From Onion to Scented Flower

Many gardeners are not aware that o­nions don't just belong in the vegetable patch. In fact, many members of the Allium family (which also includes chives and garlic) make perfect additions to an ornamental garden. A number of cultivars have beautiful flowers and a wonderful scent. Allium karataviense 'Ivory Queen' and Allium 'Globemaster' are just a couple of examples. But not o­nly are these underused o­nions stylish, but most Alliums are extremely hardy as well.

Onion Flowering
One of the most persistent problems for both serious and casual gardeners in the US is deer. In recent years, deer-resistant gardening has grown from a niche interest to an everyday need. Allium can help with that. Not o­nly do deer not munch o­n scented o­nions, but they actually avoid them altogether. Of course, the deer don't read the deer-resistant gardening books we that do, but several types of Allium have proven to live up to their hype. A good tactic is to have Allium and other plants that deer dislike around the edges of your garden or mixed in among vulnerable, tasty treats like clematis or yew.

Fortunately for gardeners in a number of climates, Allium is also drought tolerant, making it an excellent choice for USDA zones 3 through 9. This can be a lifesaver in areas with uneven year-to-year rainfall amounts. You can be guaranteed to have at least a couple of blooming survivors. If you need to beef up your drought-resistant plant arsenal, many cultivars look very attractive when paired with lavender or agastache.

Most o­nions prefer full sunlight, but can survive in partial shade. Allium, however, have very few issues with diseases, insects, or rodents, so don't be afraid to put them around the edges of the garden. They won't end up being a buffet!