Facts about the Allium Gladiator
One would not normally associate a plant of the onion family as a spectacular showstopper in the garden, but the Allium Gladiator is just that. Elegant and stately, its presence in a landscape will certainly capture the attention of any passerby.
The onion family, or allium, encompasses a number of plants. It has, in fact, so many species that it is considered to be the largest plant genus across the globe. All plants in the family are perennials, and exhibit a bulbous flower that sits on top of a single stalk which lacks any leaves. All of the alliums are edible, although when intended for food use the plant is usually not allowed to flower.
Several species of the allium family, such as the allium gladiator, are used chiefly for ornamental purposes although it has an edible bulb. The gladiator is a popular choice for gardens due to its purplish blue coloration and its large flower heads. Measuring from 6 inches to 9 inches in diameter, the vibrant globes give an incredible burst of color and interest. The flower head itself is composed of clusters of tiny light purple, starfish shaped blooms. Silvery hued tips make the blossoms even more attractive.
Another feature leading to the appeal of the gladiator is its resistance to animals. Many bulb plants face the danger of being sought out and removed by wild creatures who consider them to be delicacies. Allium, however, is one bulbous plant that animals avoid, making them desirable for gardeners who pursue an ongoing battle with backyard critters. Planting allium bulbs around other bulbs with earlier bloom times, such as tulips and daffodils, may prove to be a hindrance to the hunters of those bulbs as well while providing the gardener with an area of continuous bloom and beauty.
The garden is not the only place that the beauty of the gladiator can shine. It makes a stunning addition in a vase of cut flowers, and will provide long lasting endurance for greater enjoyment. Its soft bluish coloring is a complement to any other cut flower, or stand on their own displayed in a vase with other gladiator mounds. Drying the blooms can preserve the lovely display for extended use in the home.
Planting the allium gladiator in the landscape is most often done in the fall in order to achieve a spring bloom. Traditional bloom time of the majestic plant is late spring to early summer, and holds its blooms for several weeks’ worth of enjoyable viewing. A location with full sun and well drained soil will present the ideal home for the gladiator. Consider which of the other garden plants will be blooming at the same time as the gladiator; with a plant height that can reach 5 feet, the bulbs are usually best planted toward the back of the garden bed. As with all bulbs, the pointed end of the bulb should look upwards. Position the bulb in a hole that has been dug around 3” deep, cover with soil and water well.
For the most dazzling display appeal, plant several allium gladiator bulbs in close proximity. At least six inches should be left between the planted bulbs to allow room for the roots to reach out. During the bloom season, provide plenty of water to the flowering plant. After bloom season has ended, leave the spent flower mounds as they will be collecting energy from the sun that will be stored until next season.
While onions and garlic may not be thought of in most circles as an attractive prospect for a flowering plant, the allium gladiator is one species of the family that is used more for its ornamental value than edible.