Allium 'Millenium' named 2018 Perennial of the Year
The Perennial Plant Association has awarded the title Perennial Plant of the Year® 2018 to Allium ‘Millenium’. This herbaceous perennial, relative to the common onion, is a workhorse of the late summer garden. Bred by Mark McDonough, horticulture researcher from Massachusetts, ‘Millenium’ was introduced through Plant Delights Nursery in 2000 where it has proven itself year after year earning rave reviews. ‘Millenium’ is spelled with one “n”, as registered, but is occasionally incorrectly listed with two “n”s. This cultivar is the result of a multigenerational breeding program involving Allium nutans and A. lusitanicum (formerly Allium senescens ssp montanum), selected for late flowering with masses of rose-purple blooms, uniform habit with neat shiny green foliage that remains attractive season long, and for its drought resistant constitution.
The genus Allium contains more than 900 species in the northern hemisphere, but is perhaps best known for a dozen or so species of culinary vegetables and herbs: onion, garlic, leeks, shallots, scallions, and chives. The genus is also known for a few dozen ornamentals that grow from bulbs and sport tall stems with big globe-shaped blooms in spring. The vast majority of the genus is little known and absent from horticulture, yet possesses significant ornamental potential.
Allium ‘Millenium’ has numerous virtues to add to the landscape setting. Growing best in full sun, each plant typically produces an upright foliage clump of grass-like, glossy deep green leaves reaching 10-15” tall in spring. In midsummer, two to three flower scapes rise above the foliage with each scape producing two or three showy two-inch spherical umbels of rose-purple florets that last as long as four weeks. The flower umbels are completely round (spherical), not domed or hemispherical as they are in some Allium species. They dry to a light tan often holding a blush of their former rose-purple color. While other alliums can look scraggly in the heat of the summer, ‘Millenium’ does not let the heat bother it! Easily grown in zones 4-9 (possibly zone 3) makes it a great perennial in many areas of the country. In very hot summer climates it does appreciate afternoon shade.
No serious pest problems have been reported. Leaf spot may occur in overcrowded growing conditions. Deer and rabbits leave ‘Millenium’ alone. Alliums are sometimes avoided due to their reseeding behavior. Fortunately ‘Millenium’ exhibits 50% reduced seed production, raising less concern for self-sown seedlings.
Allium ‘Millenium’ has a fibrous root structure forming an ornamental herbaceous clump easily propagated by division. Once in the garden, ‘Millenium’ can easily be lifted and divided in either spring or fall. Cut back foliage in late fall.
Pollinators will flock to Allium ‘Millenium’! Butterflies and bees will thank you for adding ‘Millenium’ to your garden. Pair with shorter goldenrods (Solidago sp.) such as ‘Little Lemon’ that reaches one and a half feet tall. Goldenrods are late summer pollinator magnets that will offer beautiful contrasting golden yellow blooms. Another late summer re-blooming companion perennial to consider is Oenothera fremontii ‘Shimmer’ with its low-growing silvery foliage adorned daily with large yellow flowers that open late afternoon and fade to an apricot color by morning. Being tap-rooted this evening primrose is well behaved, not creeping through the garden, for which, rhizomatous spreading evening primroses are famously known. Allium ‘Millenium’ looks great backed with the silver foliage of Perovskia atriplicifolia, Russian sage, or the native Scutellaria incana, downy skullcap, with its numerous spikes of blue flowers above trim green foliage. Or simply plant ‘Millenium’ en masse and enjoy the rose-purple display!
This low-maintenance dependable perennial will not disappoint! Blooming at a time when most of our garden begins to decline in the tired excess of the season, ‘Millenium’ offers much needed color. It is truly an all-season plant that offers attractive shiny foliage spring through summer and caps off the season with its crown of perfectly round rose-purple flower umbels!
USDA Zones 3 or 4 to 9
Allium ‘Millenium’ grows best in full sun. In very hot climates partial shade may be best.
Grows best in well-drained soils.
Allium ‘Millenium’ is a perfect selection for full-sun gardens where its sleek structure can complement many other growth habits. Cut flowers retain a blush of their summer color.
Allium ‘Millenium’ is a butterfly magnet. The plant is interesting through multiple seasons for both foliage and large, gorgeous blooms. Reseeding is much less a problem than in other alliums.
Allium ‘Millenium’ is subject to no serious insect or disease problems. Deer and rabbits usually avoid ‘Millenium’.
Martha A. Smith, Horticulture Educator, University of Illinois Extension
Mark McDonough, Plant breeder/horticulture researcher, Massachusetts
- Kristin Ego
Cacti and Succulents have definitely grown in popularity over the last decade. As more and more varieties become available they are increasingly in the spotlight. This is, of course, with good reason: not only are they easy to care for, but they can be showcased in so many ways!
Though often referred to as two distinct groups cacti actually belong to the succulent family. All cacti are succulents, yet cacti are a sub-species known by the presence of areoles (specialized sites where spines form) whereas other succulents have none.
The majority of cacti grow in deserts with low moisture, dry air, bright sunshine, good drainage and high temperatures. These desert-dwelling plants can survive for really long periods of time without rainfall. They get their moisture from dew or mist and store nutrients and moisture in their tissues.
The word “succulent” means “juicy.” Succulent plants have leaves or stems that are filled with juices, which is the stored water and nutrients that allow the plant to grow. These leaves allow the plant to withstand harsh conditions. Normally, these leaves have a glossy or leathery appearance, this texture actually helps protect them from moisture loss. Many succulents are also found in desert like conditions; however there are succulents which grow naturally in rainforests (such as a Christmas Cactus). These require semi-shade and humid conditions.
Most succulents and cacti require a lot of light. They are suitable for the sunniest of spots in your home. Be sure to turn the plants regularly so all sides of the plant get equal exposure.
If it is the wonderfully unique flowers you are after it is best to buy cacti that are already in flower because it often takes years for them to bloom. Before you buy check the plants over and make sure they are sound with no trace of rot or areas that are shriveled or dry. They should be just the right size for their pot and you should make sure that they are not exposed to drafts when you get them home.
Ensure they are planted in cactus or succulent soil which allows for good drainage. In Spring and Summer they will require a good soak, then allowed to dry in between waterings. In winter months they should be allowed to go completely dry, especially if they are in cool conditions as this allows the plants to go dormant. Most cacti and succulents like temperatures of 50-55F (10-13 C) in the winter.
During periods of active growth, cacti and succulents should be fed about once every three weeks. They should only be repotted once the roots completely fill their pot.
Cacti and succulents make great gifts, they are good for beginners or even the master gardener.
With all of the unique ways they can be planted, they are often used in home décor, and are great to give as a housewarming gift. Growing cacti and other succulent plants can be an addictive pastime, and many of the more difficult to grow varieties are considered a collectible.
Now is a great time to add a cacti or succulent plants to your home! With so many easy to care for varieties it is a great place for a novice to start and still great fun for the experienced indoor gardener.
Celebrate Canada 150!
In 2017, Canada will be celebrating 150 years since Confederation!
The time is now to start planning for a fantastic red and white flower show starting in spring 2017.
To help commemorate this momentous occasion, Ego’s Nurseries donated 500 Canadian Celebration tulips in the area at community gardens and parks for planting in fall of 2016. We are looking forward to seeing them bloom this spring!
For Spring 2017, additional bulbs will be available in a red and white theme… Dahlias, Gladiolas and soon much more.