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Galtonia candicans
by Barry Glick
by Barry Glick


Barry Glick has been involved in the plant world since 1954, when at the young, impressionable age of 5, he witnessed Don Herbert (Mr. Wizard on TV) put a cutting of a plant in a glass of water only to sprout roots a few shows later. Barry replicated the experiment with his one of his mother's prized Coleus plants, and as he watched the roots grow, knew that he was hooked for life.

Barry owns Sunshine Farm & Gardens in West Virginia - Zone 5

July 11, 2010

I don't know why this extremely hardy, bulbous perennial from South Africa isn't in everyone's garden.

A lovely, deerproof member of the Hyacinth family and formerly a member of the Lily family, Galtonia candicans has been at home in my gardens for over 20 years and seems to uncannily coordinate the commencement of its long bloom period with the Summer Solstice, almost to the day. I have it growing in full shade and in full sun, in average soil, in dry soil and in moist soil. It seems to do equally well in all of the aforementioned locations and conditions although it grows noticeably taller in full sun.

Galtonia candicans is a perfect plant for something of height in that "White Garden" you've been dreaming of creating for years now. Even when it's not in flower, the supple, almost succulent 2" - 3" wide, 12" - 24" long flowing foliage is a great presence in your garden. In foliage, the plant is 24" - 36" tall and in flower, the stems tower up to 48"! As they slowly open from bottom to top, the pendulous, icy white, fragrant bells arch gently away from the main stem and stay open for days and days. You'll eagerly embrace the tall, sturdy flower stems as a long lasting cut flower.

They've survived many subzero nights, at times, without snow cover and I would say that they are probably hardy in just about every state on the mainland US. As they grow older, the plants become more massive and produce more and more flower stems. They'll also gently seed themselves into a striking colony.

Galtonia candicans grows in South Africa on the slopes of the Drakensberg in Mpumalanga, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho and the Eastern Cape at altitudes of 4000 - 7000 feet. There are a few other species in the genus Galtonia and of late I've become quite fond of the diminutive, graceful Galtonia viridiflora and have spent the last couple of years seriously collecting seed of it and hope to add it to my plant offerings next year.

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