Allium christophii 2019 Bulb of the Year
Common Name: Star of Persia
Allium christophii, also known as Star of Persia, is one of the most spectacular hardy alliums. Records show it was planted by William Reader at the historic Reader Rock Garden in the early 1900s.
The globe-shaped flowerheads, up to 30 cm in diameter, rise above the foliage on 35–60 cm tall leafless stems. Each flowerhead is actually a cluster of up to 100 star-shaped, silvery-purple flowers. The bloom period is quite long and the seed heads remain attractive throughout much of the summer.
It blooms in late spring to early summer just as the spring-flowering bulbs begin to fade.
The bulbs of A. christophii must be planted in the fall in holes 10–15 cm deep and 20–30 cm apart in groups of five, seven or more. Alliums love full sun and will grow in most types of well-draining soil. The plant life may be short-lived but are still well worth growing. Allowing the plants to bloom only every second year may prolong the lifespan.
One challenge with alliums is that the foliage begins to wither just as the flowers start to bloom.
Interplanting A. christophii amongst perennials such as Alchemilla mollis (lady’s mantle) or Geranium ‘Rozanne’ will help to hide the dying foliage. Ornamental grasses such as Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Bronzeschlier’ (bronze veil hair grass), and Helictotrichon sempervirens (blue oat grass) make great companions.
Alliums are deer and rabbit resistant and have no serious pest or disease problems.