Ornamental Onions, grown for their exotic flowers, are members of the large onion family. They have many characteristics in common with their edible cousins--onions, leeks, chives and garlic, particularly their bulbs. While certainly not as popular as tulips or daffodils, there are the 2 dozen or so kinds of ornamental onion Alliums available for the garden. They are perennial, being able to survive cold winters and flower year after year. Giant Onion (Allium giganteum), a dramatically tall type with large ball-shaped flower heads, is most commonly available and makes a wonderful garden accent.

Height and Spread
The flower stalk of giant onion is from 3 to 5 feet tall. The foliage is only about 1 1/2 feet high and may cover an area up to 2 feet across.

Giant onion's tiny pinkish-purple flowers crowd together in a dense, globe-shaped cluster at the end of a tall hollow stalk. Each cluster is from 4 to 6 inches across, creating a spectacular sight. They may be lightly fragrant. Giant onions bloom in late spring or early summer and last up to 3 weeks.

The flat, hollow, strap-shaped leaves of giant onion grow from the base of the Allium and are about 2 inches wide and 18 inches long. They are blue-green, about the same color as the culinary onion. Crushed, they exude the familiar onion odor. After the Alliums finish blooming, the foliage dies back.

Fancy Nancy Offers Column About Alliums
Click Here

see all questions...

Do you have a gardening question? Ask Nancy