|Monday Melange: Lady’s Leek|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Monday, 07 May 2012|
Hardy between USDA plant zones 4 and 8, lady’s leek (Allium cernuum) is a relative of both the giant allium and those pesky Star of Bethlehem flowers that take over the lawn every spring. Although it is a native species--and a quite a lovely one at that--it can be noxious in certain parts of the country. Arkansas lists the genus Allium as a noxious weed; however, nodding or wild onion (A. cernuum) is listed as salvage restricted in Arizona and threatened in Iowa, Minnesota, and New York.
Also known as nodding or wild onion, Lady’s leek is a member of the Lily plant family (Liliaceae) and is a bulb. The flowers, which bloom during the summer between June and August, have pretty lilac-pink flowers that droop, hence the reference to “nodding” in the flower name. Lady’s leek is somewhat diminutive, generally growing to a height of 4 to 6 inches, but no more than 12 inches.
In the wild, Lady’s leek grows on rocky ledges and dry meadows, and as such is drought tolerant, preferring dry to medium soils and full sun. In hotter climates grow Lady’s leek in partial afternoon shade. The flowers are showy and will attract butterflies and the leaves are fragrant (similar to chives). It easily reseeds (deadhead if you don’t want it to), making it a nice option for naturalized meadows with rocky, gravely or dry soils, as well as alpine and rock gardens.
Photo source: www.northcreeknurseries.com