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Nodding Onion Allium cernuum

Phonetic Spelling
AL-ee-um SAIR-new-um
Description

Nodding Onion is a native perennial bulb in the lily family that is found in open woodlands around shale outcrops in the low elevation mountains. It is drought-tolerant once established and easy to grow. The plant will grow 1-2 feet tall with long grass-like foliage. In June to Aug. the nodding clusters of pink flowers appear and are attractive to pollinators. It will spread by both bulb offsets and seeds but is easiest to propagate by dividing the bulblets. 

This plant was once used in culinary dishes but is mainly used for its flowers now. Grow in well-drained soils in full sun to partial shade. It can be used in a rock garden, cottage garden, mass planted or borders. It will also naturalize in a meadow or open woodland setting.

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

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Tags:
#pink flowers#mass planting#NC native#rock gardens#borders#edible#food source fall#cool season vegetable#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#native bulb#food source bulbs#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#FACU Piedmont Mountains#FACU Coastal#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#pink flowers#mass planting#NC native#rock gardens#borders#edible#food source fall#cool season vegetable#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#native bulb#food source bulbs#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#FACU Piedmont Mountains#FACU Coastal#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Allium
    Species:
    cernuum
    Family:
    Amaryllidaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Bulb
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    North America
    Distribution:
    AL , AR , AZ , CO , DC , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KY , MD , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , NE , NJ , NM , NY , OH , OR , PA , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , WA , WI , WV , WY
    Wildlife Value:
    Pollinators and songbirds are attracted to the plant.
    Edibility:
    The bulb is edible but is rarely used as better plants exist for this purpose.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 4 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Bulb
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Spherical crested fruits that split open to expel shiny black seeds. Fruit displays from August to October.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Umbel
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Flower Petals:
    6 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Pink, lavender or white bell-shaped fragrant flowers bloom from June to August in 1.5 to 2-inch clusters. Individual flowers are 1/4 inch wide with 6 tepals and yellow stamens.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Linear basal flat green leaves are up to 12 inches long and erect to arching. Margins are smooth, venation is parallel.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Light green to reddish-green smooth round stems
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Small Space
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Hummingbirds
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Drought
    Poor Soil