Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Mediterranean Bells, Sicilian Honey Lily, Ornamental Onion, Sicilian Garlic
Nectaroscordum siculum

Family: Alliaceae
Genus: Nectaroscordum (nek-tar-oh-SKOR-dum) (Info)
Species: siculum (SIK-yoo-lum) (Info)

Synonym:Allium siculum
Synonym:Allium dioscoridis
Synonym:Nectaroscordum bulgaricum
Synonym:Nectaroscordum siculum subsp. bulgaricum
Synonym:Allium bulgaricum

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

34 members have or want this plant for trade.


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Pale Pink

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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10 positives
7 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive portuguese_kate On May 17, 2014, portuguese_kate from Monte Redondo
Portugal (Zone 10a) wrote:

Nectaroscordum siculum grew brilliantly for me in Norwich, UK but here in coastal central Portugal it does not seem to "self seed" so my husband harvested the seeds which have successfully germinated.
We're hopeful for successful planting out but May here has turned out to be much hotter than usual so he's "potting them on" as I type.

Any further advice would be appreciated - our soil is extremely well-drained but we do have an automated drip feed watering system.

Neutral hikerpat On Jan 13, 2014, hikerpat from Knoxville, TN wrote:

I found this unusual plant growing in one of the many gardens at Biltmore, in Asheville NC, in May 2013. I would have attached a pic, but there is no link here to do that.

Positive margieswingle On May 27, 2013, margieswingle from Overlea, MD wrote:

Planted this bulb 2 years ago and it finally came up this year with beautiful bells, & very long stem. It grows fine in my shady Maryland garden. The hummingbird loves this plant and has been taking some long drinks.

Positive tabasco On May 26, 2013, tabasco from Cincinnati (Anderson Twp), OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

My Mediterranean Bells came from VanEngelen's Bulbs a few years ago. They are rather delicate in stature, not as tall and stately as the internet pictures might make you think they are. I like them because they are deer and rabbit resistant, most probably because of the garlic smell and taste.

They bloom with tall bearded iris, peonies, aquilegias and hardy geraniums. I have mine paired with a wine colored iris and a pretty wine colored aquilegia near a Japanese maple. I think they would be attractive paired with stachys or some smaller succulents.

Positive ridoodles On Jul 19, 2012, ridoodles from Warwick, RI (Zone 6b) wrote:

Nectaroscordum Siculum is growing in our front garden. I only have one and forget about it until it starts shooting its way out of the ground and showing its unusual umbrella like formed flower with seperate small bell shape small blooms, It is so unusual, and am so thankful I was able to finally identify this. It is 3 yrs old and has survived our cold RI climate. I read it needs well drained soil. It is a tower of a plant, tall ,stands about 36" or more. I would love to have more as it gives an early season mid May bloom which is most welcome to see in New England after our long winters.

Positive petalpushergirl On Jun 11, 2011, petalpushergirl from Bellefontaine, OH wrote:

I could not remember planting this lovely flower and when it would come up and bloom in the early part of June here in Ohio, none of my garden friends could identify it.
I finally found it in a gardening magazine and came here to read comments about it. Mine has never expanded in any way and has just stayed one shoot.
I have it in the front of the border of my cottage garden in full to part sun in well drained soil. I am going to dig up the bulb this fall and see if it has any babies attatched. I am in zone 5.

Positive MagicalGarden On Jun 1, 2011, MagicalGarden from Bellevue, NE wrote:

These are not exceptionally pretty flowers/plants - but they are very unusual in appearance and scent. They definitely have an onion smell, but it is not overwhelming or unpleasant. The color is not intense, but they do grow quite tall (mine are at least 30-36" tall) and I have had no problem with them coming back year after year. The bulbs do multiply and so I would also agree that they should be periodically thinned in order for the plants to have plenty of room to grow. I love them!!

Neutral dreamgreen On Oct 20, 2010, dreamgreen from Weaverville, NC wrote:

According to a post at Rob's Plants the leaves of the honey lily are apparantly dried and used as seasoning in Bulgaria.
Directions say cut only the thickest and plumpest leaves. Mix leaves with salt in equal proportions and grind. Then dry mixture in a shady place. The dried mix is good sprinkled on fresh tomatoes or cucumbers. It's also a good addition to baked potatoes. The bulbs of the plant are not used.

Positive weedsfree On Jul 7, 2010, weedsfree from Magna, UT (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have had mine for 4 years. The first year, they did need staking, but with each year, perhaps because of multiplication, they are self supporting. Mine are barely planted 3 or 4 inches deep and get at least the 36" in height. Orioles have enjoyed them this year. They only have that strong onion smell when disturbed in any way. Even if you brush against the leaves. Mine bloom for 2-3 weeks.

Positive Kizmo On May 23, 2010, Kizmo from Marietta, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

This was more of a mystery, than anything! I moved to Marietta OH over 2 yrs ago, planted Silver Mound (Artesima) in a small bed by the driveway. Lo and Behold, this year (2010), this plant popped up and had an odd bud, looked like a bunch of marbles in the casing, with leaves like a lily.. Since I am the only one that plants anything at our house, it was a complete surprise. The bloom is roughly 18" tall, and about 6" across as it stands. The little cup-like blooms are about 3/4" long, pink and almond colored. Of course, I had to bend them up to get a good look at them.
Fortunately, the gracious DGers here ID'd it for me, and hopefully it continues to come up every year!

Neutral plantladylin On May 4, 2010, plantladylin from South Daytona, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I planted these in a flower bed, they sprouted quickly, bloomed for about three days and then began wilting back. Mine didn't get anywhere near the 36"- 48" stated in the description, but rather about 10" tall at the most! The blooms are pretty, but they aren't too visible because the plants are so low to the ground. I guess the critters walking around the backyard can view them, but for a human you'd have to lie down on the ground to look up at the cute little droopy blooms.

Positive GardeningAngel7 On Jul 23, 2009, GardeningAngel7 from Waldoboro, ME wrote:

I'm still not sure of the correct name of this plant. So far I have Mediterranean Bells, Sicilian Honey Lily, Ornamental Onion, Sicilian Garlic. At any rate, I like the plant. Originally, I thought I was buying regular lily bulbs so I planted them last Fall and up came this plant. It is already going by now. I would like to know, though, if it is just a flowering plant or can you harvest the bulb to use for cooking? If anyone knows the answer to this, please let me know. In the meantime, I will just leave the plant alone. Also, does it spread?

Thanks for your input.

Neutral vossner On Jun 5, 2008, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I planted 3 bulbs as an experiment and they grew. however, I don't like it because it flops. I won't yank it out, but it won't receive much TLC from this gardener.

Neutral sallyg On Jun 13, 2007, sallyg from Anne Arundel,, MD (Zone 7b) wrote:

My first year for these. Interesting twisty three sided foliage in early spring. Flowers were not showy to me, I would never have noticed them if I didn't know to look. Did not notice any strong smell.

Neutral LimeyLisa On Jun 11, 2005, LimeyLisa from Princeton, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

I had a hard time finding this plant as it was a gift and I was told that the common name was Mediterranean Bells. It grew well in may garden considering that it was dug up and brought to me in late April when it was already sending up stalks! I didn't care for the smell. Hope that it comes back next year with a bit more impressive display of flowers.

LimeyLisa Kay

Positive lupinelover On May 9, 2002, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Dry flower stalks work well for plant stakes. They are as sturdy as bamboo.

Bulbs produce many offsets, so thinning should be done on a regular basis to ensure a good flower production.

Neutral Baa On Sep 1, 2001, Baa wrote:

Robust, bulbous perennial from Italy and France.

Has linear basal leaves up to 16 inches long.

Tall strong stems bear umbels of 10-30 pendulous, bell-shaped, cream flushed pink flowers. Seed heads become star shaped as flowers die and the individual pods look like pale brown arrows.

Flowers April-June.

Grows in well drained soil but doesn't like much competition. Prefers full sun but will take partial shade. May self seed freely. Great in dry, light woodland or wild flower gardens.

Plant away from house as the garlic smell can be strong in warm weather.

No problems with pests and diseases.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Berkeley, California
Oak View, California
Andover, Connecticut
Sherman, Connecticut
Daytona Beach, Florida
Yulee, Florida
Cordele, Georgia
Lithonia, Georgia
Cherry Valley, Illinois
Divernon, Illinois
Plainfield, Illinois
Princeton, Illinois
Barbourville, Kentucky
Hebron, Kentucky
Owensboro, Kentucky
Skowhegan, Maine
Waldoboro, Maine
Nottingham, Maryland
Pikesville, Maryland
Beverly, Massachusetts
Billerica, Massachusetts
Hinsdale, Massachusetts
Blissfield, Michigan
Ludington, Michigan
Bellevue, Nebraska
Munsonville, New Hampshire
Denville, New Jersey
Jamesburg, New Jersey
Binghamton, New York
Broadalbin, New York
Glen Cove, New York
Panama, New York
Southold, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Pembina, North Dakota
Cincinnati, Ohio (2 reports)
Dayton, Ohio
Grove City, Ohio
Marietta, Ohio
Sallisaw, Oklahoma
Lebanon, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Lansdowne, Pennsylvania
Osceola, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Warwick, Rhode Island
North Augusta, South Carolina
Knoxville, Tennessee
Fort Worth, Texas
Richmond, Texas
Magna, Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
Castleton, Vermont
Blacksburg, Virginia
Artondale, Washington
Kalama, Washington
Port Townsend, Washington
Seattle, Washington

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