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Allium Unifolium

Allium unifolium

Allium unifolium

We’ve been starting to add California native bulbs to our home garden and our landscape plantings, and so far, Allium unifolium is one of our favorites. A lot of the native alliums require perfect drainage and a summer dry period and would be difficult to source even if you thought you could get the growing conditions right. A. unifolium, though, is easy to find and grow; we read that it’s supposedly the most clay tolerant of the alliums, and so far that’s been the case. Also, because it’s considered garden worthy (the Dutch like it) and not just for native purists, you can actually find it in sufficient quantities to make an impact in a large garden, where it will spread somewhat aggressively if it’s happy. It’s beginning to bloom in several of our gardens now.

Allium unifolium

Allium unifolium in our garden

We were recently at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden at Tilden for their native plant sale, and I took pictures of the alliums that were blooming. The bed’s aesthetic (three foot high bed of stone holding 4-12 inch high plants) is more for collectors than for casual visitors, but it has some interesting stuff, of which Allium crispum sounds like the best bet to try in a garden. The Pacific Bulb Society has a good info page for North American alliums. Far West Bulb Farm also has photos and info and might be a source for some of them. I put photos of four alliums and the raised bed below.

Allium shevockii

Allium shevockii

Allium shevockii

Allium shevockii

allium fimbriatum purdyii

allium fimbriatum purdyii

Allium falcifolium

Allium falcifolium

allium crispum

allium crispum

tilden bulb raised bed

tilden bulb raised bed

Update: To show what the plants look like as they finish their bloom, I added a photo of a naturalized A. unifolium patch in the botanic garden that I took on June 10th.

Allium unifolium with Festuca californica

Allium unifolium with Festuca californica

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8 Responses to “Allium Unifolium”

  1. April 26th, 2009 at 10:32 am

    deb says:

    Very pretty. They don’t do well here:(

  2. April 26th, 2009 at 10:42 am

    ryan says:

    Too bad. Texas probably gets hot and dry too quickly. They like our wet, cool winters and dry, dry summers.

  3. April 26th, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    wiseacre says:

    Great macro of the Allium falcifolium. It had me drooling like usual. Plenty to love in a small umbel. I want – the one leaf onion. I can think of a number of places to use it. Might be pushing the zone a bit but the color, size and it’s ease of naturalizing are just right.

  4. April 26th, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Town Mouse says:

    That looks great! My Triteleia and also the Dichelostemma are both blooming in the new front garden. I’ll be curious how it works out next year. Hope they stay…

  5. April 27th, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Pomona Belvedere says:

    Well blow me down, I thought I was pretty good on natives but had no idea there were native California alliums. I’m not generally a huge allium fan, but these look beautiful.

  6. April 28th, 2009 at 7:51 am

    susan (garden chick) says:

    I never really connected natives and bulbs until Troy at Gardennatives did a blog post on this topic. I’m now suggesting native bulbs to clients in addition to or instead of the much beloved daffodil.

  7. February 15th, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Country Mouse says:

    I just planted a bunch of little allium unifolium plants I grew from bulbs – your results are encouraging!

  8. February 16th, 2010 at 11:47 am

    ryan says:

    Our bulbs are all up again this year, too, so we’re continuing to have good results. That’s great you’re growing them from seed. I hope you have good results too.