Mediterranean Bells Make Quite An Impression In The Garden

Mediterranean bells are also known as Allium nectaroscordum siculum or Sicilian honey garlic. It is native to the Mediterranean region, particularly found in Italy, Greece, and Turkey. This perennial plant is recognized for its striking appearance and unique characteristics. It typically grows to a height of around 3 feet and features large, bell-shaped flowers that hang in clusters atop tall stems. The flowers themselves are a beautiful combination of pinkish-purple hues with green stripes running along their petals. It typically blooms in late spring or early summer, adding a vibrant touch to gardens and landscapes.

Mediterranean bells have gained popularity among gardeners and horticulture enthusiasts due to their ornamental value and ability to attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. One interesting feature of this plant is its distinctive fragrance. When crushed or bruised, the leaves emit a strong garlic-like scent, which adds to its allure and makes it less attractive to browsing animals. The plant is considered to be deer-resistant, making it an ideal choice for gardens where deer browsing can be an issue.

The plant makes an impression in the garden because of its eye-catching addition to any garden or landscape setting with its elegant flowers and unique fragrance. Its Mediterranean origins contribute to its adaptability in various climates around the world, making it a sought-after choice for both amateur gardeners and professional landscapers alike.

Growing and Planting Tips

When To Plant – The ideal time to plant Mediterranean bells bulbs is in the fall season (hardiness zones 4-8). Planting should be done before the ground freezes but after the hot summer months have passed. This allows the bulbs to establish their root system before winter dormancy and ensures healthy growth in the following spring.  By planting them at the right time, you can enjoy their striking flowers and unique fragrance when they bloom in late spring or early summer. Allium are remarkably strong for their height, but if you live in an area with high winds, it is wise to stake individual flowers. Deadhead after flowering but leave the foliage to die right back.

Soil – To thrive, Mediterranean bells prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. It requires a soil pH range of 5.50 to 6.0, which is slightly acidic. This ensures that the nutrients necessary for its growth are readily available. This plant can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, including poor soils; however, it thrives best in fertile soils with good moisture retention capabilities. When planting these bulbs, it is recommended to incorporate well-rotted compost or aged manure into the planting area before placing them at a depth of approximately 3-5 inches. This will provide additional nutrients and improve overall soil structure.

Light – For best flowering, the plant needs to be in full sun. They can grow in partial shade, but it is best to give them as much sun as possible.

Water – Mediterranean bells prefer well-draining soil that allows excess water to escape easily. It is recommended to water the plant deeply but infrequently. This means providing a thorough soaking when the top inch of soil feels dry, allowing the water to penetrate deep into the root zone. During periods of active growth and blooming, which typically occur in late spring or early summer, the plant may require more frequent watering. However, it is still important to ensure that the soil has adequate drainage and doesn't become waterlogged. Do not water the plant after blooming as wet soil can rot the bulbs.

Temperature and Humidity – The hardiness zones for this allium is zones 4-8. There are no specific humidity requirements.

Fertilizer – If planted in rich, humas-heavy soil there is no need to fertilize the plant. Each spring, it is a good idea to add organic matter to the soil. If your soil is not the greatest you can use a balanced fertilizer when the plant is blooming, which helps replenish the energy to the bulb.

Dividing – Bulb forming alliums are slow to multiply.  It is best to leave the bulbs undisturbed. When the clumps become overcrowded you can dig them up and divide them in the spring.

Toxicity – This plant is toxic to cats and dogs.

Photo credit – Shutterstock

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