Allium altaicum
Common Name: onion
Type: Bulb
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Native Range: Siberia to northern China
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Yellowish-white
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Vegetable, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Fragrant
Tolerate: Deer, Black Walnut

Culture

Winter hardy to USDA Zones 6 (perhaps 5) to 9 where this plant is easily grown in deep, rich, moderately dry to moist, well-drained, sandy loams in full sun. Plants tolerate a variety of soil types. Plants perform best with consistent moisture during the growing season. May be grown as an annual in cold winter areas where it is not winter hardy.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Allium altaicum, sometimes commonly called altai onion, is a perennial of the onion family that is native to rocky slopes and plains in southern Siberia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. It typically forms a basal clump to 12-15” tall of narrow, glaucous, grass-like, linear leaves with entire margins and parallel venation. Bell-shaped, yellowish-white flowers in spherical umbels bloom in mid to late summer atop naked rounded hollow scapes rising above the foliage to 24-28” tall. Edible parts of this allium are the onion-flavored young spring leaves, summer flowers and underground bulbs.

A. fistulosum, the bunching onion, may have developed in the wild from the within species in the area of the Altai Mountains to Lake Baikal.

Genus name comes from the classical Latin name for garlic.

Specific epithet is in reference to the Altai Mountains which are within the native habitat of this flower. Altai means gold mountain in Mongolian.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Bulb rot may occur in overly moist soils. Slugs attack young plants. Mildew, rust and leaf spots may appear. Watch for onion maggots and thrips.

Garden Uses

Borders, cottage gardens, wild gardens. May be grown in herb gardens and vegetable gardens. Plants in flower have good ornamental qualities.