I might have to spray-paint my Alliums

I’ve heard this from others about alliums aka ornamental onions – though the Virginia, USA, gardener responsible for these was mystified when I told her. Alliums can self-seed. In my sandy, part-sun and tiny back garden, Allium christophii, though lovely, can be a bit of a pest.

So I’m considering spray-painting them. The gardener did it to extend the impact of the globe flower forms after flowering. Cool idea. But I’m thinking it might also lock in the seeds to prevent allium over-population. At least in my garden. What do you think of it?

As always, clicking any image will give you a slideshow and sharper images. These are from the Garden Bloggers Fling 2017, in Washington, D.C. and nearby Virginia and Maryland, which wrapped up last Sunday. More USDA Zone 5/Canadian Zone 6 ideas from USDA Z6 and Z7 gardens to come. Stay tuned.


  1. I liked the spray painted allium. I know they aren’t to everyone’s taste, but, they were clever and fun. Will I spray? Maybe, but, first I have to convince alliums to grow in my garden!

    1. They wouldn’t always have to be painted in hot primaries. Maybe black, to make them look like cast iron? Or even sprayed with clear paint, just to hold them together and prevent or retard ripening. Anyway, I’ll be mulling this over.

  2. If I could grow big alliums like these I’d be happy even with a short season of flowering! Can’t grow them in Austin, so I’ll admire them in gardens elsewhere — spray-painted or not (though I prefer not).

    1. Having visited so many southern gardens in the past few years, full of things I can’t grow, I forget that there might be things that I can grow that southern gardeners can’t. Looking forward to seeing *your* southern garden next year, Pam!

  3. I do kind of like how these look, even though artificial. I’d say go for it, but thinking there are logistics to figure out to stop the spray going where you don’t want it.
    Sarah Raven in England regularly pulls hers and sprays them gold and silver for Christmas decorations, which I think is a great idea. That would ensure no self seeding.
    Maybe the spray would clump everything together and stop the seeds, but no guarantee they wouldn’t still seed about.

    1. It might slow them down, is my way of thinking, Sarah. I was considering the how-to, and my first thought is to create a mask of some sort, maybe out of a box or a cone of paper, that would limit the spread of the spray paint. TBD.

  4. HA! While visiting Grand Rapids OH last year, I saw some spray painted “alliums” – wadded up bits of chicken wire mounted on green rebar, painted every color of the rainbow. No worries about them spreading!

    1. I was talking to a friend last night who knows someone who sprays her alliums bronze. That’s a little more classical colour choice. Not sure hot pink is in my colour palette. Still mulling.

  5. You could always spray with a clear polyurethane to preserve a “natural” color.

    I wish I could spray paint my neighbor’s half-dead Eucalyptus trees. They’d look better.

    Hope you had a fabulous time at the Fling!

    1. The Fling is always fun – great gardens with good friends. I thought the same thing about the clear spray. Hope the Eucalyptus stays on your neighbour’s side of the fence!

  6. It is quite the fad to paint those allium seed heads. I did a garden tour in IL a couple of weeks ago and about every allium seed head was painted. I too wondered if it would prevent the alliums from reproducing. When I mentioned this to someone they looked at me like I was asking a senseless question and she proceeded to tell me those seed didn’t do anything. Hmmm I will see how this works this year in my garden.

    1. I had the same reaction from the gardener when I suggested that as a seed-control option. She commented, “They’d take four years to flower from seed.” To which I shrugged to say, “Well, yes. And after four years, you have a garden full of alliums…”

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