The Galtonias - of which there are two good ones for garden use - are good mid to late summer flowering bulbous plants.
They are excellent in mixed borders or as stand alone specimens in their own bulb bed.
Both prefer full sun, and moist growing conditions - especially in the early growing season for Spring through to Summer.
Galtonias are one of the later flowering bulbous plants, and will help any border or bed back to life and interest with their bell-like pendulous flowers. They are of the same family as Hyacinths - Hyacinthaceae, but do not share the same colour range. Both images below were taken on 12th August 2007
Galtonia viridiflora <------> Galtonia candicans.
Galtonia viridiflora has erect but sometimes arching stems of off-yellow or greenish yellow bell flowers. The foliage is grey green in colour and long lanceolate leaves, that can be as long as 24in. The flower stalks normally reach 2-3 feet. It is reasonably hardy, but benefits from a winter mulch of a few inches deep to help protects tips of emerging growth.
Galtonia candicans has altogether longer leaves and taller flower stems. The flowers are pure white and noticeably scented - unlike the G. viridiflora. The flower stalks in this case can reach 3-4 feet in height. Mulch in late Autumn to give winter protection.
In both Galtonias, the flower stems are held above the foliage and make for attractive and slightly unusual features. There has always been interest in the plants whenever I have photographed them - with many questions asked.
Galtonia bulbs are herbaceous bulbous perennials which have dormancy period from late autumn through to spring. Bulbs should be planted as soon as available in late Autumn. In hard winter areas, they should be potted in containers and over-wintered in cool greenhouse for protection, then planted out in bed or border in the early spring. Alternatively, they can be planted as centrepiece of large container - mixed with other plants. They also make for a superb patio display if several bulbs are planted to grow as specimens in large container.
Galtonias are not readily available at garden centres, but are available in mail order bulb suppliers. They sell out quite quick, so get your order in sooner rather than later.
Galtonia bulbs should be planted 6 - 8in deep.
Galtonias can be propagated from collected seed. Collect the seed as soon as ripe, and sow in container with seed compost. Over-winter for first two years in protected area - cold greenhouse will suit, or coldframe if large enough.
Easier, is to remove any offsets during the late dormant season (early spring) and grow on in containers for the first year - planting out in the following spring.
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