Native of Africa, these herbaceous perennials are found in localised areas throughout the continent growing in stony poor soils which have good drainage and sunny positions. Flowering from late spring throughout summer many of the species have sweetly scented flowers and grow from six to eighteen inches high.
We were given the collection in the 1990s by Steve Benham when he worked at Knightshayes Court garden as he was emigrating to New Zealand. He had been growing his collection of fourteen species and forms in a greenhouse. We planted them in a raised bed, incorporating plenty of drainage material and in a hot sunny position, keeping a backup collection in a greenhouse. The plants outside have done reasonably well particularly in mild drier winters; however wet spells can take their toll on the plants and often we have had to replant the area after a wet winter. The main success of growing these plants outside has been that the people visiting Marwood Gardens have been able to see what Tulbaghias are as they are a relatively unknown genus of plants.
There are only about twenty known species, with one possibly, two natural hybrids in the wild. However when they are grown together in a collection, they freely hybridise and great vigilance is needed to keep the species true to name. It is very easy to keep naming hundreds of slightly different cultivars but unless anything is completely different it is a useless exercise and should be resisted.