allium-millenium

Allium ‘Millenium’

COURTESY PHOTO

If you hurry, there’s still time to bury a handful of allium “Millenium” bulbs for summer 2018 blooms.

A beautiful shade of lavender-purple with just a hint of rose, “Millenium” — yes, spelled with one “n” — is a worthy addition to the perennial garden. The Perennial Plant Association has named it their 2018 plant of the year, describing it as a “butterfly magnet,” and it’s bound to be a humdinger for bees and other pollinating insects.

This is a large genus with more than 900 species, including onions, leeks, garlic, shallots, chives and scallions. Ornamental alliums can be found in a range of sizes from small to giant drumsticks and colors that include all shades of purple, steely blues, pinks, whites and yellows.

Alliums also have plenty of attributes, including hardiness zones from 3 to 9, bloom times from late spring through summer and the ability to tolerate poor soil. The flowers aren’t fragrant, but when the stem is damaged (or you accidentally clip a few with the weed whacker), you’ll get a whiff of pungent onion. Another bonus is, alliums aren’t on the menu for bulb rustlers like squirrels, and the plants aren’t very appetizing to garden-surfing deer.

Plant alliums at the same time you’re planting spring-flowering bulbs like daffodils and tulips. Most alliums should be planted 3 to 6 inches deep, depending on the bulb’s circumference. Give them a sunny, well-drained location. If summers are particularly hot, “Millenium” will appreciate afternoon shade.

“Millenium” produces upright foliage in grassy, glossy deep green clumps that reach 10 to 15 inches tall in spring. By midsummer, two to three flower scapes rise above the foliage, and each scape produces two or three two-inch spherical umbels of florets. The blooms can last as long as a month, and it doesn’t have a propensity for reseeding.

Umbels are completely round, and as the flowers dry, they turn a light tan with a blush of rose-purple. “While other alliums can look scraggly in the heat of the summer, ‘Millenium’ does not let the heat bother it,” says the PPA.

This allium was introduced in 2000 by Plant Delights Nursery, a cross between A. nutans and A. lusitanicum (formerly A. senescens ssp montanum).

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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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