Does your perennial garden give you a non-stop parade of flowers from spring through fall? If your answer is "yes", please take a bow! Achieving continuous color is a lot more difficult than it sounds. Every type of plant blooms according to its own schedule, and flowering times also vary by variety, growing zone and weather conditions.
For many gardeners, one of the most confounding bloom time gaps happens in late spring – after the tulips have flowered and before the peonies are open. Sometimes that in between time can last several weeks, and it seems like a long time when you're eager for flowers.
Fortunately there’s an easy fix: alliums. Here’s why every perennial garden can benefit from these carefree bulbs:
1. Late Spring Color. Most ornamental alliums flower in May, when it’s no longer spring and yet not quite summer. By planting several different types, you can stretch the show for months. You'll find colors, heights and bloom times here: Planning Guide for Alliums.
2. Lots of Variety. There are more than a dozen garden-worthy alliums that can be called into action: short ones, like Allium karataviense and Allium schubertii, are perfect for rock gardens or lining a walk. Others, such as Allium Purple Sensation and Allium Mount Everest, are the ideal height for a mixed perennial border. Giant alliums, like Allium ‘Christophii’ and Allium 'Globemaster’, produce enormous 6 to 8” globes. You'll find photos and descriptions here: Types of Alliums.
3. Problem free. Deer, voles, chipmunks and squirrels have no interest in eating alliums. Insects don’t bother them either (except for bees and butterflies, who love the nectar). Alliums are also virtually immune to disease problems.
4. Easy and reliable. Like most flower bulbs, alliums are born to bloom and need no special care. Just plant them in fall, any time before the ground freezes. Most species thrive in zones 4 to 7 and will return to bloom again year after year.
5. Long-Lasting. Allium flowers are long lasting in the garden and in a vase. After the flowers fade, their seed heads continue to add interst. Dry them indoors and spray with gold or silver paint for holiday arrangements.
6. Happy personalities. There’s something lighthearted about alliums. Whether they remind you of lollipops, balloons or bubbles, you'll find it's always a pleasure to have them around.
The time to plant allium bulbs is fall -- at the same time you plant tulips and daffodils. Nestle the bulbs among other plants so they can hide fading foliage. Let alliums help you turn late spring into your garden’s finest hour!