Allium aflatunense, commonly known as Persian onion or ornamental onion, is a perennial bulb and member of the Amaryllidaceae family.
A late-spring bloomer, it is recognized for its typically one-inch (2.5 cm), dense purple or lavender spherical clusters that sit atop two-to-three foot (60 to 90 cm), nearly leafless (except at its base) stems. The plant spread is around four inches (10 cm).
Ornamental onions photograph by F. D. Richards; CC.
These low-maintenance flowers thrive in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8; UK hardy in most areas.
Allium aflatunense photograph by Charles Smith.
Purple sensation, a cultivar with larger, showier globes, is great to use to fill gaps in garden beds where early spring flowers have begun to fade but summer blooms have not yet arrived.
They are particularly eye-catching when strewn with assorted wildflowers in meadows and other naturalized areas.
Allium aflatunense attracts bees and butterflies.
Beautiful Allium aflatunense globe shaped flowers, photograph by Charles Smith; CC.
Allium aflatunense prefers full sun or partial shade and moist, well-drained, clay, loamy or sandy alkaline soils.
For spring flowering, rhizomes / bulbs are best planted in the autumn (fall) before the first frost at about four to six inches (10 to 15 cm) deep.
To ensure that there is no risk of roots becoming intertwined, plant them about four to six inches (10 to 15 cm) apart.
Water deeply after planting.
There are a handful of varieties of this plant, and you can add interest to your garden by buying a few different ones that will display in different colors such as blues, pinks, whites and yellows.
Seeds from this plant can also be propagated in containers in cold frames when they are ripe or in the spring.
Offsets from the mother plants should be removed and planted in autumn. It typically takes about one or two years for plants to reach their full height.
Allium Aflatunense Purple Sensation variety, photograph by Jean Jones; CC.