Tulbaghia violacea

Common names: Wild Garlic or Society Garlic

Tulbaghia violacea is an indigenous bulbous plant that is very hardy and easy to grow. It can withstand drought, heat and even bitter cold weather, making it a wonderful plant for a low-maintenance garden. 

The strap-like grey-green leaves are strongly garlic-scented when brushed, and throughout summer, rounded heads of lilac-pink flowers are borne on long stalks, about 30-40cm tall. These lilac-pink flowers are a pretty display from early spring to early autumn – making it a striking show throughout summer. Flowers are sweetly scented at night. 

It is a wonderful landscaping plant that can be used in formal, informal as well as rockery gardens. It can be used as an edging plant, a formal border or along a pathway and is a stunning, mass planted groundcover, especially for difficult, dry, sunny areas. 

Growing Tulbaghia

Plant Tulbaghia in fertile, well-drained soil. Replenish with compost annually for more flowers, and mulch well.  It is good to know that it grows better when the clumps remain undisturbed for many years. When the clumps become messy you can split them, but be careful not to split them into too small clumps.  Further, Tulbaghia prefers full sun. 

Uses of Tulbaghia

Ecological benefits are that it attracts bees and other pollinating insects. It discourages snakes and aphids as they dislike the smell, and can, therefore, be beneficial for planting around a rose or vegetable garden. 

Eating Tulbaghia

Tulbaghia definitely has edible sections, namely the flowers and the leaves which can be eaten raw.  The leaves are quite peppery and can be used in salads and other dishes much like you would garlic.  The flowers are also peppery but are slightly sweeter with an onion taste.  The bulbs are more medicinal and are often used by the Zulus.

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