Allium glandulosum, late-flowering Mexican onion

Mark McDonough
Sun, 14 Sep 2008 14:50:47 PDT
Hello all,

Nine years ago I received plants of Allium glandulosum, collected in San Luis Potosi, central Mexico, this species described as a fall bloomer found in moist conditions.  Grown in pots those nine years, overwintered in my dark basement, with the pots set outside for the summer, it has managed to increase and flower a couple of times, but the plants seemed to struggle overall due to my less-than-ideal winter storage conditions.  With limited space and tired of wintering over potted bulbs in my dark, overly warm basement, I decided to "chance it" and plant them all outside last summer, in three different spots to increase the chance of success.  I did so, after being inspired by the success of another Mexican Allium species, A. mannii, which is perfectly hardy here over many years.…

I was worried in spring, because there was no sign of life until about mid June!  But in all three locations they did eventually sprout and have grown well and are currently in bud and opening the first couple of blooms this weekend.  I must say, the plants have grown much more robustly in the open grown, where they seem happy.

The inflorescence is loose, approximately 17 florets forming a diffuse head about 3-1/2" across on stems about 14"-16" tall.  The buds are dark smokey purple that open into starry blooms of a shiney metallic oxblood red.  Here are three images of this most unique fall-blooming Mexican allium:………

I have another pot full of Allium glandulosum from another source, collected in Sierra de Guanajuato (about 70 miles SW of San Luis Potosi, Mexico), collected by M.Rix, came to me via Arnis Seisums, with collection note "dry frost-free winter".  My 3 bulbs sent to me in 2002 have increased to 10, so once again, I shall plant this out this fall and see what happens.  This collection has never bloomed, but looks similar to the other one I'm growing, being distinctive in that it is stoloniferous and travels along the edges of a pot, and has red stem bases and very narrow leaves.

Another Rix collection via Seisums is Allium scaposum, which looks rather similar in growth; rhizomatous increase, narrow upright leaves, only once producing a scape of white red-nerved flowers in an open inflorescence.  It too shall be hoisted out into the garden this fall and left to fend for itself.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, near the New Hampshire border, USDA Zone 5

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