This is the Allium that started it all--the really beautiful tall relative of onions, leeks, and chives that has now taken its place in flower gardens. The flower head consists of over 100 little star-shaped blooms arranged in an amazing globular starburst. Planted close together for a group effect, these bulbs add lovely lavender color plus the interest of the fascinating globe-shaped blooms atop strong stems. They've become many gardeners' favorites.
About the Alliums. Every family has its beauties. And yes, these are the best-looking members of the family of Allium, which includes onions, leeks and chives. (The word, Allium, means 'onion' in Latin.) Many Allium species are native to Iran, where many tulips also originate, and the edible Alliums have been cultivated and a staple of diets for over 10,000 years.
The beauty of the small lavender flowerheads of chives have always been a decorative highlight in herb gardens. But in recent years, gardeners have become fascinated with the larger Alliums, particular the giants. As always, the Dutch hybridizers took them into their stocks, and now we have a whole group of beautiful new flowering onions for gardens. Most bloom in late spring so they bridge the gap nicely between the tulip season and early summer bloom of peonies and poppies.
Experienced gardeners plant these giant Alliums in groups of several bulbs, set very close together. The foliage is not attractive for long, so it's important to plant them next to other perennials whose foliage will more or less cover the Allium's base. This way, the wonderful flower stalks rise up and tower over the other flowers for a wonderful period of bloom.