STAR OF PERSIA, ORNAMENTAL ONION
syn. A. albopilosum, A. cristophii
Iran, Turkey, and Central Asia.
Sunset zones 1-24.
USDA zones: 5-8.
Heat zones: 9-5.
Height: 32 inches (80 cm).
Lavender-purple, star-shaped flowers form an open globe-shaped umbel, up to 6-12 inches across that sits on top of a 12-15 inch tall stem.
Long, strap-shaped, green leaves with white hairs underneath.
Full sun to partial shade.
Fertile, humus rich, sandy, well-drained soil.
Remove offsets in autumn and plant.
Pests and Diseases:
Bulb rot can occur during our damp conditions of fall through spring. Onion fly and thrips may be a problem.
Rainy Side Notes
"… Its flower color was very similar (A. bodeanum), an inconspicuous grayish pink, very different from the beautiful, shining, bright purple flowers of cultivated A. christophii. This is a case in which the cultivated stock is far better than the wild one." ~Jānis Rukšāns
Allium christophii, although a parent to the wonderful A. ‘Globemaster’, is a striking large flowering allium in its own right. I love the enormous (up to 12 inches in diameter) globe-shaped umbels packed with the star-shaped, pinkish to lavender-purple flowers that make them look like fireworks bursting, but without the noise. The flowers last a long time in the garden and eventually dry on their stems*, giving great interest to the fall and winter garden!
I’ve heard that people go out into their gardens and spray paint their dried allium flowers. I’m not ready for that, the dried globes are striking in the garden as nature intended. To each their own, but I prefer au natural! However, I believe in the old saying—never say never. I think I would enjoy them if done creatively in the right garden setting.
If deer plague your garden, plant these alliums. When browsing your plants, they will turn up their snouts in disdain over your ornamental onions.
Plant your bulbs three to six inches deep. Because it has such a large flower, you will need to plant them 12 inches apart.
*For dried flowers, pick them while still in flower and hang upside down until dry.
Photographed in author's garden.