Who would have thought an onion would be a standout in your landscape instead of your salad? That’s before the ornamental onion — Allium “Millenium” – was named the Perennial Plant of the Year 2018 by the Perennial Plant Association.

The genus Allium covers a dozen or so species of onion, garlic, leeks, shallots, scallions, and chives, as well as several dozen ornamentals that grow from bulbs and can make outstanding ornamentals.

Photo Credit: Walters Gardens, Inc.

Photo Credit: Walters Gardens, Inc.

Can you find a place in your garden for these beauties?

Botanical name: Allium “Millenium”

Exposure: Grows best in full sun. In very hot summer climates requires afternoon shade.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 or 4 to 9

Soil: Grows best in well-drained soils

Uses: Full-sun gardens where its sleek structure can complement many other growth habits. Cut flowers retain a blush of their summer color. Pair with shorter goldenrods (Solidago sp.) such as ‘Little Lemon’ that reaches 1½ feet tall.
Habit: Each plant typically produces an upright foliage clump of grass-like, glossy deep green leaves reaching 10-15” tall in spring. In midsummer, two to three flower scapes rise above the foliage with each scape producing two or three showy two-inch spherical umbels of rose-purple florets that last as long as four weeks. The flower umbels are completely round (spherical), not domed or hemispherical as they are in some Allium species.  They dry to a light tan often holding a blush of their former rose-purple color.

Pollinator friendly: A butterfly magnet, it’s interesting through multiple seasons for both foliage and large, gorgeous blooms. Reseeding is much less a problem than in other alliums.

Photo Credit: Plant Delights Nursery, Inc.

Photo Credit: Plant Delights Nursery, Inc.

Maintenance: No serious insect or disease problems. Deer and rabbits usually avoid Millenium. Propagate by division in either spring or fall.  Cut back foliage in late fall.

Origins: Bred by Mark McDonough, plant breeder/horticulture researcher, Massachusetts; ‘Millenium’ was introduced through Plant Delights Nursery in 2000.

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