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Alliums look spectacular grouped in a pot, or in a sunny border, dotted in groups among ornamental grasses, or as part of a Mediterranean scheme. The plants can be allowed to self-seed to make impressive clumps. Plant en masse to be sure to have cut flowers, they flower earlier in full sun an a little later in shade. The flower stalks dry well and can be used in arrangements or they can be left outside to provide winter interest as they look good covered in frost.
The flowers last a long time and help fill that awkward gap between the later spring bulbs and the perennials. By the time the papery tunic on the alliums has broken, the garden is in full swing and caught between spring and summer
Allium hollandicum “Purple Sensation” has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
The RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee described “Purple Sensation” as:
"A bulbous herbaceous perennial to 90cm, with short basal leaves dying down by flowering time. Flowers small, vivid rosy-purple, in crowded spherical umbels. Attractive seed heads."
Sowing: Sow at any time of year.
The seeds can be sown directly where they are to flower at any time of year, or can be sown indoors, the seedlings over wintered in the greenhouse and then planted out in the following spring.
Allium seeds need a period of moisture and cold after harvest before they will germinate, usually this is necessary to either allow the embryo to mature or to break dormancy.
If sown indoors in warmer weather, the period of dormancy can be artificially stimulated by placing the moistened seed in a refrigerator. It is best to sow them on moistened, well draining compost, seal the container in a polythene bag and leave everything in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 weeks at around 4 to 5°C (39 to 41°F). The seeds must be moist whilst being pre-chilled, but it doesn't usually benefit them to be actually in water or at temperatures below freezing. After prechilling bring out of the fridge to 13 to 16°F (55 to 60°F)
Light seems to be beneficial and so pre-chilled seeds should have only the lightest covering of compost over them, and the seed trays etc. should be in the light. Compost should be kept moist but not wet at all times. Germination should occur 18 to 21 days.
Prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays to grow on. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out.
Plant out in spring into fertile, well drained soil. Add grit when grown in clay soils to improve drainage. Remember that the foliage dies back as flowering commences; you may wish to place this behind a smaller plant to disguise its foliage. When planting try to plant in groups of at least 3 or 5 as they do look much better in clumps.
Prepare the soil prior to planting by cultivating up to 30cm of soil, on heavier soils add a couple of handfuls of grit under each Allium before planting to improve drainage. Alliums grow well in most soil types but do prefer to be planted in well-drained sunny spots. The bulbs of Alliums vary tremendously in size so the best advice on planting depth is to plant Allium bulbs at a depth of three to four time their depth in the soil. On light soils, increase the planting depths to help anchor the taller varieties. The soil around Alliums should be kept moist during the flowering period.
Alliums can also be used for naturalising in grassland or similar areas, however please note that as they do not flower until late (May-June) you will not be able to cut the grass until they die back in July.