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Allium 'Millenium' Selected As 2018 Plant of the Year®

The Perennial Plant Association has awarded the title Perennial Plant of the Year® 2018 to Allium ‘Millenium’. This herbaceous perennial, relative to the common onion, is a workhorse of the late summer garden. Bred by Mark McDonough, horticulture researcher from Massachusetts, ‘Millenium’ was introduced through Plant Delights Nursery in 2000 where it has proven itself year after year earning rave reviews. ‘Millenium’ is spelled with one “n”, as registered, but is occasionally incorrectly listed with two “n”s. This cultivar is the result of a multigenerational breeding program involving Allium nutans and A. lusitanicum (formerly Allium senescens ssp montanum), selected for late flowering with masses of rose-purple blooms, uniform habit with neat shiny green foliage that remains attractive season long, and for its drought resistant constitution.Allium Millenium

The genus Allium contains more than 900 species in the northern hemisphere, but is perhaps best known for a dozen or so species of culinary vegetables and herbs: onion, garlic, leeks, shallots, scallions, and chives. The genus is also known for a few dozen ornamentals that grow from bulbs and sport tall stems with big globe-shaped blooms in spring. The vast majority of the genus is little known and absent from horticulture, yet possesses significant ornamental potential.

Allium ‘Millenium’ has numerous virtues to add to the landscape setting. Growing best in full sun, each plant typically produces an upright foliage clump of grass-like, glossy deep green leaves reaching 10-15” tall in spring. In midsummer, two to three flower scapes rise above the foliage with each scape producing two or three showy two-inch spherical umbels of rose-purple florets that last as long as four weeks. The flower umbels are completely round (spherical), not domed or hemispherical as they are in some Allium species. They dry to a light tan often holding a blush of their former rose-purple color. While other alliums can look scraggly in the heat of the summer, ‘Millenium’ does not let the heat bother it! Easily grown in zones 4-9 (possibly zone 3) makes it a great perennial in many areas of the country. In very hot summer climates it does appreciate afternoon shade.

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Reclaiming Boxwood from Boxwood Blight

Back in the late 2000s and early 2010s, before boxwood blight became a household name among nurseries, growers reported a slump in sales of boxwood and plentiful inventory. This was during the period where the great recession was in full swing and new housing construction was at low levels. Fast-forward a few years, and it’s a whole different story. Read More

Byline: Jill M. Calabro, Ph.D. is science and research programs director at the Horticultural Research Institute, the AmericanHort research and scholarship foundation. The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) has provided more than $7.5 million in funds to research projects covering a broad range of production, environmental, and business issues important to the green industry since 1962. Nearly $11 million is committed to the endowment by individuals, corporations, and associations. For more information about HRI, its grant-funded research, or programming, visit or call 614-884-1155. 

Boxwood Blight FAQ Sheet

This Boxwood Blight FAQ fact sheet was compiled in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.   Additional questions and answers may be added to this fact sheet as we continue to address this issue in Illinois and more information becomes available. Boxwood Blight FAQ

IL Department of Ag Formally Declares Boxwood Blight a Nuisance 

After a public hearing at the Illinois Department of Agriculture on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 Illinois Director of Agriculture Raymond Poe yesterday signed a declaration to affirm Boxwood Blight a nuisance in Illinois.  "Now that Boxwood Blight is a known nuisance in Illinois, we can begin the eradication process and keep it from spreading," said Director Poe. "The Illinois Green Industry Association, along with the affected nurseries, have been very cooperative and we look forward to working with them to contain this disease."

IGIA President Mark McWilliams of CopperTree Outdoor Lifestyles and IGIA Executive Director Joe Khayyat attended last week’s hearing, as did a handful of association members.  McWilliams testified in support of the Department of Agriculture’s proposal to declare boxwood blight as a nuisance in Illinois.   McWilliams pointed out this is a sound strategy based on science and that “it is not an over-reaction or over-reach by regulators.” In addition to expressing industry support for their proposed declaration, McWilliams used his testimony to thank the IDOA for maintaining an open line of communication on this and many other issues or challenges facing our industry.  He also commended the few IGIA members already affected by boxwood blight for being totally cooperative with the Department’s inspection efforts and supportive of the strategies employed and control measures that have been implemented.  “Our members have handled this professionally and admirably, ensuring that the interests of the state’s entire green industry as well as Illinois’ landscape comes first, even at a significant cost – potentially a very real expense – to their own companies,” McWilliams said.  “I thank them for their unselfish approach and for being good stewards of Illinois’ natural and horticultural resources.”

Boxwood Blight Pest Alert (pdf)

The Box Blight Pathogen (pdf)

Boxwood Blight Best Management Practices