Another Reason to Love Ornamental Alliums: Seed Heads!
The big, round flower heads of ornamental alliums are irresistible — at least they are to me. My gardens now contain about a dozen different types, yet still I crave more. There’s just something so unexpected and playful about them. These hardy and reliable perennials are also long-blooming, pollinator-friendly and seemingly immune to diseases and pests, including deer.
As if that’s not enough, here’s yet another reason to love alliums: their seed heads! Though the late spring/early summer flowers eventually fade and lose their color, what remains is still impressive — both in and out of the garden. Here are some ways to make the most of these decorative seed heads.
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.
Leave Them 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.
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.
Spray 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. This year I plan to paint some of them silver.
I have also sprayed the dried seed heads with glossy white paint and used them in wedding arrangements. The ones shown below are Gladiator.
If you want to dry allium seed heads for painting or displaying indoors, here’s a tip. The seed heads should be sprayed with paint or a clear fixative when they are dry, but before the 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 still too green to paint, but the swollen seed capsules are evident.
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 fall, and we are able to ship bulbs from September through early November. Plan ahead to make sure you get the varieties you want. You can view our complete selection HERE and pre-order your bulbs from about April on.