Red inside stems of alliums.

(Question)

Hello! I’m curious what the red is/means inside the stems of my Alliums. PH balance? I felt bad enough cutting them down! Then it looked like they were bleeding.

Thank you.

(Answer)

Allium is the botanical name given to a group of plants that contains onions, shallots, leeks, garlic and chives. It also contains many ornamental species which are grown for their striking globe shaped flower heads.  They thrive in full sun and prefer well drained soil. Their foliage dies back before the flowers bloom leaving a single stem with a flower on top. When the flower is spent there is no need to cut back. In fact leaving the flower head alone adds interest to the garden in late fall and into winter. The stems just pull away or fall down eventually.

Think of the stem of your allium as the transport route for water and nutrients moving from the bulb to its flower. Compare with the daffodil which releases a sticky sap from the stem when picked. This sap can prove to be an irritant to some humans but generally is not a problem.

If left undisturbed, alliums are relatively odorless in the garden. But step or crush them in any way and volatile sulfide compounds are released. The “oniony” smell and strong taste will make deer, rodents and insects give allium a wide berth in the garden.