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Tulbaghia violacea

Family: Alliaceae (Onion family)

Common names: Wild Garlic (E); Isihaqa (Z); Wildeknoffel (A);

Native to: Africa
Bulb, Groundcover, Perennial
A low-maintenance aromatic bulb which grows in a clump and bears pretty mauve flowers.

Tulbaghia violacea

EVERGREEN

FULL SUN

SEMI-SHADE

FROST HARDY

LOW WATER REQUIREMENTS

MEDIUM WATER REQUIREMENTS

FAST GROWER

ATTRACTS INSECTS

FLOWER COLOUR:

AVERAGE SIZE:

0.3m x 0.25m
FLOWERING TIME:
J F M A M J J A S O N D
FRUITING TIME:
J F M A M J J A S O N D

Tulbaghia violacea

DESCRIPTION

A tuft-forming bulbous plant with strap-like grey-green leaves that are strongly garlic scented when bruised.   Rounded heads of lilac-pink flowers are borne on long stalks throughout summer.

This plant is very hardy and can withstand drought, heat and bitter cold, making it a wonderful subject for a low-maintenance garden.

NATURAL HABITAT & DISTRIBUTION
Rocky slopes and cliffs in grassland and near rivers.
WILDLIFE & ECOLOGICAL BENEFITS
Attracts butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects.
Discourages snakes as they dislike the smell.
WATER REQUIREMENTS
Water moderately.
MAINTENANCE
Low-maintenance.
The plants grow better when the clumps remain undisturbed.
Replenish the compost and mulch annually to encourage prolific flowering.
After about 10 years, the clumps may become messy and can be split.
LANDSCAPING USES
Plant in small groups in a rockery.
Use it as an edging plant along the front of a formal border or along a pathway.
Stunning, mass-planted to form a groundcover.
The smell can repel aphids, so it can be beneficial planted around a rose bed or vegetable garden.
GARDEN THEMES
Bushveld, Formal, Rockery, Water
FLOWERS
Small rounded heads of mauve flowers are displayed on long stalks (about 40cm tall) above the leaves.
FOLIAGE
Grey-green strap-shaped leaves form grow in clumps from the base.
FRUIT
The fruit is a green nutlet borne on the top of the flower stalk. It dries to brown and splits open to release the seeds.
PESTS & DISEASES
Seldom attacked by pests.
CULTIVATION
Propagate by dividing larger clumps or from seed. The hard black seeds are best sown in spring in seed trays. Seedlings can be planted out during their second year. Once the clumps that have been divided are planted, they should be left undisturbed for as long as possible. First flowering can generally be expected in the second or third year.

18 Responses

  1. Hi Linda

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Tulbaghia violacea is generally very hardy and can tolerate most conditions. We’ve even seen it growing successfully in an ecopool where it is permanently in water.

    The die-back of your plants could be a sign of stress which tends to happen when the clumps are become large and over-crowded. Perhaps this is a sign that your clumps are ready for some splitting. This would also be an opportune time to replenish the compost in your soil.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  2. Hi, I live in Somerset west and have had three thriving clumps of wild garlic. Recently I’ve noticed it seems to be dying back. New plants are emerging in the the die back area. Could this be due to the heavy rains from this past winter or could there be another cause?

    Regards,
    Linda

  3. Hi Keith

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Tulbaghia is not overly fussy about the timing for splitting, but I would recommend that after the peak flowering season. There’s a good window in autumn so that it has time to settle before the winter cold to ensure that you’ll get reasonable flowering next summer.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  4. I live in Jeffreys Bay and want to divide my wild garlic. When is the best time. Thanks.

  5. Hi Karin

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Yes, you can cut the leaves to half their size when splitting and transplanting Tulbaghia violacea.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  6. Hi, just wanted to say thank you very much for your great website – it is my go-to site since it has all the information I need concisely put together.
    Keep up the good work!

  7. Hi Charle

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Tulbaghia is generally fuss-free and it sounds like you’re doing all the right things.

    Apply an organic general purpose fertiliser to try to encourage flowering.

    You could also experiment with your watering routine. Very often over-watering promotes a healthy plant but prevent plants from flowering.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  8. Hello! I have a lovely row of Tulbaghia plants, but they haven’t flowered in 2 years. Any advice to get them to flower? We compost at least once per year, did it a few months ago just before spring. They are well watered and in a sunny spot. The leaves /clumps are growing very well.

  9. Hi Ockert

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Tulbaghia is best grown from fresh seed which can germinate in 3-4 weeks, depending on the conditions. As it’s a clump-forming plant, there is no need to thin out the plants. They will be ready to lift and transplant after 18 months.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  10. Hi there I sowed seed from the tulbaghia and I want to plant them now. They are incredibly small – do you plant and then thin out when they start coming up? Any idea how long before the seeds germinate?

  11. Hi Colleen

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Yes, Tulbaghia can withstand strong wind. You may lose some of the flower stalks in severe conditions.

    Another groundcover to consider is Plectranthus neochilus which is low-growing and forms a dense clump.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  12. I live in Simonstown – that means that the wind blows from tolerable to gale force most of the time!
    Will Tulbaghia withstand this kind of wind abuse?

  13. Hi Liana

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Tulbaghia violacea can be planted out in the garden from seed trays when the leaves are 5-10cm long.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  14. How long can one keep the seeds/small plants in the seed trays? Do you need to replant to a bigger pot before planting it in the garden?

    Thank you

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