Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Society Garlic, Pink Agapanthus
Tulbaghia violacea

Family: Amaryllidaceae (am-uh-ril-id-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Tulbaghia (tul-BAG-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: violacea (vy-oh-LAH-see-uh) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

36 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)
12-18 in. (30-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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There are a total of 33 photos.
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16 positives
8 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Emma60 On Jan 15, 2015, Emma60 from Grassy Creek, NC (Zone 6a) wrote:

I grew this plant last year for the first time and absolutely loved it. Yes, it does have an odor, and that's why it has "garlic" in the common name, but it doesn't travel all that far and the long-blooming violet flowers make up for it in abundance. I'm not sure yet if it will survive Zone 6b, so I dug up a bulb to overwinter just in case.

Positive gumsie On Aug 9, 2014, gumsie from Aptos, CA wrote:

We have a number of Society garlic in our yard and find them virtually care free. Recently we have had a problem with the centers of the plant dying. Our yard man thinks the gophers are eating them. We are in a drought area and try our best to save as much water as possible. Has anyone had such gopher problems? Thanks from Aptos,CA.

Positive Bakersfield On Aug 13, 2012, Bakersfield from Bakersfield, CA wrote:

Here in the central California valley area, zones 8-9, landscapers use the dainlty-looking, but tough, Society Garlic as an accent plant. It tolerates our long, blistering-hot summers better than Agapanthus, which burns and yellows. You've probably discovered another great benefit of using these dainty gems in your landscape: "Society" Garlic makes snails, slugs, and all your neighbors' well-fed dogs and cats positively UNsociable. They wander into your flower bed, take a whiff, turn up their delicate little noses (antennae), and make a beeline for your next-door-neighbors' flower beds, instead.

Negative atn2002 On Jan 10, 2012, atn2002 from Pasadena, CA wrote:

This plant smells bad ALL the time. The smell is similar to SKUNK with some raw SEWAGE tossed in. When the plant is wet with rain or irrigation, the smell is worse. We had them ripped out and discarded. For an alternative, check out tulbaghia fragrans.

Negative imadunloggin On Oct 8, 2011, imadunloggin from Angels City, CA wrote:

We live in lovely home that we rent. There are three society garlic plants in the front yard along the driveway. We have now lived here for over a year and they just flat "STINK" year 'round! When guests come to visit they always ask "what is that awful smell?". The plants do seem to keep the deer away but we are thinking about removing them because the aroma is just too awful all the actually makes us nauseous!!!!

Positive 2QandLearn On Oct 2, 2011, 2QandLearn from Menifee, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I've been wondering about how its flowers are pollinated, or if they ever are, a mine have never had seeds . . . Maybe they don't self-pollinate, & all of mine are from the same clump!

Anyway, I found this comment about the pollination of Tulbaghias:

". . . Most of the species of Tulbaghia are adapted for moth pollination and have dull flowers that become sweetly scented at night. T. violacea seems likely to be pollinated by butterflies and bees as they are scented during the day. . ."

The flowers of my clumps of Tulbaghia are 'dull' during the day, & I've never seen either bees or butterflies on their flowers. Maybe if I go out at night, I'll find some visiting moths!

As a child I decided to pick a bouquet of lowers from my mother's garden for her, put them in a vase with water, & set it in her room as a surprise . . . When she later walked into her room (it was in the center of the house & had no ventilation) she immediately said, "WHAT is that SMELL?!"

. . . I presently have two clumps of it in my own garden, which need dividing soon. Especially the one growing next to my bird-baths, under my olive tree. They receive a lot of shade there --mid morning on to evening-- and their leaves & flower stems grow much longer than the other half of the original clump which is still in full sun. There are NO signs of any aphids on them, even those which have 3 years grown in the shade! When their flower production seems to be stopping, I pour some fresh-diluted 'liquid gold' on the ground under their leaves, and more flowers start coming in a few days!

Neutral julia42 On Dec 1, 2010, julia42 from Pearland, TX wrote:

It really does stink. I assumed it would just smell strongly of garlic, so I plucked some pods to collect the seeds, as it is a pretty little plant. I'd say the smell is more of a combination of garlic + skunk. I'm still not sure whether I really want to plant such a smelly plant, even at the back of my garden. I might - I hear it's a good companion plant as pests don't really want to go near it either...

Positive Elisabbeth On Apr 30, 2010, Elisabbeth from Jacksonville, NC wrote:

Continuous blooms to frost here in zone 8a, humid coastal NC. Loves the drought in clay, very little fertilizer needed. Neat and tidy, can handle the wind. what could be this great without a problem?
The months of continuous, no bother blooming is WORTH IT for a day or two of stink when it freezes or you cut it.
No muss, no fuss, several years now in my front garden.

Positive cam2 On Dec 12, 2009, cam2 from Houston, TX wrote:

This is a really great plant! I take the flowers and sprinkle them on potato soup, chili or a fresh salad. They add a really nice little crunch and a mild garlic burst.

Neutral dordee On Nov 23, 2009, dordee from Silex, MO wrote:

i am neutral because i haven't grown it yet. i am in zone 5, microclimate slightly warmer. so far this winter, we have had 29 degrees and my mini roses, geraniums and petunias are still going strong. matter of fact, so are my mandevillas and impatiens. my question: if i cut down in winter and mulch heavily with oak leaves (in middle of oak/hickory forest so hve lots of them) would they make it thru the winter or should i just put them in pots and bring them in for the winter?

Positive flaflwrgrl On Jun 20, 2009, flaflwrgrl from North Central , FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have it in my xeri yard, both in full sun and part shade; it does well in all locations. Tough, pretty, not bothered by pests or disease. I don't mind the odor at all & neither does my dog. In fact, I rather like the smell of it when I'm in that area.

Positive weatherguesser On Jun 7, 2009, weatherguesser from Salinas, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I have two clumps of Society Garlic -- one growing in semi-shade and one in nearly full shade, and both doing quite well, so the Full Sun caveat might not be strictly true. Both clumps bloom reliably every year and neither seems to be bothered by our (admittedly relatively mild) winters in Zone 9B. That includes the major freeze three winters ago that did in many of my other plants.

I use rubber gloves when deadheading and removing dead leaves; otherwise my hands pick up the smell and it takes a couple of weeks to get rid of it completely. Other than the aroma, however, it's a nice plant that takes little maintenance and has nice blooms reliably for most of the late spring and summer here.

Positive JCS1 On Sep 19, 2008, JCS1 from Lake Mary, FL wrote:

I recently moved to Florida, and was unfamiliar with deer on my property. Society Garlic was recommended by a local landscaper to repel deer. I started using it as a companion plant (AWAY from the house!) for hibiscius, and other flowering plants that deer have a liking for, and have kept out of the neighborhood. This plant really works as a deer repellent. It also tolerates both standing water (for up to a few weeks), and drought, and it is easy to divide. I wouldn't recommend planting it for close up viewing of the flowers, as you want to keep a distance between you and the plant. I even hide it in the middle of outdoor containers to protect container plants located a distance from the house.

Positive Michaelp On Oct 31, 2007, Michaelp from Glendale, UT (Zone 5a) wrote:

I eat the leaves like Garlic Chives, in my salad, it has not made me sick. -I wonder --Has any one here actually been sick from eating this? I would like to know others experience.

Positive tutulady On Jun 20, 2007, tutulady from Vancouver, WA wrote:

I bought this plant twice..first in a specialty plant store then this year as a water I am trying to get info on how to keep this as a water plant..any suggestions?

Neutral greenbud On Jul 13, 2006, greenbud from Houston, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Low maintenance, drought tolerant, pretty purple flowers, clumping gradually spreading growth habit. I love having it in my front yard flower bed. But it >stinks

Positive JaxFlaGardener On Jul 7, 2006, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I made the mistake of using some Society Garlic in a flower arrangement once -- gosh, what a stinking floral creation that was! In my garden planting, I only notice the smell if I am working in close proximity of the plant and disturb its foliage. I am also growing the white flowered variety of Society Garlic. These plants are drought resistant and totally easy care, dependable performers in my climate. It is often used for commerical landscaping around businesses and office buildings.


Positive sharikamp On May 31, 2005, sharikamp from Marietta, GA wrote:

I like this pretty plant, even though it's kinda stinky at times. When it froze last winter it smelled like something died in my backyard. But all was well when I figured it out and cut it back to the ground. Back again pretty as ever this spring!

Positive catfishred2000 On Sep 19, 2004, catfishred2000 from Fresno, CA wrote:

I love this plant grows quick pretty does not take over. Its a must for a garden. I plant it around my roses and spots i want the dogs to stay away. I just sep a clump thats 2 years old.... i got 8 starts and ya can't tell i did any thing to the plant!!!.

Neutral MotherNature4 On Jul 11, 2004, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I strongly suggest that you do not plant this along a walkway in your garden, even if you do like the smell of garlic.

Neutral hanna1 On Jul 10, 2004, hanna1 from Castro Valley, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I love the way they look, my neighbor has some variegated once mixed in with the regular ones, Personally, I have a love/ hate relationship, I have it in the back of my garden, bordering my Rose of Sharons, I only have to smell it at the end of the season when I trim the spent flowers, it is a very hardy plant here, no care! full sun. And don't get me wrong, I love GARLIC.

Neutral Monocromatico On Jul 10, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

I remember that I brought home the bulb of this plant. Not knowing what it was, I kinda dissected the bulb. The smell was strong, and it persisted in my room for weeks. I still can recognize this smell right away.

Neutral JenniferG On Oct 1, 2003, JenniferG from Shalimar, FL (Zone 8a) wrote:

I've been growing this for 13 years. I had it in full shade at first where it did well and bloomed well. The site was near the pool and the garlic smell was overpowering. So I moved it to the edge of the yard near the street. It's very hot by the asphalt and doggies visit, too. But it blooms very well. You can still smell garlic walking by. The stems of spent flowers turn tan and need to be trimmed off to keep the plant attractive. An all-season job. After winter I prune the old leaves to the ground. A good plant for the right site.

Positive htop On Aug 16, 2003, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Sam Antonio, TX
This is a low maintenance plant that produces flowers (1.5 to 2.0 feet above the plant) continuously from March to November. It flowers more abundantly in full sun or morning sun and filtered afternoon shade. The blooms are among the longest lasting (from time of opening to time of fading)in my gardens. The foliage is a beautiful texture and serves as a filler among my other perennials. When the plants look a little shabby if planted in pots, repot into a larger container and/or divide and repot. Being one of my favorites, I am now dividing them and planting them in many areas of my yard. An excellent xeriscape plant!

Positive signal20 On Jun 9, 2002, signal20 from Orlando, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Used as a low border, continous blooms during the warm season. Low-maintenance plant. I have grown it in sand, wet loam, and containers. Very drought tolerant, however will have reduced blooms until next heavy watering. Fertilize as needed to produce blooms. Produces thick "straws" when bloom dies, cut these out for a better looking plant.

Neutral dave On Jun 6, 2001, dave wrote:

The name "Society Garlic" comes from an ancient belief that this garlic can be eaten without causing bad breath. Some sources have reported that it may cause vomiting and should be grown only for ornamental purposes; other sources indicate the leaves can be eaten like chives.

Supposedly it helps repel bugs from the garden, so this is a likely candidate to be used as a companion plant for vegetables.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)
Anniston, Alabama
Mobile, Alabama
Goodyear, Arizona
Paradise Valley, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Queen Creek, Arizona
Anaheim, California
Aptos, California
Bakersfield, California
Beaumont, California
Castro Valley, California
Clayton, California
Concord, California
Elk Grove, California
Fairfield, California
Fresno, California
Garberville, California
Gilroy, California
Hesperia, California
Huntington Beach, California
Le Grand, California
Martinez, California
Menifee, California
Merced, California
Oak Park, California
Oak View, California
Oakland, California
Palm Springs, California
Ridgecrest, California
Riverside, California
Roseville, California
Sacramento, California
Salinas, California
San Diego, California
Temecula, California
Vista, California
Wildomar, California
Parker, Colorado
Auburndale, Florida
Bartow, Florida (2 reports)
Big Pine Key, Florida
Brooksville, Florida
Gibsonton, Florida
Hobe Sound, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida (4 reports)
Keystone Heights, Florida
Lake City, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Miami, Florida
Miami Beach, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida
North Fort Myers, Florida
Orange Springs, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Satellite Beach, Florida
Shalimar, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida
Braselton, Georgia
Cordele, Georgia
Marietta, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Kurtistown, Hawaii
Mililani, Hawaii
French Settlement, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Ruston, Louisiana
Scott, Louisiana
Zachary, Louisiana
Florence, Mississippi
Mathiston, Mississippi
Henderson, Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada
Roswell, New Mexico
Charlotte, North Carolina
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Grassy Creek, North Carolina
Jacksonville, North Carolina
Conway, South Carolina
Florence, South Carolina
Ladson, South Carolina
Saint Helena Island, South Carolina
Collierville, Tennessee
Lenoir City, Tennessee
Alice, Texas
Anderson, Texas
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Baytown, Texas
Blanket, Texas
Boerne, Texas
Brownsville, Texas
Bulverde, Texas
College Station, Texas
Colleyville, Texas
Conroe, Texas
Corpus Christi, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas (2 reports)
Georgetown, Texas
Harlingen, Texas
Houston, Texas (5 reports)
Irving, Texas
Lufkin, Texas
New Braunfels, Texas
New Caney, Texas
Odessa, Texas
Pearland, Texas
Pinehurst, Texas
Port Lavaca, Texas (2 reports)
Richmond, Texas
Rockport, Texas (2 reports)
San Antonio, Texas (3 reports)
Willis, Texas
Manassas, Virginia
Olympia, Washington
Vancouver, Washington

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