A magnet for butterflies and bees

Posted on Feb 28 2018 in Backyard

By B. Rosie Lerner

The Perennial Plant Association  selected its 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year: Allium “Millenium” (yes, that’s Millenium with just one “n”). This announcement continues to show the focus on pollinator habitat these days — Allium Millenium is appropriately referred to as a butterfly and bee magnet!

Millenium is a hybrid Allium selected for late flowering. It has masses of rose-purple blooms; a uniform habit; and neat, shiny, green foliage that remains attractive long after blooms have faded. It is also known for its resistance to drought.

The upright foliage clump of grass-like, glossy, deep-green leaves reaches 10-15 inches tall in spring. In midsummer, two or three flower stalks rise above the foliage, and each produces two or three showy globes of rose-purple florets that last as long as four weeks. They dry to a light tan, often holding a blush of their former rose-purple color.

Millenium is just about the perfect low-maintenance perennial for full sun. Once established, about the only maintenance it needs is cutting back foliage in late fall

after the plants fade. This plant is hardy to USDA zones 4-9 (possibly zone 3), which makes it a great choice throughout the Midwest. No serious pest problems have been reported, though leaf spot may occur in overcrowded growing conditions with decreased air circulation. Deer and rabbits appear to avoid browsing.

Gardeners sometimes avoid planting Alliums because of their unwanted reseeding behavior. Fortunately, Millenium produces 50 percent fewer seeds, which raises less concern for unwanted self-seeding.

Millenium has a clump habit with a fibrous root system, which makes it easy to propagate by division in either spring or fall.

The Perennial Plant Association selects a different perennial plant each year to promote throughout the nursery and gardening industry. PPA members nominate plants based on several criteria, including low maintenance needs, adapability to a wide range of climates, pest and disease resistance, wide availability, multiple seasons of interest, and ease of
propagation. A selection committee then arrows the field to three or four choices from which the members cast their votes.

For more info about the Perennial of the Year program, please go to www.perennialplant.org.

Rosie Lerner is the Purdue Extension consumer horticulturist and a consumer of Tipmont REMC. Have a question about gardening? Use the form to send it to us. Or, questions about gardening issues may be sent to: “Ask Rosie,” Electric Consumer, P.O. Box 24517, Indianapolis, IN 46224, or ec@ElectricConsumer.org.