Tulbaghia simmleri (Sweet Garlic) - An evergreen perennial with a bulblike rootstock that forms 1-2 foot tall and wide clumps of grey-green flate agapanthus like agapanthus like foliage and fragrant lavender-pink tubular flowers composed of 6 tepals with a crown in the center that are held in umbels on top of 1-2 foot tall erect stems in late winter and early spring as foliage is re-emerging and often lasting into summer with some rebloom in the fall and early winter.
Plant in full coastal sun in a well drained soil and best if watered regularly late spring and summer. Dislikes went winter conditions and struggles a bit with dry summers but can survive with minimal summer irrigation. The deciduous crown is hardy to frosts and short duration temperatures down to around 20° F, but even a light frost will knock down the flowering stems. Unlike other commonly grown Tulbaghia this one has a pleasan fragrant that are long lasting so great for the vase with flowers that can perfume a whole house - some feel this a bit overpowering so best for an outdoor arrangemnet. Since it is deciduous, it is best interplanted with evergreen perennials, grasses or sedges.
Tulbaghia simmleri is found growing naturally in the northern Drakensberg Mountains of Mpumalanga and Limpopo, where it occurs on rocky ledges or in light humid mountain forests from 3,100 to 3,700 feet in altitudes. The genus was named to honor Ryk Tulbagh (1699-1771) the early governor of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. Interestingly, Tulbaghia africana was an early name for Agapanthus africanus. This speciic epithet honors Paul Simmler, the chief gardener of the Boissier Collections in Geneva, who cultivated the specimens collected in the Transvaal, though this plant has long been in cultivation as Tulbaghia fragrans and also has been known as T. pulchella and T. daviesii. In South Africa it is commonly known as Blommetjie and also has the English common names Sweet Wild Garlic, Frangrant Tulbaghia and Pink Agapanthus.
We first got this plant from the Huntington Botanic Garden where there are large patches of both the white and pink forms of this species growing on the south facing slopes in their Subtropical Garden. We first grew this plant from 1989 until 2004 and are once again offering it and the white form Tulbaghia simmleri 'Alba'.
We also grow several other Tulbaghia violacea cultivars including Tulbaghia violacea 'Edinburgh', Tulbaghia violacea 'Blanca', Tulbaghia violacea Purpleicious ['Hinetul1'], Tulbaghia violacea 'Oro Verde', Tulbaghia violacea 'Emerisa White', Tulbaghia violacea 'Savannah Lightning' as well as the hybrids Tulbaghia 'Ashanti', Tulbaghia 'Cosmic', Tulbaghia 'Flamingo', Tulbaghia 'Fairy Pink' and Tulbaghia 'Himba'.
Information about Tulbaghia simmleri displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.