Society Garlic can take a bit of abuse, a good choice for landscaping.

Q: We saw charming lavender flowers on grass-leaved plants in the middle median of US 1 in Stuart. What are these plants and are they a good choice for my home landscape?

– Jehovah’s Witnesses via email

A: Society Garlic is indeed in bloom and has been on Treasure Coast for a few weeks now. It is used in the averages of some of our busy roads and for beds in water-conscious landscapes. This choice of plants is not a coincidence. Tulbaghia violacea, as it is known to scientists and horticulturists, is a tough plant that will survive planting in challenging locations.

The plant genera Tulbaghia and Society Garlic, named after Ryk Tulbagh, governor of the Cape of Good Hope from 1751 to 1771, come from South Africa. It is an herbaceous perennial with thin, belt-like leaves that grow in clusters 12 to 18 inches in height and smell of garlic when crushed or brushed. The leaves are medium green, although there are varieties that offer variegated foliage. The roots are fleshy, bulbous rhizomes that slowly expand into clumps.

Pretty clusters of lavender, rose or white flowers emerge on long stems and are held over the foliage in late winter and well into spring. Each plant blooms for a few weeks. Unlike the leaves, the flowers have a sweet scent that attracts butterflies and bees. The fruit is a triangular capsule that splits when ripe to release flattened, hard black seeds. The seeds germinate easily in warm temperatures and produce new plants.

Society Garlic is a hardy plant that grows from USDA Hardiness Zones 7-11 in most parts of Florida. However, hard freezing will damage the leaves. The preferred planting location is in full sun or partial shade; However, full sun is preferred, and the plant will flower best with enough light. Well-drained soil is a must. Society Garlic is drought tolerant but looks better with occasional use of water during periods of drought. It is moderately salt tolerant, so use it in sheltered places by the sea.

Society Garlic is helpful in almost any sunny, dry place. It is effective as ground cover, borders, flower beds and herb gardens because the foliage is edible and is reminiscent of chives. It’s a popular container plant in colder locations and is used in communal plantings because of its ease of cultivation. When planting for the first time, apply mulch to suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Society Garlic has no unusual fertilizer requirements and is pest resistant. Thinning out the systems is a necessary maintenance task; Do this when the beds are overcrowded.

Carol Cloud Bailey is a landscape consultant and gardener. Send questions to or visit for more information.

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