Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Allium Summer Beauty

The genus Allium is a hugely diverse group of plants, many of which make great garden subjects. Ufortunately, most gardeners are only familiar with the giant globe onions like 'Globemaster', or the weedy species like A. azureum or A. sphaerocephalon. (As a side note A. azureum pulls very easily and the beutiful blue flowers make it worth including in any sunny garden).

The last few years have seen a number of new introductions for Allium (I'll write about more of the in the next 2 months), and one of my favorites has been A. lusitanicum 'Summer Beauty'. This form has nice pink flowers starting in July and lasting into August. The foliage remains a beautiful emerald green all season, despite neglect, and is deer and rabbit resistant. It quickly forms a clump 24-30" wide, and flowers at 30". Summer Beauty seems to tolerate heavy soil fairly well, but I would still amend clay soils with compost. Use it in any sunny garden as a textural contrast with Echinacea, Monarda, Coreopsis, Roses, etc. It makes a great nectar plant for bees and butterflies.


  1. I adore mine, and have large swaths of them planted on both sides of my property.

    The front side is very sandy, but compacted, and gets generous doses of road salt all winter, every winter.

    The back side is even sandier, but not compacted, and gets no road salt, but unlike the front yard, gets very little water and is dry as old bones.

    Deer traffic is extremely heavy here. They will eat Barberries, and even Wolf's Bane, but they won't touch the 'Summer Beauty'.

    We're zone 3B here, and I can't recommend them highly enough. I just wish that they'd bloom a little longer, and maybe come in a few darker shades for variety. Other than that, what's not to love?

  2. I would definitely give Allium 'Millenium' a try if you're looking for darker shades. Should be just as hardy for you, slightly shorter, and darker lavender. A really great variety. All Allium species are deer resistant, deer don't like the onion smell. Pretty much anything highly fragrant is resistant.

  3. Thanks Nick for your comment. I have been searching for a comparison between Summer Beauty and Millennium with no luck until i found your comment above. Do you all think the foliage of Millennium are just as long lasting as Summer Beauty?

  4. Foliage is pretty much identical between the two, 'Millenium' has the same clean and long-lasting foliage as 'Summer Beauty'. 'Millenium' continues to be my favorite Allium variety.

  5. My landscaper can’t remember if she planted millenium or summer beauty. How can identify one vs the other?

    1. 'Millenium' flowers will be lavender vs. pink for 'Summer Beauty'. It will also be shorter by 6-10". 'Summer Beauty' is sterile and doesn't form any seed, 'Millenium' is fertile and forms seed. 'Summer Beauty' blooms in June-July and 'Millenium' blooms July-August (here in Wisconsin).

  6. Another nice aspect of both Allium cultivars are the colorful flower stems in autumn. Millenium gets extra points for maintaining upright and interesting seedheads into winter, unlike Summer Beauty seedheads that kind of fall apart by late fall. Both have the same excellent foliage.


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