Allium sphaerocephalum,
purple-headed garlick     1766

purple-headed garlick heirloom bulbspurple-headed garlick bagtag

In America’s first bulb catalog in 1820, William Prince listed just one allium: “purple-headed garlick.” Often called “drumsticks” today, this easy, deer-resistant perennial has 1-inch, egg-shaped flowerheads that start green, turn rose, and end up wine-red. Cool! 30-36”, zones 4a-7b(9bWC), from Holland.


SUB TYPE   wildflower

ZONES   4a-7b(9bWC)

HEIGHT   30-36”

BLOOM SEASONS   early summer

LIGHT   full sun


Choose a sunny site with well-drained soil, though alliums are adaptable to most soils except heavy clay. Plant with tip up, about 3” deep and 4-5” apart (or closer for a lush look sooner). Scratch a bit of bulb fertilizer into the soil surface after planting (slow-release 10-10-10 is ideal) and water well.

Consider protecting with plastic netting, chicken-wire, etc., for a few weeks after planting, typically the only time critters bother these relatively animal-resistant bulbs.

Mulch lightly or not at all. Bark mulch is often too thick or heavy for small bulbs to emerge through and their growth will suffer.

When well established, alliums don’t require a lot of water. Water moderately their first spring till they bloom. After that and in following years they’ll do best if you allow them to dry out between waterings.

Learn how to use alliums in bouquets at our Bulbs as Cut-Flowers page.

Learn more about growing and enjoying alliums at our Fall Diverse Newsletter Archives.