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.
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.
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’
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
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