August 10, 2018

Plant of the Month: 'Summer Beauty' Alliums

SB with swallowtail 1

When I looked out the window the other day and saw an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly on the blooming alliums, I knew what the plant of the month had to be. Fortunately, the butterfly stayed long enough for me to grab my camera and head outside for a few shots.

Something more exciting happened on this plant a couple of days later, but I'll cover that later in this post.

summer beauty 1

I added Allium tanguticum 'Summer Beauty' to the garden a few years ago. I ordered a few bulbs, and also Linda at Each Little World was kind enough to give me some when she divided hers. I planted them here and there in the garden, and while not all of them bloom every year, they find little spots of sun. I planted these beauties because, well...they're beauties, but also because they repel rabbits!

'Summer Beauty' is dramatic massed in a sunny border, but I don't have a choice--I have dappled sun in most of my garden, so that's the way it is. I noticed, however, that it's listed as tolerant of shade, which is true. This hybrid allium, like 'Millenium,' blooms in mid- through late summer, but it starts just a little earlier and the color is a little lighter--lavender-pink--where 'Millenium' is a brighter purple. They're great companions, though, as they bloom around the same time.

Here are a few details about 'Summer Beauty':

  • Height: 12"-18"
  • Spread: 18"-24"
  • Hardiness zones: 5 to 8
  • Attributes: Tolerant of drought, shade, and sun; seeds are sterile

SB with littles

Oh, and then there's the fact that it attracts pollinators of all types! It's fun to watch them climbing among the little flowers of the umbel bloom.

SB with RP 1

And here's the special joy that happened while I was photographing the flowers: The endangered rusty-patched bumblebee made an appearance!

SB with RP 2

I was thrilled to see this rare bumblebee in the garden: I must be doing something right to attract it! I hope to post more in the future about this special pollinator (the first bumblebee to be listed as endangered). Until then, You can read more about its special story here.

summer beauty 2

So, yes, I'd say 'Summer Beauty' Allium was a good addition to the garden! Do you have any summer-blooming alliums?

sb with swallowtail 2

31 comments:

  1. Wow, that's so exciting to see the rush-patched bumblebee in your garden! What a great plant indeed to attract such beauties! I've heard great things about that allium, though I don't grow it. I do have nodding alliums currently in bloom, though, which are a little different and delicate looking.

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    1. Yes, it was! I need to get out in the garden again to see if I can find more. I've been busy with some family stuff lately and haven't had a chance. I would like to add some nodding onions, too, so I need to get on that!

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  2. No I don't have any summer blooming alliums. BAH...
    Congrats on finding the Rusty patch bumble. How exciting! I hope they are living in your little oasis because I know you will bee taking good care of them.

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    1. Ha! I hope they like the flowering plants. Re: the alliums...I think they bloom earlier some years, but this year all the foliage is so lush they probably had to work harder to find some sun. If you have some sunny spots for them, they will be so happy in your garden. :)

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  3. A bumblebee and a butterfly; you're definitely doing something right! I've admired these because of their late bloom time and will definitely add some to my bulb order this year. Thanks for the bumblebee link!

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    1. Thanks, Peter. Yes, the 'Summer Beauties' are a good investment. I'm planning to add 'Millennium' and some Nodding Onions, too. One can never have too many alliums.

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  4. This allium charmed us all - butterfly, bee and certainly me. A testament to your gardening Beth

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    1. Thanks, Laura. When it blooms, the "friends" come flying through. :)

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  5. A plant that repels rabbits? I need some of those! Sadly, Alliums in general don't do well in my garden, although I finally found 2 species that can handle my climate (whether they'll come back for a second year is still a question). They're not the onion-smelly ones, though, so I suspect they have no repellent quality.

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    1. Well, I think they help. I'm surprised they wouldn't like your climate. Is it because they need a dormant period? Most of the ornamental alliums seem to do pretty well here, although they'd be even happier with a little more sun.

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  6. Wow--this allium is clearly a pollinator favorite, no wonder you have this in your garden. My non-native Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) are beginning their welcomed bloom cycle.

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    1. Yes, it is! I thought about Garlic Chives, too, and Nodding Onions. They're all so awesome!

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  7. Great photos .. wow, I do love the bright green pollinator in photo number 3.

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    1. Thanks, Carla! I think it's a sweat bee, but I'm not sure which one. They are brilliantly colored, aren't they?!

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  8. I wish I had some allium in my gardens . . .
    I did have a nice patch of them until they redid our roads
    and I lost some of my plants.
    Haapy to be motivated by yiour post and pictures.
    My allium was from my daughters gardens
    and I know I can transplant some more of hers here for me.
    Wonderful photos Beth . . .

    The Swallowtail is so pretty and happy to see the rare, endanferesd bumble bee!

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    1. Thank you, Lynne. The 'Summer Beauty' is nice for many reasons, but especially because of the time it blooms--so few alliums bloom at this time of year.

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  9. I have spring blooming Allium in my garden and love it. Now I'll need to look into this one! Your captures of the bumble bee and Swallowtail are beautiful!

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    1. I seem to keep adding more alliums every year. It's almost to the point that I have some type of allium blooming during the entire growing season. They're all wonderful!

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  10. I appreciated the link to information on bumble bees and particularly the rusty- patched bumble bee. I can understand why you were thrilled to play host to this species, as well as other pollinators .The allium is beautiful; great photos!

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    1. Thanks, Deb. Yes, it's very exciting! Hopefully, this means they're finding favorable nesting grounds here or nearby. I'll be more aware of bumblebee markings from here on out. 'Summer Beauty' is wonderful for so many reasons!

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  11. Wonderfully clear details on the butterfly and bumble.

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    1. Thanks, Diana. I was fortunate they stuck around long enough to capture a few photos. :)

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  12. Yes, this is a great plant. I started growing it after seeing it at Lurie Garden. How do you make your pictures so sharp???

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    1. Yes, Olbrich Botanical Gardens has 'Summer Beauty' and 'Millennium' en masse, and they're stunning! Thanks for your kind comment. Sometimes it's luck, I think, and also subjects that stick around long enough to snap a few photos.

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  13. That's very cool! congratulations :))

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  14. I have a swath of these planted in my traffic island. Love them. Have you seen Allium ‘Windy City’?

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  15. Beautiful flowers, and very special to have the endangered bumblebee!
    Thanks for you comment on my blog post about figs. We just eat them as fresh fruit. My mother-in-law used to make fig preserves when we had a larger harvest, but now the critters get more figs than we do!

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  16. I brought 'Millennium' alliums over to my new garden from my old and love them! I need to add more of a different variety so I might try these. :o)

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  17. I grow garlic chives - Allium tuberosum - http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=u770

    Beautiful, repels rabbits (maybe?), attracts lots of pollinators. Very tough. It's even edible. Only drawback - it's a bit ... assertive in its self-seeding tendencies. Although I suppose I could just snip the spent flowerheads to cut back on the number of volunteers.

    Do the hybrids (Milennium and Summer Beauty) spread themselves around exuberantly too?

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  18. Gorgeous bee and butterfly, what a treat to have these lovely creatures visiting your garden.

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