’ with their wide shaped leaves, and other short ornamental onion plants are excellent for rock gardens and containers. The A. ‘Mongolian Gem’ and A. ‘Summer Beauty’ are smaller, fuller plants that remind gardeners of flowering chives. Alliumflower gardens will attract butterflies and birds.