German Garlic: a Pretty Allium with Nice Foliage and Flowers

allium senescens glaucumVirtues: We love German garlic for its spiraling bluish-green foliage that creates the perfect backdrop for the charming, fragrant, rounded lilac-colored flowers that bloom on top of tall stems throughout late summer and early fall.

Common name: German garlic; circle onion; cowlick onion

Botanical name: Allium senescens subsp. glaucum

Flowers: In late summer through early fall, tiny, globular bursts of aromatic light pinkish-purple flowers bloom atop of tall, leafless stems.

Foliage: Thin, grass-like leaves in an eye-catching deep bluish green hue twist and turn to make a dense clump and inspire the common name of cowlick onion. Although the leaves are edible, this eccentric perennial is grown more for ornamental use than for culinary.

Habit: With its winding, long foliage, German garlic typically reaches a height of 6 inches, with a similar spread. Flower stems can grow to 12 inches tall. It is an herbaceous perennial that grows from a bulb.

Season: Striking foliage ensures interest from spring through fall. Flowers shine in late summer and autumn.

Origin: Native to Europe and North Asia

How to grow Allium senescens subsp. glaucum: These butterfly-loving, drought-tolerant plants can grow successfully in most well-drained soils. They thrive in full sun but will tolerate part shade—especially in warmer climates. They may slowly spread by offset bulbs underground, and/or they may self-sow. However, spread is slow, and self-sowing can be prevented by deadheading the flowers. USDA Zones 4–8.

Image: Patrick Standish
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