If you love the anticipation of a fresh burst of blooms in late summer, then summer hyacinth (Galtonia candicans) is sure to thrill. Native to the slopes of South Africa, this perennial dazzles with delicate, creamy white, bell-shaped flowers that arch gracefully away from the main stem. The blooms, which stay open August through September, sit atop rich, gray-green linear foliage. And the plant isn’t afraid to stand out—its sturdy stems can grow up to 4 feet tall, with each spike producing 20 to 30 flowers.
Common name: Summer hyacinth
Botanical name: Galtonia candicans
Plant type: Bulb
Zones: 6 to 10
Height: 2 to 4 feet
• Sun: Full sun to light shade
• Soil: Moist, well-drained, organically rich
• Moisture: Medium
• Mulch: Mulch to preserve moisture.
• Pruning: None needed.
• Fertilizer: None needed.
• By seed or by bulblets.
Pests and diseases
• Infrequent, but slugs and snails can be a problem.
• G. candicans can be left in the ground year round in Zones 6 and warmer. In colder zones, dig up bulbs and bring them indoors during winter.
• As summer hyacinth matures, it will become larger and produce more flower stems, giving way to a stunning, self-seeded colony.
• The plant has fragrant blooms and is deer resistant.
• G. candicans looks great in beds, borders, containers, and as a cut flower. It pairs especially well with gladiolus.
All in the family
• The genus Galtonia has four species of bulbous perennials native to the moist grassland of South Africa. It’s named for Sir Frances Galton, an English scientist who is most notable for creating the system of fingerprint identification and the concept for modern weather maps.
• The plant is part of the Hyacinthaceae family, which also includes popular spring-blooming flowers such as hyacinth (Hyacinthus), bluebell (Hyacinthoides), and grape hyacinth (Muscari).
Where to buy
• Sunshine Farm & Gardens, Renick, WV, 304-497-2208, www.sunfarm.com
• Lazy S’s Farm & Nursery, Barboursville, VA, www.lazyssfarm.com
• Digging Dog Nursery, Albion, CA, 707- 937-1130, www.diggingdog.com
(Photo courtesy of Barry Glick/Sunshine Farm & Gardens)