Tulbaghia violacea 'Savannah Lightning' PP27,405 (White Society Garlic) - A clumping evergreen perennial with fat, tuberous roots from which emerge flexible green grass-like 1 foot long by 1/4 inch wide blue-green leaves. From spring into fall, and sometimes longer in frost free areas, arise slender stalks to 18 inches high topped by an umbel of about 10 to 20 small pure white flowers. The foliage has a strong garlic-like odor on warm days and when bruised by touching or from frost.
Plant in coastal full sun to light shade (this variety prefers more shade than others) with occasional to regular irrigation - somewhat drought tolerant but always looks better with more regular watering. Should prove hardy and evergreen to around 23°F and root hardy to around 0°F and useful in USDA Zone 7 and above. Will make a nice low border plant or for the edge of the lawn, a pond. Keep in mind the foliage smell as it can be very strong and some find it objectionable. This smell is noted to keep animals (cats, dogs, deer away and perhaps even snails and slugs) but use rubber gloves when deadheading and resist the temptation to use the flowers indoors for flower arrangements. The leaves and flowers can be used raw or cooked in food preparation.
This species comes from southern Africa (KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Province) where it grows along forest margins and stream banks and was used for food and medicine by the indigenous Zulu tribes. The genus was named to honor Ryk Tulbagh (1699-1771) the early governor of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and the specific epithet means violet-like in reference to the color of the flowers. It is called Society Garlic, possibly because the scent is not quite as strong its relative, true garlic (Allium sativum).
This plant was a selection made from a naturally-occurring mutation of Tulbaghia violacea var. maritima in the breeding program of Ivan van der Walt of Pretoria, South Africa and introduced in South Africa by Fisk Horticulture. It received US Plant Patent PP27,405 in November 2016 and is being marketed in the US by Star Roses and Plants. The image on this page courtesy of Frisk Horticulture.
We discontinued production of this plant in 2020 as we had two other outstanding white flowering cultivars, Tulbaghia violacea 'Blanca' and Tulbaghia violacea 'Emerisa White'. We also grow several other Tulbaghia violacea cultivars including Tulbaghia violacea 'Edinburgh', Tulbaghia violacea Purpleicious ['Hinetul1'] and Tulbaghia violacea 'Oro Verde', as well as Tulbaghia simmleri (AKA T. fragrans), Tulbaghia simmleri 'Alba' and the hybrids Tulbaghia 'Ashanti', Tulbaghia 'Cosmic', Tulbaghia 'Flamingo', Tulbaghia 'Fairy Pink' and Tulbaghia 'Himba'.
Information about Tulbaghia violacea 'Savannah Lightning' PP27,405 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.