Pronounced: AL-lee-um ka-ra-tah-vee-EN-see
Sunset zones 1-24.
USDA zones: 5-9.
Heat zones: 9-5.
Height: 4-10 inches (10-25 cm).
Two to three-inch diameter spherical umbel of 50 or more, flowers on a 6-inch stem.
Just above ground level the thick, leathery, pleated, 6-inch long leaves. 'Ivory White' has a pale, pewter tone.
Full sun to partial shade.
Dry, well-drained, ordinary garden 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
Allium karataviense is a spunky plant with a large flower globe. It is a dwarf ornamental onion compared to the giant species in the Melanocrommyum group of alliums, in which it belongs. It grows exceptionally well in our Mediterranean climate, as the plants go dormant by the time our annual drought comes around. Some gardeners grow the species and its cultivars because it has the most attractive foliage in the entire genus. Its horizontal, long, leathery, pleated foliage is green with a striking purple cast. As the blossom first opens, it is nestled on top of the attractive foliage; the flowering stems continue to grow. It pushes the large, spherical umbels up and away from the leaves as they begin to look shabby. When you plant bulbs en masse in a garden bed or container, use companion perennials that are late in filling out, or annuals to fill in any bare soil the bulb's dormant state leaves behind.
Sensitive to excess moisture, these alliums are prone to rot, so grow them in well-drained soil in the ground or in deep containers with excellent drainage. Some A. karataviense cultivars available are 'Ivory Queen', 'Lucky' and 'Red Globe'.
Photographed in author's garden.