Allium connoisseurs will tell you this little-known Allium is the most beautiful of them all. They point to nodding clusters of delicate wavy-edged bells in soft shades of rose and lilac set above masses of slender grass-like glaucous foliage.
Allium narcissiflorum is a little known but highly superior species that produces large, pink-magenta, open-mouthed flowers each in the shape of a hand-bell, held in a cluster at the top of the stem.
Native to Northern Portugal and the south-western Alps, and amongst limestone rocks of NW Italy. Allium narcissiflorum is a species with very small bulbs that forms clumps of many individuals. The flower scapes are held in a cluster at the top of a 15cm stem bearing up to ten bell-shaped magenta flowers.
Native to Northern Portugal and the south-western Alps and amongst limestone rocks of NW Italy.
Plant in a sunny spot in a well-drained limey soil if possible.
Allium narcissiflorum is one of the treasures of the genus, with neat and tidy growth. These factors, taken with its lovely colouring and appearance, endears it to all who see the true plant in flower.
Sowing: Sow at any time of year.
The seeds can be sown directly where they are to flower at any time of year, or can be sown indoors, the seedlings over wintered in the greenhouse and then planted out in the following spring.
Allium seeds need a period of moisture and cold after harvest before they will germinate, usually this is necessary to either allow the embryo to mature or to break dormancy.
If sown indoors in warmer weather, the period of dormancy can be artificially stimulated by placing the moistened seed in a refrigerator. It is best to sow them on moistened, well draining compost, seal the container in a polythene bag and leave everything in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 weeks at around 4 to 5°C (39 to 41°F). The seeds must be moist whilst being pre-chilled, but it doesn't usually benefit them to be actually in water or at temperatures below freezing. After prechilling bring out of the fridge to 13 to 16°F (55 to 60°F)
Light seems to be beneficial and so pre-chilled seeds should have only the lightest covering of compost over them, and the seed trays etc. should be in the light. Compost should be kept moist but not wet at all times. Germination should occur 18 to 21 days.
Prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays to grow on. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out.
Plant out in spring into fertile, well drained soil. Add grit when grown in clay soils to improve drainage. Remember that the foliage dies back as flowering commences; you may wish to place this behind a smaller plant to disguise its foliage. When planting try to plant in groups of at least 3 or 5 as they do look much better in clumps.
Prepare the soil prior to planting by cultivating up to 30cm of soil, on heavier soils add a couple of handfuls of grit under each Allium before planting to improve drainage. Alliums grow well in most soil types but do prefer to be planted in well-drained sunny spots. The bulbs of Alliums vary tremendously in size so the best advice on planting depth is to plant Allium bulbs at a depth of three to four time their depth in the soil. On light soils, increase the planting depths to help anchor the taller varieties. The soil around Alliums should be kept moist during the flowering period.
Alliums in pots:
To plant in pots ensure you have a sturdy deep container (the height and weight of the taller alliums will cause smaller containers to topple over), put crocks in the bottom to allow for drainage and then add about 10cms of potting compost. Place the Allium bulbs on top of the compost so that they are not touching the outside pot or each other. Cover with at least 20cms of potting compost and firm down. During the winter months ensure the compost is kept moist but not too wet and protect from frost. When you see the first signs of growth in the spring (March-April) increasing the amount of water to ensure the compost does not dry out.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds, Gravel Garden or Rock Garden.
Alliums can be left undisturbed from year to year and as long as they are well fed will continue to flower. If you do need to lift them wait until the flower stems and leaves have turned brown and break off when touched. The bulbs can then be dug up (around July) and their offsets removed. After they have been cleaned of soil, leave in a cool light place until they can be planted again in September. Only replant bulbs that look healthy and of a good size.
All members of the Allium family are disliked by many insects and animals. They can be used to protect valuable planting areas against mice, moles, slugs and snails, Even dogs take no interest in the flower beds that they inhabit.
Allium narcissiflorum is a plant species native to northwestern Italy (Piemonte and Liguria), southwest France (Provence and Dauphiné) and northern Portugal.
It is found on rocky slopes and screes between 800 and 2,600 meters above sea level, but is more common between 1400 and 2300 meters.
The genus name Allium is the Latin word for garlic.
The species name narcissiflorum is named for the genus narcissus, the daffodil and florum means flower, so meaning ‘with daffodil like flowers’
In mythology, Narcissus wasthe handsome son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope, who was so entranced by his own beauty that he spurned all others. He was condemned to fell in love with himself in such a way that he could not have what he desired, and seeing his reflection in a pool, that which was only shadow and unreachable, he was so overcome that he wasted away. The gods then turned him into the Narcissus flower.
Alliums are bulbous geophytes. Plants whose body is a perennial bulb from which, every year, are born flowers and leaves.
Allium narcissiflorum is a small and delicate plant very similar to A. insubricum but found at higher elevation in the mountains. Allium insubricum was once considered a subspecies of Allium narcissiflorum, both are equally attractive and desirable species.
The two species are inevitably confused as they are almost identical, the major difference being that while the umbels are pendant or nodding in both species, they remain pendant in A. insubricum, but become erect when going to seed in A. narcissiflorum.
The flower colour is not really important diagnostically, in both species it is variable, ranging from light pink, to deep reddish-purple, although it seems A. insubricum more commonly has the deeper colour forms.
Allium narcissiflorum has slightly smaller flowers than insubricum, more openly campanulate too, and with potentially more flowers per head. The foliage is a little narrower in narcissiflorum and rather delicate, while it is wider and more robust in insubricum.
- Additional Information
Average Seed Count 25 seeds Family Alliaceae Genus Allium Species narcissiflorum Common Name Piedmont Garlic, Flowers of Narcissus Hardiness Bulbous Perennial Flowers Late Spring to Early Summer Height 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) Spread 30 to 38cm (12 to 15in) Position Full Sun to Partial Shade Germination 30 - 365 days