Maroon balls on sticks definitely liven up the garden. Often mixed plantings meld into one big mish-mash so you need plants that will stop the eye. The balls of Allium sphaerocephalon, the drumstick allium, dancing among other plants definitely get your attention – adding interest, even whimsy to the garden.
Alliums like sun, and well-drained soil. Like most bulbs, water-logged soils are likely to lead to rot. Drumstick alliums self-sow for me – too thickly – so that they need to be thinned, a bit like the vegetable garden. (Note: It takes more than one year to go from seed to flowering size.) A. sphaerocephalon blooms in the summer with 1″ slightly elongate balls that fall somewhere in the maroon, red-violet, magenta range.
The foliage is a big nothing so it is best to plant drumstick alliums adjacent to/behind plants with better-looking foliage. I like them paired with a grass. In the photo above A. sphaerocephalon is paired with Pennisetum orientale – add in Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ for a nice trio. (All 3 are herbaceous so they will disappear over the winter.) I particularly like Pennisetum as the grass choice with the Allium because they bloom at the same time (the Pennisetum is an early-blooming grass) and the two flowerheads work wonderfully together.
A variety of ornamental onions are available, differing in size, color and bloom time so you can add have dancing flowerballs in your garden throughout the spring and summer. (Go here to see Allium ‘Gladiator’ , which is a bit like a purple size 3 soccer ball on a stick, it DEFINITELY catches the eye.)