Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Any Tips for Allium?

Last week Paula in Cadillac, MI left me this question on an old post:

Zoey, I also live in Northern lower Michigan (Cadillac) and experience the same deer problems you do. I have ordered 200 allium bulbs (including Moly) and plan to plant them this Fall in hopes of helping to control my deer buffet problem. Any advice or planting tips? I have sandy soil. Paula

First of all, Welcome, Paula!

I decided to answer you here since I doubt that you would return to the old post and you did not have an email.

The allium is a great choice if you have deer problems. To my knowledge the deer have never bothered any of my alliums. For those of you who are not sure what allium is you can click on "Allium" to the right under labels and you will see a few of the different varieties I have.

Here is what I do with allium:

1. Stick shovel down as far as the size of the bulbs requires. Just sort of lift up the shovel while in the soil.
2. Throw in Bulb(s) under the shovel back- I will check which end is up on the larger bulbs-smaller ones I just toss it.
3. Slowly pull the shovel out and stomp the mound of soil with my foot.

That's it.
Period. (Sorry, I have no secrets to share)
I don't even water them in unless I am already watering that area.

I find them to be nearly carefree.

I also find that the larger varities do not reliably return. This year was partcularly disappointing with only a few of two dozen or so large ones returning. If they do return, they are much smaller each year. I have ordered some new ones to plant this fall so I can be pretty sure of a decent display next spring.

The smaller ones, like Molly, and the drumsticks do much better for me. They seem to not only return, but spread nicely. Of course they are not nearly as showy as the big purple globes.

I hope you have better luck with your 200 bulbs! I bet they will be a sight to see next spring!

Speaking of a sight to see..........Isn't this a striking combo? Brilliant red/orange and cobalt blue.

Leaving work yesterday I noticed that one of the Tropicanna Blacks was way too tall and drooping. So I went back inside and got some scissors and removed the flowering stalk. I couldn't bear to toss it out, so it came home with me. I cut the flowers off and stuck just one in each little vase. I can now enjoy them for a couple of days while I work in the kitchen.


  1. I love orange flowers now more than my former love of yellow. These do look striking in the cobalt blue (another favorite of mine).
    I don't have much luck with the big alliums either. They just don't come up and I only have a couple left.

  2. Allium is something I've never grown. Now I know that if I want to, I should avoid the big showy globes and just go with smaller ones or the drumstick allium.

  3. I should try to find some allium bulbs and see if I can grow them here...not 200 bulbs though! lol Oh Zoey, the Tropicanna stalk inside the cobalt blue vases is just amazing!!

  4. You know I still love those big purple ones, Zo!
    I have, thanks to you, developed the collector's addiction and have five types!
    Two are flowering now!!

  5. Hi Zoey - your canna blooms in the blue vases are gorgeous! I have some ornamental onion (that's allium, right?) that a neighbor gave me - but they're smaller and very ordinary - and just keep coming up every year with no extra care.

    To answer your comment on my blog, this is my first year of doing dahlias. If you want to do a post sometime on overwintering plants like dahlias, cannas, caladium, or tuberous begonias, I would be all ears!!!

  6. Zoey, thanks so much for your help on my upcoming Molly Allium planting. The thought of planting my 200 bulbs does not seem as daunting now. I'm anxious to see them in the Spring (and also to see the deer walk away)!

    Your blog is an inspiration to me. You have beautiful, healthy plantings, which I aspire to!


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