TULBAGHIA ARE EASY AND UNDEMANDING PLANTS TO GROW.
Apart from a few exceptions, the Tulbaghia certainly don't get cosseted here. I prefer to grow them hard. In spring as soon as you see new growth, tip them out of their pots, shake out all the old roots and compost [you'll see lots of vigorous cream new roots] and re pot. When all danger of frost has passed, place in a position with good air movement in full sun. All of the plants in pots including those in the collection are treated in this way.
IN THE GARDEN:
Tulbaghia need little attention. Choose a sunny sheltered position. They are best lifted and divided every two-three years, which will stimulate healthy new growth and flowers. See the HARDINESS SECTION for those which may be suitable.
PROTECTION FOR WINTER
The Tulbaghia are placed in an unheated tunnel. The foliage for the majority is trimmed back to reduce fungal disease, and we gradually reduce water.
They remain in their pots and are kept almost but not quite dry, enduring temperatures that frequently get down to -7C. Under this regime we have had very few losses. But I have also encountered people who over-winter them in porches, sheds or cold frames.
IN THE GARDEN:
They need little attention. Cut back foliage in November and apply an open [free draining] mulch of gravel or bark around the crown, but NOT peat, which will encourage keel slugs.
PESTS & DISEASES:
Tulbaghia are seldom troubled by pests or diseases, however because we are surrounded by wetland, we have found keel slugs, garden slugs and occasionally snails can be a problem either grazing on the bulbs/rhizomes below soil level or on the emerging shoots beneath soil level in the spring. We value our birds, frogs, and toads, so we don't use slug pellets. A sharp layer of grit/eggshells, copper rings etc can be tried, or for biological control the slug parasitic nematode, ‘Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita’ can be introduced.
Tulbaghia grown in pots don't appear to be much bothered by slugs or snails, and even if they do have the odd nibble the plants soon regenerate. We don’t use any control here.
My recommendation on hardiness is only based on those tried outside in our own environment and that gleaned in literature. Rather than claim a Tulbaghia is hardy in order to generate a sale is not a principle I condone. Much better to inform so that measures of protection can be taken. That way both Tulbaghia and my reputation remain in tact and of course you get to enjoy your flowers.
Since most Tulbaghia are amenable to division, [In fact they thrive on it] I would suggest that once you have a good sized clump, you divide the plants in spring, place half in a pot and try the other half in the garden and see what works for you.
I would welcome feedback of any that you have found to be hardy in order that I may inform others.
Please state what sort of environment they were grown in and of course where in the world you reside.
The list below is generated by on-going trials we are undertaking to establish outside winter hardiness of Tulbaghia either in pots or in the ground in West Wales.
Oh! I just know I am just going to get a flood of mail saying “but T. .... survives in my garden etc.”
TULBAGHIA WE HAVE FOUND HARDY IN WEST WALES:
Tulbaghia natalensis pink form. [In the ground and pots]
Tulbaghia Hazel. [In the ground and pots]
Tulbaghia Cosmic. [In the ground and pots]
Tulbaghia leucantha hybrid Ref. 1122 [In the ground and pots]
Tulbaghia coddii [In pots]
Tulbaghia Bob Brown [In pots]
Tulbaghia montana given excellent drainage [In pots]
Tulbaghia leucantha [High altitude form from Sentinal Peak. [In pots]
TULBAGHIA LIKELY TO BE HARDY IN A SHELTERED POSITION:
Tulbaghia John Rider.
Tulbaghia John Mays Special.
Tulbaghia violacea var. robustior.
Tulbaghia cominsii x violacea which is best planted in a rockery.
Tulbaghia violacea and Tulbaghia verdoorniae x violacea also thrive outside at the Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh.
Tulbaghia cominsii is in flower all year in the rock garden at Ness Gardens.
It is claimed that Tulbaghia acutiloba is also hardy. [Untried here.]
Tulbaghia montana given excellent drainage.
However the latter three are so delicate as to be lost in the big outdoors of our garden. We place them in clay pots dressed with grit, which will show the flowers off to advantage.
TULBAGHIA WE HAVE FOUND TO BE TENDER:
Tulbaghia violacea Silver Lace.
Tulbaghia cernua hybrid ref. 1131
Tulbaghia violacea Pallida. Hardy in Devon apparently and having read on the web that this survives in the Midlands we gave it a go.......It went!.......but who knows.....it may work for you, and we shall be repeating the trial.
Tulbaghia violacea var. maritima.
This is known to be tender, and here we have a bit of a conundrum. A forgotten tray of pots left out during the winter of 2005 survived here despite being frozen solid for days. They lost their foliage, but the plants regenerated wonderfully on being taken into the tunnel in March. In the summer of 2006 some of the perianth tubes on our plants fused together giving the single flowers a double appearance. Whether this is a natural occurrence or a result of rather odd things happening in the bulb world vis global warming or this is a T. violacea var. maritima x seedling that has taken over in our stock pot I am as yet unsure. For now to save confusion we are keeping the present name. To be continued……...
The winter of 2008 saw temperatures plummet down to -14C which did for many of my Tulbaghia violacea var. maritima.
Having compared this with habitat collected plants I conclude that it is true to type, and I was probably just lucky in 2005. So protection undercover for winter is recommended.
TULBAGHIA FOR INDOOR CUTIVATION DURING WINTER:
The following require over wintering on a cool light windowsill indoors.
Tulbaghia capensis. This flowers away quite merrily at a temperature as low as 35 - 40 F.
PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED WITH TULBAGHIA:
Why don’t I have flowers on my Tulbaghia plant?
I have occasionaly come across this question on the web. If your plants are planted in the ground I would recommend that you dig them up, shake out all of the old dead roots and plant in a pot with free draining but retentive compost with added slow release fertilizer and put in a hot spot in full sun, until established then replant in the garden.
The worst offender is Tulbaghia violacea ‘Silver Lace’ which is best grown in a pot and left under glass to benefit from all of the radiant heat it can get earlier on in the year.
Remember! Tulbaghia like being divided regularly.
They have incredibly large root systems. Often by the time the roots fill a 1½ litre pot very little compost will be in evidence in comparison with the amount it was originally planted in.
Rather than potting on a plant with a consolidated root into an even larger pot, I prefer to unravel the roots, wash away any existing compost and only then, pot on into a larger pot.
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