Yellow Flowering Onion, Alium moly luteum

One of my favourite spring ephemerals is the lesser-known Yellow Flowering Onion. It’s native to southern Europe (Mediterranean), but it’s a tough little bulb that rates at zone 3. It also grows well here, in the Pacific Northwest.

Allium luteum moly, Allium moly luteum, golden garlic, lily leek, yellow flowering onion, Allium obliquum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

The strappy leaves appear in spring. They look quite a bit like bluebell leaves but have a faint oniony odour if bruised. (Ditto for the bulb). Once the flower buds come out, it’s easy to see the difference.

Bluebells flower here in May and finish up before Golden Garlic blooms emerge in June.

Allium luteum moly, Allium moly luteum, golden garlic, lily leek, yellow flowering onion, Allium obliquum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

Alium moly luteum blooms as an umbel of flowers at the top of the stem, similar to other onions. It typically reaches mid-calf rather than knee or thigh height of the large purple alliums.

At first, I figured the short Allium moly luteum was best at the front of the border. Unfortunately, the foliage dies back shortly after the bloom does. As it’s declining, the leaf is still feeding the bulb for next year’s flower production. It’s better to let that foliage fade naturally. But that looks pretty sad.

Allium luteum moly, Allium moly luteum, golden garlic, lily leek, yellow flowering onion, Allium obliquum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

These days, I’m shifting some bulbs further into the border & mixing with asters. The hope is the emerging aster foliage catches attention as the allium fades. If it works out, it’ll mean we get 2 seasons of bloom from relatively the same location.

Here are a few other reasons why Lily Leek is a keeper:

  • Our neighbourhood deer have never touched it. (I guess Bambi doesn’t want onion breath.)
  • The bulbs survive our incredibly arid summers & very wet winters.
  • It seems just as happy in dappled, dry shade as in full sun.
  • It’s basically NO maintenance, if situated somewhere that other plants distract from the onion’s fading foliage.
  • Allium moly luteum looks lovely blooming alongside red hot pokers, California lilac, foxglove & peony (other drought-tolerant & deer-reistant plants).
Allium luteum moly, Allium moly luteum, golden garlic, lily leek, yellow flowering onion, Allium obliquum, garden Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC, Pacific Northwest
photo by SVSeekins

With that much going for it, Golden Galic is assured of its space in our garden.

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Othe Allium on my Keeper list::