Allium senescens

Common Name: German garlic 
Type: Bulb
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Native Range: Europe, temperate Asia
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 0.75 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Pale pink to purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Tolerate: Deer

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Best in full sun, but appreciates some light afternoon shade in hot summer climates. Tolerates a wide range of soils. Tolerates drought. Although this allium is a true bulb (albeit weakly developed) on a rhizome, it forms a clump which can be lifted and divided somewhat easily in either spring or autumn. It will spread in the landscape by short fleshy rhizomes and by self-seeding. Deadheading spent umbels before seed sets not only helps control unwanted spread but also helps build a stronger bloom for the following year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Allium senescens, commonly known as German garlic or mountain garlic, is an ornamental onion that typically produces 4-9 grass-like, somewhat flattened, broad linear green leaves (1/4” to 1/2” wide) which rise in a dense clump to 6-12” tall. Leaves are semi-evergreen in warm winter climates, but will typically disappear in cool to cold winter climates as soon as fall temperatures dip below 25 degrees F. Hollow, leafless, unbranched, 2-angled or 2-winged flowering scapes rise above the foliage clump in mid-summer to as much as 24” tall, each scape bearing a single terminal globose umbel (to 1” across) of 20-30 tiny pale pink to purple florets. Flowers typically bloom from mid to late summer, sometimes into early fall. German garlic is native to forests, dry stony slopes, steppes, saline meadows and gravelly places from western Europe across northern Asia to Siberia, Mongolia, Manchuria, China and Korea. Although all parts of this plant have an oniony smell and taste when cut or bruised, this species is considered to be an ornamental and is not usually used for culinary purposes.

Genus name comes from the classical Latin name for garlic.

Specific epithet means growing old.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Potential diseases include downy mildew, smut and white rot. Onion fly and thrips are occasional insect pests in some areas. Plants may colonize but are not considered to be as invasive as some of the other alliums.

Uses

Rock gardens, border fronts, herb gardens. Good edging plant for gardens or paths. Naturalized areas. Roof gardens. Good cut flower (harvest the stems when about 1/2 of the umbel florets are in open bloom).