Alliums are a genus of perennial plants with more than a thousand species and varietals. Included are the most commonly known onions, leeks, chives, shallots and garlic. Alliums, related to lilies, are flowering plants grown from bulbs. Both the bulb and flower can be dried. The bulbs are dried for human consumption and the blooms for decorative use or seed capture. The drying process can easily be carried out at home with just a few inexpensive household items.
Create a drying area in a cool, dry, low light space with good ventilation such as a pantry, spare room, closet or attic. Run a taut drying line of rope, twine or wire from one side of the space to the other, tying off on nails in the wall or other sturdy room features.
Pull Allium bulbs from the ground when mature in the late summer or fall. Leave the green or brown plant tops in place. Put a rubber band snugly around two to three Allium bulbs at least 4 inches up from the crown. Hook a half unfolded paperclip through the rubber band and the other half hook over your drying line. Leaving some air space between the bunches. Bulbs can be eaten immediately and will last up to a year, depending on the varietal and surrounding conditions.
Harvest Allium flowers on long stems when they are at the peak of maturity and beauty. Cut at the base of the stem. Pull off any leaves or excess foliage. Group the stems into small bunches and fasten them together snugly near the cut end of the stem with a rubber band.
Unfold a paperclip and hook one end under the rubber band and the other end hook over the drying line. Leave the Alliums undisturbed for three to six weeks to dry completely. Carefully cut off the rubber band or simply cut off the bound ends with sharp scissors.