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Bowiea volubilis (Climbing Onion, Zulu Potato)


Scientific Name

Bowiea volubilis Harv. ex Hook. f.

Common Names

Climbing Onion, Sea Onion, Climbing Potato, Zulu Potato


Ophiobostryx volubilis, Schizobasopsis volubilis

Scientific Classification

Family: Asparagaceae
Subfamily: Scilloideae
Tribe: Urgineeae
Genus: Bowiea


Bowiea volubilis is an unusual, long living perennial succulent plant. The pale green onion-like caudex is up to 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter and grows half buried in the soil. Each year in late winter, the bulb develops a new branched scrambling or twining, green flowering stem. The stem is covered with many leafless side-branches that may fall off. The small, starry, greenish or white up to 0.4 inch (1 cm) wide flowers appear in spring.

How to Grow and Care

Overwatering is a major concern with this plant. Best growth is achieved with moderate and consistent moisture, but never let the plant sit in water and allow the soil to dry out between watering. Stop watering completely when the stalks dry out after blooming in late summer. At this point, you can cut off the spent stems when they begin to dry out and brown. Resume watering when the bulb re-sprouts, generally in fall. You can move the plant to a sheltered area outside in summer as long as the plant is kept above 50° F (10° C). Supplemental feeding is not a necessary part of climbing onion care.

Provide the airy green stems with a support structure or simply allow them to tangle around themselves. Divide the offsets when they are half the size of the parent plant and pot them up in the same soil mixture… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for a Climbing Onion (Bowiea volubilis)


Native to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania.


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