Why don't my ornamental alliums look like those in the pictures?

jrgardner(z8b FL)May 17, 2005

Okay -- I've had bad luck with ornamental alliums, so I would like to figure out what I'm doing wrong. I planted three varities this year only one came up (a. neapolitanum), but the leaves looked droopy (is that how they should look??) and the stalks were very thin and drooped. The flowers were pretty, but nothing like what I expected (not very full).

So, here are some questions that I'd appreciate advice on:

Am I too far south for this?

Will the alliums do better in their second year?

What would produce these conditions? They get plenty of sun, good amounts of water, and the soil is decent (perhaps not the best, but not terrible and at least well-draining).

Thanks so much for any advice!


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pdxjules(8, Portland, OR)

There are many variations - but I suspect that yours may be starting slowly from too much heat. Can you arrange some shade/filtered sun using other plants nearby?

If you started from seed, Allium can look like tiny grass the first year when it sprouts - so be careful not to pull grass-like seedlings in that area!

Yes, for several years new seed and small bulbs will grow larger and be more rewarding each season. And if you cut (mince and eat like chives) the leaves about the point where they flop, you may find that your Allium begins to feed bulbs and multiply from the base. The flowers will throw seed - or you can collect the seed when it begins to dry - and perhaps begin seedlings indoors, or in shade before planting out, to minimize heat-struggle. Flowering Stalks should be firm - so provide mulch &/or Am water if possible. Once flowering begins, it is normal for leaves to flop and die back to feed bulbs.

We have opposite problems. I recently moved massive droopy peonies that were not blooming enough, and some over-vigorous clumps of ornamental Allium (medium size purple-globes) to the sunny front garden, and took care - so that the ground does not parch in peak sun...as that is the only spot where that is a risk for me.

I added compost and to help hold moisture, and bulbs are aided by a top moist mulch, and the variety of other plants all around for filtered shade at the base.

I intend to eat most of the spicy leaves as I don't care for more Sword-play in my garden by late spring - after masses of tulips, narcissus, and hycinths have quit and the lillies and iris are taking over...and Crocosmia ileaves are waiting to join the dance.

I'm adding a Dahlia border to the sword beds...and am excited that a Bachelor's button has already pushed thru the mass of swords to bloom cutely. All are worth growing - in their display seasons. Growth and dormant seasons is balanced with other Perennials and annuals.

Adding sheer Dahlia foliage mass to existing Roses and monster Rhodies - and by gosh, there's not much dang subtlety about who rules each season in this section of the urban rain forest. Whoo-ah...now to get back to that rain-or-shine deadheading - or the jungle-look will rule.

Having so much Spring rain in the PAC NW - we wind up with too much foliage & dense shade unless we deadhead, prune, pull, divide and hack back plants regularly. Wonder if I'll get the courage to prune that lush Magnolia this year - for more light?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2005 at 3:00PM
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mindsmile(z5 ma.)

Yes, for several years new seed and small bulbs will grow larger and be more rewarding each season. And if you cut (mince and eat like chives) the leaves about the point where they flop,
Are you saying the ornamental alliums can be eaten this way also??as in your post above.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2005 at 4:58PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Potash is a helpful fertilizer for most root crops and onions. If you have an inexpensive way to test for NPK, you may find that your soil needs more potash or other primary fertilizer. Alliums as ornamentals will increase in size from year to year, so this may just be the smaller size they are now, as mentioned.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 2:32PM
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paquebot(Z-4b WI)

Potash is NOT a helpful fertilizer for onions. Their initial growing requirements are for phosphate, then nitrogen. Potassium is the LEAST needed of the NPK trio.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 4:51PM
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I planted 4 gladiators and 4 firework alliums in the fall, why are they not growing? Its April and the Globemasters I planted 20 feet away and the greens are already 6 inches high...Yet no sign of the gladiators and fireworks. Help!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 8:53PM
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