Introduction

Alliums are members of the Liliaceae family. They are native to Asia, Europe, North Africa and North America. There are approximately 500 different species. They grow from a perennial bulb and have a thin stem with between one and twelve leaves, depending on the species. Their round shaped head displays many small florets. As garden flowers, Alliums make delightful subjects for rockeries and herbaceous borders.

In the plant kingdom, Alliums are related to onions, garlic and chives. Several also have an attractive fragrance to their flowers. Allium giganteum is the variety most suited to cut flower production. It produces a purple flower on top of a tall stem. This plant flowers in early summer and is more suited to the drier coastal or inland areas of Southern New Zealand.

Growing Alliums

Propagation: From bulbs.
Yields/ha: 1 stem per plant. Spacing 30cm apart minimum.
Time of flowering: Mid summer.
Crop protection: Wind protection needed. FloraNet would be usefull.
Soil type: Free draining, friable, fertile soil, pH 6.5 - 7.5
Fertilisers: A general purpose NPK fertiliser should be applied.
Weed control: General weeding only.
Pest/Diseases: Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Sclerotium (White root).
Harvesting: Alliums are harvested when the head is 50% open. Early picking of flowers results in less colour development of flowers and reduced vase life. Bulbs are lifted when the majority of the foliage has dried off.
Marketing: Markets for this crop are found in Europe, Canada and USA. There is also a local market for the bulbs.

Further Information

Plant material for Alliums can be quite hard to source. One contact we do have is for Ted Downing at GreenHarvest Pacific in Auckland on 0800 447 864.
Another is Jane Preston. She can be contacted at Bannockburn Floriculture or through their website www.foxtail.co.nz

Wikipedia article