Summer's Surprising Polka Dots: Alliums

allium illustration

Polka dots are sweet and dainty, while being a great companion to other bold patterns. Yes, the polka dots in my garden are sweet, but they are also tough as nails and take center stage. My garden's polka dots are two lovely summer-blooming alliums: Allium 'summer beauty' and Allium 'millennium'.

I discovered summer blooming alliums a few years ago and fell in love.  I was familiar with many of the spring-blooming alliums, but didn't realize they could spread cheer throughout the heat of summer.    

Allium 'summer beauty' was the first one that captured my heart.  Ironically, it was the foliage that first struck me...long, narrow slightly twisted leaves (similar to daffodil foliage), compact and beautiful spring through fall.  This allium truly is a summer beauty from striking foliage to perfectly light purple (almost pink) globe flowers in mid-July through mid-August.  After a couple of years I was brave enough to divide my solitary plant in order to spread good cheer in other parts of my border with great success.

Last year I stumbled across Allium 'millennium'. Initially thinking it might be 'summer beauty' I was pleasantly surprised to see it was a different cultivar.  'Summer beauty' starts blooming about a week earlier, so when paired with 'millenium' your garden gains an extended celebration of color. 'Millenium' also has deeper purple flowers and is a few inches shorter.  I just had to open my heart and garden to this allium too.

With all the crazy Midwest weather we've had the last couple of years (summer droughts, extreme winter cold, soaking wet spring) my alliums always look great. They are not only beautiful, but so tough and reliable! 

To grace your garden with lovely purple polka dots in the heat of summer include both of these amazing alliums.  P.S. I have another secret: In a few weeks I'll share another allium with that blooms even later! It really can get better!


Zone: 4 to 9

Height: 18-24"

Spread: 20-24"

Bloom time: mid-July to mid-August

Bloom color: very light purple (some even think of it as light pink)

Exposure: full to part sun


Zone: 5 to 8

Height: 15-20"

Spread: 10-15"

Bloom time: late July to late August

Bloom color: purple

Exposure: full to part sun


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