Planting allium, the lollipop of the garden | L.A. at Home via latimesblogs.latimes.com

I was just discussing alliums with my sister, Donna, a few days ago and now I seem to be seeing them everywhere. Here are a few Los Angeles friendly albums we could be growing in our gardens. — Douglas
 

Fall bulb catalogs are sweetened with alluring eye candy, including those lollipop-shaped alliums. Their large, globed flower heads consist of petite star-like blossoms that shoot from stems rising 2 to 4 feet. But unless you want to dig up the bulbs and refrigerate them for weeks every year, most alliums are temptations to be resisted.

Southern California has the warm, dry summers these bulbs favor but not the cold winters they usually require. Joan Citron, editor of “Selected Plants for Southern California Gardens,” has tried about 10 kinds in her Reseda garden. For the most part, they’ve thrived only in colder years. “I think they’re gorgeous,” she says, “but they’re not worth the trouble.”

Does that mean gardeners here should steer clear of ornamental alliums, relatives of culinary onion, leek and garlic?

Not necessarily. Though a few can be aggressive and weedy, others will settle in nicely. Garden designer James Duell is bowled over by the 2-foot-wide spheres of amethyst-colored Allium schubertii that thrive amid aloes and agaves in his Culver City garden.

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