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Bowiea volubilis (Climbing Onion)


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 succulent with pale green, onion-like caudex that grows up to 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter, half-buried in the soil. Each year in late winter, the bulb develops a new scrambling or twining, green flowering stem. The stem is covered with many leafless side-branches that may fall off. Flowers are small, star-shaped, greenish or white, up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) across, and appear in spring.

Bowiea volubilis (Climbing Onion)


USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

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 it 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 parent plant's size and pot them up in the same soil mixture. See more at How to Grow and Care for a Climbing Onion (Bowiea volubilis).


Bowiea volubilis is native to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania.


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