Allium – Ornamental Onion Flowers

Purple Allium ornamental onion flowers covered in water droplets.

One does not normally equate onions with pretty little purple flowers. At least I didn’t. That is until the discovery of Allium – aka ornamental onion flowers. Who knew?? 

Spring’s Bloom Cycle Continues…

Shades of purple Allium
Shades of purple Allium flower heads.

As spring continues its bloom cycle, the local garden I frequent for photo ops gives way to Allium.

These purple pom pom flower heads are like spring’s cheerleaders! They begin popping up in an array of sizes, colors and heights. From small and demure looking to tall and statuesque.

The ones in this photo grow closer to the ground but produce much larger heads. Regardless, the heads themselves are actually composed of hundreds of tiny little flowers.

And a garden covered in all of the different sizes of spherical flower heads is quite an explosion of color. It’s like a rolling sea of purple globes!

Couple the Allium with other little yellow flowers that may be blooming along side them and it’s a beautiful spring spectacle to behold.

Buds that Look like Alien Antenna

Alien looking Allium buds
Alien antenna looking Allium buds.

But before getting to their beautiful, blooming flower head stage, some Allium go through a more awkward, lanky phase. With a vivid imagination, the buds are pretty cool looking – especially the smaller Allium.

In fact, I’d venture to say they kind of look like little alien antenna with their bulb-looking bud heads. A light sheath (like an onion skin) covers them before the little flower buds begin to emerge.

Either they look like alien antenna or eyes on a creature like in a bad sci-fi movie. Bobbing around in the wind they take on a life of their on. Perhaps it’s their purple and green colors that give this perception. Or that may be my imagination talking again…

Regardless, clustered together they make for some interesting photos – especially with the lens I like to utilize..

Purple Allium buds (ornamental onions).
Allium ornamental onion buds – with specialized filters applied for a painterly-like effect.

Alluring to Bees and Ladybugs

The allure of all these little ornamental onion flowers in shades of purple does not get lost on the bees. They show up to tap into some pollinating opportunities for sure! 

honey on purple allium flowers
Honey bee on little purple Allium flowers.

A lady bug even stops by to join the party. The contrast of bright orange against the little purple flowers is quite striking.

ladybug on little purple Allium flowers
Bright orange ladybug hanging out on purple Allium flowers.

What’s Not to Love?

Purple Allium spherical flower heads
Clusters of tiny flowers make up the Allium heads.

The ornamental onion flowers themselves do not seem to have too much in the way of fragrance. However, kneeling by the Allium plant stalks and you really do smell onions. So they are true to their roots so to speak!

For the record, Allium also come in white flowers too. But it’s all the spherical shades of purple that really capture the eye.

Thriving in the xeriscape garden, they share company with cactus and many other flowering plants. The contrast of these purple flowers against the bright red poppies about to bloom will be quite a treat.

The flower heads tend to last a while which keeps gardens vibrant with their colors.

However, after blooming Allium evolve and undergo an interesting transformation…

Transforming from Pretty Flowers to Nubby Seed Head

nubby green Allium seed head
Nubby green Allium seed head after blooming.

Flower transformations – after they’ve bloomed can be so interesting. You never know how they’ll evolve? You may not even give them much of a second thought – that is, unless you’re photographing them.

Allium were yet another example of this. Their pretty clusters of hundreds of tiny purple flowers give way to a bizarre looking thing.

It becomes a nubby green seed head – which often seems to like to mug the camera ahead of its still flowering brethren. Take the photo to the right as an example. It’s like it’s saying: “hey look at me. I’m still cool looking even if I don’t have my flowers!”.

Admittedly, they make me laugh. Their bald green nubs devoid of flower petals is hard to ignore!

Feel inspired? Please share...