Sea Onion: Bowiea volubilis

coyleApril 30, 2008

I've got one of these currently growing on my table facing the window which gets a little morning sun rays beaming in.

It was recently transplanted for me but I noticed some mold growing on the soil. Obviously I must have overwatered it, but wonder if it should be getting more direct sun and more heat. Will it do ok growing in miracle grow potting soil in my ap't where it is? The ap't stays around 78 F, and isn't very bright except for that little morning sun shining in.

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ibartoo(z8 sc)

I don't know how to answer your questions, but i would love to have one too. Can you email me and tell me where you found it.
Thanks, linda

    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 9:23AM
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I have this plant/bulb. The short answer is, yes, you can grow it in your home in that temp. and where it is. Mine WAS 1 huge bulb and it grew that way for about 2 years. Then one day it just started to look pale and started to get all wrinkled and I thought it was dying. turns out it split into 2 bulbs!...then it did it again a few months later, then again, then again! I know have 8 of them. It is outside on my northern porch, it gets very late afternoon sun for about 1 hour. The 'bulb' holds all the water. So you don't have to water it to much. Treat it kind of like a cactus. IF you want a bulb 'Ibartoo/Linda', email me and ask!

It does do BETTER in more light,and more warmth. Try to give it as much light as you can. Even if it is artificial light. It will put out so much more vine, and more blooms on the vine, and if you grow it will split into 2 bulbs, then 4, then 8, then who knows!

Keep it on the dry side. Mine was about the size of a small head of lettuce when it started out. It now looks like a bunch of small eggs all clustered together! IF I seperated them, I could have a bunch of little ones now all over the place:) Spring is a good time to split it. I might do it soon. Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 4:15PM
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This is apparently a very interesting plant to propagate. There are several methods. I tried one a few months ago and it didn't work. Many of the tricks involve peeling off a "scale"--a chunk of the outer layer of the "onion" and coaxing it to produce babies--it's supposed to be easy. So if you are interested, look for the thread.

I'll title the thread: Making more Bowiea volubilis--HOW?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 12:08AM
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Here's a thought. The size of a small head of lettuce seems pretty amazing. I wouold guess that it was grown under close to ideal conditions of temperature, water, etc. So when this huge bulb is relocated to someone's house with totally different conditions, it may no longer be in a situation which favors its existence as a single large bulb.

Maybe there's something--which we may or may not be able to figure out. For example, the bulbs are green and undergo photosynthesis. More bulbs gives greater surface area and thus more photosynthsis--an obvious possibility. Who knows. My only guess would be that under your conditions, it just may not be worth the "effort" to stay a huge bulb. It's just a question of the environment they most favor versus the one in which they find themselves.

A general comment on this species: there are at least two plants called "Sea Onion" in case anyone has been confused regarding the more common "Pregnant Onion" which is indeed not a vine.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2008 at 7:58AM
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Well mine just grew to that size from a small bulb I got on EBay, it is in the same spot since I got it. it got huge and then it divided on its own. It just stopped growing, and I thought it was dying...that is when it split into 2 bulbs! Then they grew a little bit...and then split into 4 bulbs,...grew for another couples of months and now I have 8 bulbs! I would have preferred to have had just the one huge bulb. But I guess that the bulb divides itself when it gets to a certain size, no way to stop it!
I have the 'Sea Onion' as well. It is so easy to grow and puts out so many baby bulblets it is to the point of being silly! I use to have a huge one of that to..,and it blooms all the time, and then it puts out more bulblets. But I didn't pay much attention to it, and I ended up with a much smaller bulb. But it still puts out bulblets all the time!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 6:42PM
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lotta_plants(z8 wa)

I have grown this for years. Right now it is in a west facing window wiht the bulb below the sill and the vine growing through the blinds. Needless to say the blinds dont move. One of them is about 5" accoss and the other is 3", also assorted small ones. Have found that uneven watering will bring spits. Does not like alot of room in pot.

Have had vines grow up to 10' and bloom like crazy.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 9:47PM
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Well, I pulled the 2 bulbs apart and stuck them outside in each of my parlor palms which are in the shade & they are doing great.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 11:03AM
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A friend recently gave me one of her Sea Onions as a going away present before I moved 600 miles back to the East Coast. Unfortunately, the long "sprout" (racime?) growing out of the bulb shriveled and turned yellow in the heat and bright light in the car. The bulb seems to be healthy, though. I cut off the long, feathery sprout and am hoping that another will emerge at some point. Do you think there is hope for my Sea Onion? Should I continue to water, or just neglect it? What time of year does this plant go into dormancy? I was thrilled to receive this as a gift and REALLY want it to survive.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 10:10PM
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chazparas(USDA zone 9 , San Jose, CA)

Fallen leaf, it'll come back. Just give it a short rest and don't overwater it. Mine goes dormant around this time of year for a couple of weeks and begins growning with cooler fall weather. Then again in a couple of months it'll go dormant and resprout in spring when it warms up a bit. Very strange pattern of growth with two dormant periods.
Any way, it'll come back.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 10:05AM
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Thanks, chazparas. For 3 months I followed your advice and resisted the urge to water my sea onion (although, every couple weeks I would spritz the soil with a spray bottle). Just today I noticed a new green sprout growing from the top of the bulb! I'm going to start watering a little more regularly now. I have it in a bay window that receives a lot of light throughout the day.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 8:18PM
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chazparas(USDA zone 9 , San Jose, CA)

Glad to hear it, mine is still dormant! Since August, just waiting for it to sprout. My baby is in a southern exposure plantroom which is cool over the winter, it seems very happy, hopefully it'll split soon! Gonna have to get another and try pollinating when it blooms.
Good luck with yours,

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 11:55AM
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I'm happy to report my sea onion is still alive, but I am always unsure whether to water it. I think it has been in a chronic state of dehydration until this past spring/summer when I increased my watering. It actually plumped up and flowered for the first time. Recently when I've watered it the water has immediately drained out of the bottom of the clay pot and the bulb has started shriveling again. I was afraid I had overwatered. I started investigating and decided to take it out of the pot to look at the root situation and I discovered it was extremely root bound (which, from what I can find online, promotes division). However, I don't think that there is enough soil to retain moisture and keep the bulb turgid. So, I just repotted it in a slightly bigger pot and added more soil (potting soil amended with sand). It has just entered its dormant period, so I am once again afraid of overwatering, but I did give it one good drink to see if the bulb plumps up a bit. It is in a hanging basket in my window. We'll see if it likes its new pot. Always risky repotting.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 10:20PM
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