Making more Bowiea volubilis--HOW?

mark4321_gwMay 6, 2008

Hi, I have a couple bulbs of Bowiea volubilis and want to make some babies. Las fall I tried the technique of removing a piece of scale and simply letting it air--it dried QUICKLY with no new bulbs.

I'm sure a lot of people have their own favorite technique and some can guess what I did wrong above. Has anyone been able to propagate these successfully? It sounds pretty simple when done right!

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floridabear(10b)

Hi. To be blunt. You cant 'make' a new bulb. The plant has to make it for you. Mine did it when it got to the size of a big baseball,...it just stopped growing,and then it took a few weeks, but it just started to split in half. Then a month later it split into 4 bulbs, then 8! It just does it on it's own.
Pulling off a 'layer, is like pulling off a layer on an onion. It won't do anything,as you found out.
I think you just have to let it get to a certain size or age, and it will divide on its own, and then if its like mine, it will just keep doing it. Am I wrong? I have never heard of anyone being able to make more of these,except with seed off the vine.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 6:28PM
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mark4321_gw

Here is one of the methods I've heard about:

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/59921/

Read HarryNJ's comments about propagation:

"Very easy to propagate, any small (or large) fragment of a nice green bulb scale will sprout little baby bulbs if allowed to callus on the edges when simply placed on a bright windowsill. Just leave them until they have pulled all the nourishment they can from the "mother" bulb scale which will then dry up, then remove them and pot up."

Last I tried to do this the scale shriveled up into nothing in just a couple days. Perhaps it wasn't big enough, humid enough? An alternate method suggests that you stick the scale fragment partially into soil and wait for bulblets to form. This might help overcome problems with drying out to some extent.

Yes, you can form small bulbs, even from a fragment of a bulb. I'm curious what the trick(s) are.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 11:13PM
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mark4321_gw

Of course lilies are a well-known example of a plant propagated by taking bulb scales:

http://www.mikesbackyardgarden.org/lilyprop.html

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 11:43PM
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mark4321_gw

I've reposted this as a similar question in the cacti and succulent forum. Title: "Propagating Bowiea by Bulb Scale Cuttings?"

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 1:57AM
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ricjo22(5)

I have had some luck with my bowiea. It got very large and split but not in two. More like a new much smaller one bursting out from the side. I had read this thread about propagating from a piece of scale and there it was a big juicy chunk of scale about 2 inches square easily pealed off from the mother bulb. I let the piece dry in a sunny window for 2 weeks with the edges up then I dusted it with rootone and placed it in a clamshell like they sell fruit in on dry fresh high quality potting soil with the edges down touching soil but not buried. The scale had not lost any of its water and still bright green. I have misted it about twice a week and it sits on a florescent aquarium light to give it bottom heat during the day. It has been over a month and I knocked it over by accident and found two fat fuzzy roots emerging from the edge of the scale in two places. I plan to increase the watering slightly and slowly move it into more sun. It has only been getting an hour of setting sun so far. I would welcome any suggestions that might help me pull this off .

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 6:34PM
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mark4321_gw

Hi ricjo22,

I got this to work, and wrote it up in a different forum (whose name Gardenweb doesn't allow us to even mention...).

I believe I had the bulb fragment in the opposite orientation, and bulbils formed first, then roots. However, if you have roots leave it alone; I bet it eventually makes bulbil(s).

Since I can't link to it, here is my description from the other site. Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of this process.

"I had heard a long time ago that this could be done but found little practical information.

One instruction said merely cut a piece of an outer bulb scale and place in a bright windowsill. The bulb scale would shrivel, leaving small bulbils. This gave me little except a shriveled piece of bulb, within days. It could have been because I live in a reasonably dry climate, or that my timing was wrong--I've since heard this should be done in the Fall.

Here's what worked. Gently peel and cut away a fraction of a fairly loose yet plump bulb scale from the outside of a decent-sized bulb (my bulb was only 2-3 inches across, the scale piece maybe an inch). A careful cut with a razor blade should free the attached ends. You can probably find a less visible part of the bulb to cut from--try to do this so that it doesn't change the overall appearance of the bulb. You should be able to cut off a chunk without unpotting the bulb--this is minor surgery!

Cut the removed chunk (if you took a big one) into smaller pieces--I used about 1/2 inch all around, if I recall, so four pieces.

The key for me now was very high humidity, but not moisture or dampness--this time the bulb scale fragments did not shrivel. My trick was to place the scales--the rounded part down--resting on top of well-draining dry potting soil--do not cover at all. I covered the top with plastic wrap and sucked up some water from the bottom, but not enough to moisten the top--I used a plastic cup with holes, so it was easy to visualize the water level. There are no doubt other, simpler ways to up the humidity but it's useful to have soil already there. Perhaps avoidance of water was not necessary, but I didn't want rot to make me wait another year. These were placed in a bright windowsill.

After a long time--months--patience is required--small bumps will appear on the edge of the scale. After a couple weeks a small bulb will form from this. This bulb will slowly grow and the remnants of the bulb scale will shrivel. Eventually roots will form and a grass-like leaf or two will develop. Gradually remove the plastic when appropriate. At some stage, certainly when the roots start growing, watering can begin. As of today, I have rooted pea-sized bulbs each with two leaves about 6 inches long. Each scale fragment led to one small bulb. I do not know how the scale fragment size ultimately affects the size or number of bulbils.

It was slow but easy and fascinating to watch. I suspect this is faster than growing from seed, and the bulbs reach a small, but reasonable size quickly."

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 1:26AM
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ricjo22(5)

thanks for the info . I will continue to post my success (hopefully) with my upside down method. My adult plant made a few flowers once but never has made seeds.I have taken a few more pieces of the fragmented scale but now they are soft and not so green as they were when I started the first one. How long did it take for your sprout to reach pea size?

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 11:43AM
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mark4321_gw

Hi, I don't remember exactly how long it took--probably somewhere between 6 and 12 months, guessing...

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 3:35PM
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ricjo22(5)

What I thought were roots emerging from the piece of scale have turned up under the scale and formed into tiny pea sized rootless bulbs. Wish I knew whether to turn it over or leave it alone. The bulbs are obviously still feeding off of the still green and succulent scale but they are underneath it. Guess I'll just watch and learn

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 12:51PM
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kayjones(Mo6b)

If it's working, leave it alone - can you post pictures for us to see?

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 10:53AM
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ricjo22(5)

I am afraid this is the best pic I can get with my crummy old camera They are a bit dry here but I figure they get their water from the scale till they get roots

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 8:26PM
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ricjo22(5)

let me try again

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 9:30PM
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ricjo22(5)

The scale dried up weeks ago and I potted them in a bonsai pot. Finally one has begun to grow a vine. I am watering them from below sparingly once a week. They are in a sunny south window but shaded by the leaves of a carob tree bonsai.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 3:01AM
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