Another Reason to Love Ornamental Alliums: Seed Heads!

Allium Seed Heads

I am crazy about ornamental alliums. Though I already have about a dozen different types of them in my garden, I’m always planting more. In addition to being visually exciting, alliums are also long-blooming, pollinator-friendly and seemingly immune to diseases and pests, including deer.

allium christophii

And if that’s not enough, here’s yet another reason to love alliums: their seed heads! Once these late spring/early summer flowers go by, their seed heads can be an equally compelling attraction. Many of them will last for months, adding interesting shapes and textures to the garden and summer flower arrangements. Read on to learn how to make the most of these decorative seed heads.

Another Reason to Love Alliums - Longfield-Gardens

Use Allium Seed Heads in Fresh Arrangements

You can cut the seed heads while they’re still green and add them to fresh flower arrangements. Their color, shape and texture bring a special sparkle to home-grown bouquets. Allium Purple Sensation is ideal for this.

Another Reason to Love Alliums - Longfield-Gardens

Leave Seed Heads Right in the Garden

You can leave the seed heads right in the garden, where their unusual shapes and textures will continue to attract admirers. I find alliums with strong, thick stems such as Globemaster and Gladiator last the longest. That said, the seed heads of allium Christophiii also last for months. In a dry summer, they can still look good right through August.

Another Reason to Love Alliums - Longfield Gardens

Display the Seed Heads Indoors

You can cut the stems and bring them indoors to create striking flower arrangements that last for weeks or even months.

Another Reason to Love Alliums - Longfield-Gardens

Paint the Dried Seed Heads

Another option is to let the seed heads dry completely and then paint them. Last year I dried some Gladiator seed heads and then gilded them with gold spray paint. They came out looking a little more bronze than gold. This year I may try silver paint.

Another Reason to Love Alliums - Longfield-Gardens

I have also sprayed the dried seed heads with glossy white paint and used them in wedding arrangements. The ones shown below are Gladiator.

Another Reason to Love Alliums - Longfield Gardens

If you want to dry allium seed heads for painting or simply displaying indoors, here’s a tip. The seed heads should be sprayed with paint or a clear fixative after they are dry, but before the seed capsules begin to open and release the seeds. By sealing the seeds inside the capsules at the end of each “stem” you will preserve the starburst effect and also won’t have to sweep up lots of seeds.

In the photo below, the seed head is not dry enough to paint, but the swollen seed capsules are evident.

Another Reason to Love Alliuns - Longfield Gardens

To see some beautiful dried alliums (Allium schubertii) hanging from the rafters in an old stone barn in Wiltshire, England, check out this article on Gardenista.

The time to plant ornamental alliums is mid to late fall. We take orders starting in May and ship bulbs from September through early November. Ordering early is the only way to make sure you will get the varieties you want. You can view our complete selection HERE.

To learn more about these easy and impressive fall-planted, spring-blooming bulbs, you may be interested in reading: All About Alliums, Types of Alliums, Planning Guide for Alliums, and Alliums for Every Garden.