Floral A to Z – Alliums

A is for Allium

Alliums hail from a family of plants that include cultivated onion, chives, garlic, scallions, shallot and leek, and if left unchanged, allium water can take on the scent of their savoury cousins. Their distinctive globe shaped, commonly purple, heads are a common feature in gardens and bouquets alike, with their striking colour and shape adding instant interest to designs.

Allium is, in fact, the Latin word for garlic, but it’s meaning in floriography, or the language of flowers, is altogether more palatable. The flowers symbolise humility, unity and patience making it a potential choice for brides concerned with floral meanings. The allium as a symbol of unity is thought to come from the root of the of the word for onion ‘unio’, and it is thought the plant was given its name as all blooms originate from a single bulb.

Alliums are widely available during the spring and summer months, with variations such as pale lilac and white becoming easier to obtain during the summer. Stems should be cut at an angle and placed in a few inches of cool clean water with an appropriate flower food, and blooms should be kept away from children and animals as they are potentially harmful if ingested. Water should be changed regularly in order to prevent it from starting to smell like the allium’s less fragrant cousins!

Due to their striking appearance alliums are often used in modern arrangements and the beauty of their stems is often showcased in tall vases with minimal foliage.

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