A perennial that's native to the grasslands of South Africa, society garlic has delicate, fragrant blossoms. This plant does well in rock gardens, sunny borders, herb gardens, and containers. Society garlic blooms in the summer and can last through the fall. This low maintenance, heat- and drought-tolerant plant makes a pretty addition to any garden.
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Society garlic resembles its relative garlic chives. The foliage is long and narrow, and often found in a gray-green color. However, there are several variegated varieties, too. The variegated types feature a stripe of white or silver down the length of the leaf, adding interest even when these plants are not in bloom. Like garlic chives, it has a potent aroma, especially when brushed or crushed.
The blossom of society garlic has a star-shape, and each small flower has a tubular corona that spreads open at the tip with six pointed petals. These delicate, sweetly fragrant flowers are often a soft lilac-pink color and are borne in a cluster that grows to be about 20-inches tall. Flowering occurs throughout the summer and often into fall. The flowers and leaves of society garlic are edible. The flowers are often used in making soups and salads.
Society Garlic Care Must-Knows
For the most vigorous and floriferous growth, be sure to plant society garlic in full sun. This ensures a nice, compact growth and the best flowers and foliage color possible. Society garlic tolerates part shade but will have fewer blooms and more of a lax growth habit.
Society garlic prefers an organically rich, evenly moist soil with good drainage. It can tolerate the occasional drought once established, but for extended dry spells it needs supplemental watering.
These slow-growing plants spread via tuberous roots making them a good option for edging, or use them as filler in bare spots in the garden. In areas with cooler climates where society garlic is not quite winter hardy, they can happily be grown as a container plant. This is also a good way to save a few plants for the following spring: just dig up a few tubers and plant in a container. Bring them indoors to overwinter just before the first fall frost, then place in a bright, cool area; cut down on watering in order to simulate a dormant period.
More Varieties of Society Garlic
'Silver Lace' society garlic
This variety of Tulbaghia violacea has lavender blooms held above attractive green foliage with silver margins. Zones 7-10
Variegated society garlic
Tulbaghia violacea 'Variegata' bears lavender-pink flowers almost identical to the species, but its straplike foliage is striped green and white. Grow it in containers, in beds and borders, or directly in shallow water in the water garden, just as you would regular society garlic.