Allium schubertii – Here Comes The Fun

Jul 8, 2017 | Love This!

As they sat around the firepit at their friends’ new house, the conversation turned to the landscaping. “I want to have plants back here that are fragrant,” their host said. “I want to have lots of flowers in my backyard,” said one guest dreamily, sipping her white wine. “I want shrubs that are easy to take care of,” a man said as he placed a new marshmallow on his stick.

“I like all of those ideas,” the hostess said, “but I also want some things that are just plain fun.”

Meet Allium schubertii, a plant that’s just plain fun.


Name: Allium schubertii aka….well, Allium schubertii, although one source I read calls them tumbleweed onions.

Type of Plant: Low-growing, dramatic looking bulb in the onion family that’s hardy in Zones 5-8.  OK, that’s the most boring plant description ever.

Start again. This is an Allium that looks like a fireworks display in your garden.  The flower is short (around 20″ tall) but packs tremendous firepower.  It’s a plant that reminds me of an early 1960’s Sputnik graphic. A flower that remains interesting and sculptural even as it dies.

Why I love this: Aside from the firepower, graphic and sculptural interest? Plant the bulbs in the fall and prepare to laugh in the spring. Get ready for guests to ask “What is that?” Know that children will want to run around the yard holding a dried schubertii flower, pretending it’s a sparkler or a magic wand. You’ll soon be thinking of spray painting the dried ones, and sticking them in odd corners of the garden, or placing them in a container that didn’t fill out as planned. In other words, get ready for fun.

A Word to the Wise:  Full sun, great drainage.

A picture is worth a thousand words so I don’t have to say much here except that this is the flower as it starts to open.

In full color, a week or so later…

When other plants are grown under and around them, the allium make people look twice. “What are those spiky hedgehog plants in the garden?”

And as they fade the stalks become sculptures, to leave in the garden, to move elsewhere, or to play with. Plants just want to have fun.

I bought my Allium schubertii from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs.  They have a great selection of other Allium and all other fall-planted bulbs.


  1. Buffy Alten

    I love them! What do you have planted under them?

    • CL Fornari

      Thanks, Buffy! This year I planted Dicondra ‘Silver Falls’ and blue Scaevola under them and I’ll leave them for awhile to enjoy their “fun factor.” Some people take the dried tops and spray paint them, placing them around the garden, in containers or even on Christmas trees. Others tie them on ribbons and hang them from the ceiling for parties and events.

  2. Karen

    Alliums are the funnest things ever. I have always enjoyed the enitire family, from a few inches to a few feet. Enjoyed your post.

  3. Desiree

    Do these alliums emerge later in spring than other varieties? I planted a few and while my other alliums have sprouted, these have not. I will be very sad if none of them manage to grow.

    • CL Fornari

      In my garden these emerge slightly later. I don’t know where you garden, but this variety isn’t as hardy as some other alliums…


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