Late Bloomer

Do you know this little onion?


Allium thumbergii

Commonly called Japanese onion, Allium thumbergii is the latest of all ornamental onions to flower.  Loose, mop-like heads atop thin scapes feature tiny, cup-shaped blooms, each with six tepals and elongated stamens.

The species grows 18 to 24-inches tall, but look for the compact Ozawa, which is more floriferous and has larger flower heads.  A white-flowered form known as ‘Alba’ is equally stunning.


Allium thumbergii ‘Alba’

Native to Asia, where it grows along woodland margins, Japanese onion is easy to grow in full sun to part shade.  Choose areas with well-drained, average soils, taking care to avoid damp conditions.

18 thoughts on “Late Bloomer

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Christina–I like Alba best too…but then, as a gardener with all shade, I’m a big fan of white flowers in general. Alba looks perkier because its photograph was taken about 12 days before the pic of the purple bloom, but in reality, they bloomed roughly at the same time.

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Chloris–To answer with certainty, I checked two SC invasive plant species lists and didn’t find it on either list. My friend who grows the bulbs has had both for a couple years and says they are bulking up slowly.

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Susie–In general, the giant alliums like lighter soils than our clay. I’ve heard the drumstick type (Allium sphaerocephalon) is a better choice for the Upstate…, maybe you too.


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