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Yorktown onion or wild leeks

Posted by Lesuko 5, Boulder CO (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 5, 12 at 14:16

I was fortunate enough to visit Colonial Williamsburg while in VA and got some yorktown onion bulbs from the local groundskeeper. Of course I'm not supposed to tell anyone. But, in my excitement, I forgot to ask how to care for them- plant, water, etc. Since I'm in CO I don't know if they will overwinter. There is little information online about how to care for them.

From one gardener, I was told that the larger of the alliums were leeks and if left in the ground, will flower on year 2. But these alliums were 5ft tall with huge heads. The yorktown onions I got are 3ft tall with slightly smaller heads. I do not know if they need 2 years to flower.

In the mean time I've put 2 bublbs in pots with a 3" stem still on. I know since they were in the middle of flowering it's not the ideal time to transplant, but had no choice.

So, anyone out there with any experience with these guys?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Yorktown onion or wild leeks

What a nice souvenir! I have not grown that particular allium but an ornamental that I have grown a few of for a couple of years seems to be similar (allium ampeloprasum - as is Elephant Garlic.) I have become more and more interested in different alliums (grown mostly to eat) because of their resilience to pretty much everything - If some say that tomatoes are easy, I don't know if there would be a word to describe growing the alliums that I have tried.

Check out the link below to find some growing information it looks like they might need a bit of protection in your zone - and be sure to read down through the 'Cultivation details' section.

Hope this helps, best of luck!

Here is a link that might be useful:

RE: Yorktown onion or wild leeks

  • Posted by Lesuko 5, Boulder CO (My Page) on
    Wed, Jun 6, 12 at 13:09

Thanks cheapheap.

Since I received the bulbs in midflower, I wasn't sure what to do with them- plant even thouwh the head had been cut off, or let the bulbs dry and plant in the fall.

About your elephant garlic- do they flower in the first year? I'm trying to plant for bees and they love alliums. However, I'm looking for perennial options too.

RE: Yorktown onion or wild leeks

I am not sure of exactly what to do in your situation - others here have helped me greatly, hopefully they will chime in.

I have never had to move alliums other than after the season. My feeling would be to replant them and if they don't want to keep growing, dig them up and store them. The main problem with digging up alliums too early is that they might not have had an opportunity to go through a curing process that among other things prevents them from desiccating in storage. - But, your alliums were probably past their bloom when the gardener removed them which might be close enough. It seems to me that alliums are quite a bit different than some other ornamentals in that the plant with the bloom fading would be much closer to being dormant than for example a daffodil that needs its leaves for a while after blooming

The elephant garlic flowers every year. What is generally planted is a bulb, which is at least a year old already.
Allium Ampeloprasum can be propagated from seed, bulbils ( little mini bulbs that form at the top of the stem among the flowers), bulblets (little hard bulbs that form underground on the underside of the main bulb which seem to be a way for the plant to carry on even if it is totally destroyed - they can lay dormant in the soil until conditions are favorable - kind of like hardened seed), and bulbs. Varieties of allium ampeloprasum would have been bred (or discovered) to produce more bulb divisions, less bulbils, showier flowers, etc.

Bulbs, bulbils, and bulblets will all produce clones of the parent (there can be some changes by chance or over time). A bulb should have all that is needed to flower in the following year, bulbils and bulblets might not - so they may need another year.

Seeds can generally produce more variation (even though the plants may look identical, the variation will be there, that is beneficial to the plant population), but are off to a much slower start. They could flower in the second year of growth if conditions are right, but they will trudge on and make it eventually if they need to or die trying.

Definitely be sure to save as many of the different clones of the plants that you have so it might be easier to maintain them over time.

To make it short, I think you will have flowers next year if the plants survive transplanting and your winter.

Best of luck!

RE: Yorktown onion or wild leeks

I wanted to add that it is possible to spring plant alliums - not ideal, but it can work.
For the bees, I bet that you have already looked into different types of clover - some are perennial, most reseed for a number of years.
The most bee activity that I have on my place is in the very early spring when a native willow is in bloom next to one of my gardens. I do not hear all that well- better than some, worse than most, but I can actually feel it when they are in the tree/bush.

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