Allium karataviense ‘Ivory Queen’

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Robert Pavlis

Allium karataviense ‘Ivory Queen’ :photo by Robert Pavlis
Allium karataviense ‘Ivory Queen’: photo by Robert Pavlis

Allium karataviense ‘Ivory Queen’ is a very unusual onion. The leaves are extra wide, grow close to the ground and cup a large head of white flowers. Even in flower, the plant is only about 8 inches tall. Common names include kara tau garlic and Turkistan onion.

Allium karataviense ‘Ivory Queen’ :photo by Robert Pavlis
Allium karataviense ‘Ivory Queen’: photo by Robert Pavlis

The species has pink flowers while the cultivar ‘Ivory Queen’ is white.  This plant has been in horticulture for a very long time, and I suspect any white flowering form is now called Ivory Queen. After flowering, the leaves slowly wilt and by midsummer the plant goes under ground, to appear again in spring.

Allium karataviense ‘Ivory Queen’ :photo by Robert Pavlis
Allium karataviense ‘Ivory Queen’: photo by Robert Pavlis

Pollinators love the flowers and seed is easily produced. These will fall underneath the parent plant and produce grass-like seedlings. If you weed what you think is grass you’ll never have baby plants. Seedlings of Ivory Queen seem to come true and do not revert to the pink wild variety. It should flower from seed  in three years.

Allium karataviense ‘Ivory Queen’ :photo by Robert Pavlis
Allium karataviense ‘Ivory Queen’: photo by Robert Pavlis

Allium karataviense ‘Ivory Queen’

(AL-ee-um  kar-uh-taw-vee-EN-see)

Life Cycle: perennial bulb

Height: 20 cm (8 in)

Bloom Time: late spring

Natural Range: Central Asia, Karatau Mountians in Kazakhstan

Habitat: loose limestone scree

Synonyms: none

Cultivation of Allium karataviense ‘Ivory Queen’

Light: full sun

Soil: well drained, sandy

Water: moist while flowering and dry once underground

USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 – 8

Propagation: seed, bulb offsets

Other Great Alliums

Allium fistulosum

Allium fistulosum closeup bud
Allium fistulosum closeup bud

Allium moly  

Allium moly closeup
Allium moly closeup

Allium thunbergii ‘Ozawa’

Allium thunbergii Ozawa closeup
Allium thunbergii Ozawa closeup

 

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

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