John Scheepers2020

In Focus: Allium aflatunense Purple Sensation
Allium aflatunense Purple Sensation is one of the best deals on the planet. First: It is deer- and rodent-resistant. Second: It is a really good perennial, even a good naturalizer. Third: Its showy flowers bloom in the garden’s in-between time~after the Narcissi and Tulips, and before summer annuals and perennials burst into bloom. Fourth: Bees adore them. Fifth: They are amazingly long-lasting~so very beautiful before they bloom, while they’re blooming and after they bloom. Sixth: It is a fabulous cut flower. Seventh: They’re incredibly affordable: 25 for $14.25, 50 for $26.25, 100 for $43.50 and 200 for just $83.25! For us, it is a must-plant in virtually every garden.

One of our Top Ten Must-Plants
We’re serious. If you were to ask us what are the top ten flower bulbs to plant in every garden, Allium aflatunense Purple Sensation would be on that list.

Allium aflatunense Purple Sensation is a selection out of the species Allium aflatunense that dates back to 1902 from the area of central China and Iran. Purple Sensation has 4″ to 5″ composite globes comprised of densely compacted, star-shaped, deep violet-purple florets. Growing from 24″ to 30″ tall, it is the first of the big purple Allium globes to flower at the most perfect time in the garden. Blooming in May/June in horticultural zone 5, this spectacular variety is hardy from horticultural zones 4 through 8.

Interested in yet more Allium? We have the largest collection available in the U.S. with heirlooms like Allium atropurpureum, azureum, christophii, nigrum, schubertii and sphaerocephalon. We have huge purple globe-shaped varieties like Allium Ambassador, Gladiator, Globemaster and Pinball Wizard, and white globe-shaped varieties like Allium stipitatum Mount Everest and White Giant. We have strange variety like Allium Hair. This is but a sampling.

Easy to Plant
Allium aflatunense Purple Sensation bulbs should be planted in the fall after the soil has cooled down to around 55°F (after two weeks of sweater weather when night time temps have hovered in the 40s). The bulbs should be planted about 6″ to 8″ deep and about 8″ apart. They prefer neutral pH, well-draining soil with a minimum of six hours of daily sunlight. Its low-growing foliage browns out before the flowers bloom, so give some thought as to what can be positioned in front of it if your clients prefer more pristine foliage. Allow the foliage to thrive and die back naturally for the longest period of photosynthesis to feed the bulb for future year’s of growth. Top dress the planting site three times a year with a 4-10-6 or 5-10-5 granular, organic flower bulb fertilizer: at fall planting time, spring sprouting time and when the flower starts to die back.

Purple Sensation Allium

This is the Allium that started it all–the really beautiful tall relative of onions, leeks, and chives that has now taken its place in flower gardens. The flower head consists of over 100 little star-shaped blooms arranged in an amazing globular starburst. Planted close together for a group effect, these bulbs add lovely lavender color plus the interest of the fascinating globe-shaped blooms atop strong stems. They’ve become many gardeners’ favorites.

About the Alliums. Every family has its beauties. And yes, these are the best-looking members of the family of Allium, which includes onions, leeks and chives. (The word, Allium, means ‘onion’ in Latin.) Many Allium species are native to Iran, where many tulips also originate, and the edible Alliums have been cultivated and a staple of diets for over 10,000 years.

The beauty of the small lavender flowerheads of chives have always been a decorative highlight in herb gardens. But in recent years, gardeners have become fascinated with the larger Alliums, particular the giants. As always, the Dutch hybridizers took them into their stocks, and now we have a whole group of beautiful new flowering onions for gardens. Most bloom in late spring so they bridge the gap nicely between the tulip season and early summer bloom of peonies and poppies.

Experienced gardeners plant these giant Alliums in groups of several bulbs, set very close together. The foliage is not attractive for long, so it’s important to plant them next to other perennials whose foliage will more or less cover the Allium’s base. This way, the wonderful flower stalks rise up and tower over the other flowers for a wonderful period of bloom.

More Information



Common Name

Flowering Onion Purple Sensation

Botanical Name

Allium aflatunense Purple Sensation


2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Light Requirements

Full Sun, Half Sun / Half Shade

Flower Color


Flower Size

4-6″ flowers

Mature Height

28-32″ tall

Bulb Spacing

9 bulbs per sq. ft.

Bulb Size

12 cm

Planting Depth

Plant 5″ deep

Bloom Time

Late spring to early summer


Easy To Grow, Attract Butterflies, Bee Friendly, Deer Resistant, Squirrel Resistant, Fragrant Flower / Foliage, Good For Cut Flowers, Good For Dried Flowers

Additional Information

Heirloom Bulb

Soil Type

Loamy Soil

Soil Moisture

Average, Well Draining

Item Package Size

Bag of 10

Ships As

Bulb, Rhizome, Tuber

Planting Time


Ideal Region

Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, West, Southwest, Pacific Northwest

Prohibited In


Poisonous or Toxic to Animals

Toxic to dog and cats.

Ships to Hawaii, Alaska & Canada


This stunning fashionable plant, with large globes of rosy-purple crowded spherical umbels, Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ is a darker, richer purple than the mauve of its parent. They are popular in both architectural and formal planting plus the long lasting flowers are ideal for cutting.
Held aloft and rising up to 3ft or so before they break, the buds are like a conurbation of Turkish domes. The dense, rich-purple globes appear in early summer held high on erect stems above strap-like, mid green leaves, they never need staking. Extremely easy to grow, the seedlings have a lust for life and only take three years to flower.
Alliums look spectacular grouped in a pot, or in a sunny border, dotted in groups among ornamental grasses, or as part of a Mediterranean scheme. The plants can be allowed to self-seed to make impressive clumps. Plant en masse to be sure to have cut flowers, they flower earlier in full sun an a little later in shade. The flower stalks dry well and can be used in arrangements or they can be left outside to provide winter interest as they look good covered in frost.
The flowers last a long time and help fill that awkward gap between the later spring bulbs and the perennials. By the time the papery tunic on the alliums has broken, the garden is in full swing and caught between spring and summer

  • Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
    Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
    The RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee described ‘Purple Sensation’ as: “A bulbous herbaceous perennial to 90cm, with short basal leaves dying down by flowering time. Flowers small, vivid rosy-purple, in crowded spherical umbels. Attractive seed heads.”

Sowing: Sow at any time of year.
The seeds can be sown directly where they are to flower at any time of year, or can be sown indoors, the seedlings over wintered in the greenhouse and then planted out in the following spring.
Allium seeds need a period of moisture and cold after harvest before they will germinate, usually this is necessary to either allow the embryo to mature or to break dormancy.
If sown indoors in warmer weather, the period of dormancy can be artificially stimulated by placing the moistened seed in a refrigerator. It is best to sow them on moistened, well draining compost, seal the container in a polythene bag and leave everything in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 weeks at around 4 to 5°C (39 to 41°F). The seeds must be moist whilst being pre-chilled, but it doesn’t usually benefit them to be actually in water or at temperatures below freezing. After prechilling bring out of the fridge to 13 to 16°F (55 to 60°F)
Light seems to be beneficial and so pre-chilled seeds should have only the lightest covering of compost over them, and the seed trays etc. should be in the light. Compost should be kept moist but not wet at all times. Germination should occur 18 to 21 days.
Prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays to grow on. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out.

Plant out in spring into fertile, well drained soil. Add grit when grown in clay soils to improve drainage. Remember that the foliage dies back as flowering commences; you may wish to place this behind a smaller plant to disguise its foliage. When planting try to plant in groups of at least 3 or 5 as they do look much better in clumps.
Prepare the soil prior to planting by cultivating up to 30cm of soil, on heavier soils add a couple of handfuls of grit under each Allium before planting to improve drainage. Alliums grow well in most soil types but do prefer to be planted in well-drained sunny spots. The bulbs of Alliums vary tremendously in size so the best advice on planting depth is to plant Allium bulbs at a depth of three to four time their depth in the soil. On light soils, increase the planting depths to help anchor the taller varieties. The soil around Alliums should be kept moist during the flowering period.
Alliums can also be used for naturalising in grassland or similar areas, however please note that as they do not flower until late (May-June) you will not be able to cut the grass until they die back in July.

Alliums in pots:
To plant in pots ensure you have a sturdy deep container (the height and weight of the taller alliums will cause smaller containers to topple over), put crocks in the bottom to allow for drainage and then add about 10cms of potting compost. Place the Allium bulbs on top of the compost so that they are not touching the outside pot or each other. Cover with at least 20cms of potting compost and firm down. During the winter months ensure the compost is kept moist but not too wet and protect from frost. When you see the first signs of growth in the spring (March-April) increasing the amount of water to ensure the compost does not dry out.

Plant Uses:
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds, Gravel Garden or Rock Garden.

Over wintering:
Alliums can be left undisturbed from year to year and as long as they are well fed will continue to flower. If you do need to lift them wait until the flower stems and leaves have turned brown and break off when touched. The bulbs can then be dug up (around July) and their offsets removed. After they have been cleaned of soil, leave in a cool light place until they can be planted again in September. Only replant bulbs that look healthy and of a good size.

Pest deterrents:
All members of the Allium family are disliked by many insects and animals. They can be used to protect valuable planting areas against mice, moles, slugs and snails, Even dogs take no interest in the flower beds that they inhabit.

Allium hollandicum is a species native to Iran, synonym Allium aflatunense.
Undoubtedly the process of growing, selecting, hybridising and multiplying bulbs in horticulture may well have led to considerable deviation from the original description of this plant in 1904. Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ is a deep coloured strain believed to originate in 1963 from a selection by J. Bijl.
There are estimated to be around 700 species within the genus, and many cultivars. There are perennials and biennials, ranging in height from 10cm to 15 metres (4in to 5ft) or more. They are mainly from dry and mountainous areas, all from the Northern Hemisphere, and they have adapted to live in almost every plant habitat on the planet, from ice cold tundra to burning, arid deserts.
They were prized by the ancients as possessing medical and aphrodisiac qualities as well as flavour. The Romans are sometimes held responsible for their wide distribution by taking them wherever they went.

Allium hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’ is one of many hybrid Alliums developed by Jan Bijl in Holland (the magnificent ‘Globemaster’ perhaps his most fantastic hybrid).
Purple Sensation is a deep coloured strain believed to originate in 1963, it is often incorrectly called Allium aflatunense ‘Purple Sensation’ or described as a garden hybrid from Holland named Allium ×hollandicum ‘Purple Sensation’.

Allium, Ornamental Onion, Ornamental Allium ‘Purple Sensation’

View this plant in a garden




Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun





Foliage Color:



24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Color:


Medium Purple

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown – Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Unknown – Tell us

Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

San Leandro, California

Aurora, Colorado

Wolcott, Colorado

New Milford, Connecticut

Buford, Georgia

Cumming, Georgia

Lawrenceville, Georgia

Algonquin, Illinois

Rock Falls, Illinois

Saint Charles, Illinois

Macy, Indiana

Petersburg, Indiana

Olathe, Kansas

Barbourville, Kentucky

Ewing, Kentucky

Hebron, Kentucky

Mount Sterling, Kentucky

Durham, Maine

Freedom, Maine

Ellicott City, Maryland

West Friendship, Maryland

Peabody, Massachusetts

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Winchester, Massachusetts

Grant, Michigan

Mason, Michigan

Royal Oak, Michigan

Albertville, Minnesota

Florence, Mississippi

South Plainfield, New Jersey

Whitehouse Station, New Jersey

Los Alamos, New Mexico

Roswell, New Mexico

Clinton Corners, New York

Pittsford, New York

Fargo, North Dakota

Cleveland, Ohio

Felicity, Ohio

Geneva, Ohio

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Conway, South Carolina

Knoxville, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Whitney, Texas

Castlewood, Virginia

Leesburg, Virginia

Petersburg, Virginia

Weber City, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

North Bend, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

Cody, Wyoming

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