Allium cernuum, also known as Nodding Onion, is a striking perennial herb that produces stunning white, purple, or rose-coloured bell-shaped flowers on long, sturdy stems in early to mid-summer. The flowers sway gracefully in the breeze, making them ideal for adding movement and visual interest to garden beds, borders, and containers.
This low-maintenance plant is summer dormant and grows from an elongate, long-necked, narrowly egg-shaped, scaly bulb. The basal leaves are linear, smooth, and shorter than the flowering stem. The inflorescence is a compact, terminal, nodding umbel of several to many flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The plant also has medicinal properties and has been used to treat respiratory ailments and kidney stones.
Nodding Onion thrives in full sun and moist, humus-rich, neutral to alkaline soils. It has high CaCO3 tolerance and is most effectively planted in small groups. Plants should be divided every third year or when 8-10 bulbs appear in the clump. However, it is important to note that some Allium species can become weedy in warmer climates.
Not only is this plant visually appealing, but it is also beneficial for wildlife. The bulbs are utilized by bears and ground squirrels, and the early spring herbage is grazed by elk and deer. The plant is also a nectar source and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. The plant is also said to repel insects and moles, and the juice can be applied to exposed skin to repel biting insects.
Overall, the Allium cernuum, or Nodding Onion, is a versatile and visually striking plant perfect for gardens, containers, and landscapes. With its low maintenance requirements and numerous benefits, it is a great addition to any green space.
Most effectively planted in small groups, benefits from being divided every third year or when 8-10 bulbs appear in the clump.
General: Perennial herb from an elongate, long-necked, narrowly egg-shaped, scaly bulb, the outer scales membranous, without a fibrous network, the inner scales faintly pinkish, the bulbs often clustered; flowering stems erect but down-curved near the top, 10-50 cm tall, slender, often somewhat angled, smooth.
Leaves: Basal leaves several per bulb, linear, flat to channeled, shorter than the flowering stem, about 3 mm wide, smooth, the margins entire or minutely toothed; stem leaves lacking.
Flowers: Inflorescence a compact, terminal, nodding umbel of several to many, stalked flowers, above 2 membranous bracts, the stalks 1-3 cm long, the bracts soon deciduous; flowers pink to rose-purple or whitish, bell-shaped, of 6 distinct tepals, the tepals 4-6 mm long, elliptic-egg-shaped, blunt; stamens 6, exserted; pistil 1, 3-chambered.
Fruits: Capsules, more or less egg-shaped, 3-lobed, with 6 crests, 2 on each lobe; seeds 6 or fewer, dull-black.