How to Care for Silver Squill (Ledebouria)

by | Jul 22, 2020 | 13 comments

I have a few ledebouria or silver squill because I can’t resist them. They are just so cool! I planted one in this face planter below in May 2019 and the picture on the right is this month. It has grown quite a lot in a year. Her hair is looking a bit shaggy. A quarantine hair-do?

Different species

I recently picked up another one that was flowering so I could show you the flowers. The two plants, the one above and the one below are different species, but I have no idea which ones they are. (More research needed.) The one above is taller and has a more striped pattern on the leaves whereas the one below is more of a polka dot pattern and is much shorter than the one above. The one below is in a 3″ pot.

Ledebouria

Ledebouria foliage is gorgeous

Origin

These diminutive little bulbs are from South Africa and the name honors German botanist Dr. Carl F. von Ledebour (1785-1851). It was formerly called scilla, named in 1870 by John Gilbert Baker and 100 years later, the name was changed to ledebouria by John Peter Jessop. The bulbs are tear-drop shaped and they grow above the soil line, unlike most bulbs. (Or what we think of as typical bulbs, like tulips and daffodils, which are planted under the soil).

Ledebouria foliage

A close-up of the foliage.

Ledebouria socialis

I took it out of the pot so you could see the bulbs.

Ledebouria bulbs

Here is a shot of the bulbs that grow above the potting medium

Care

I find ledebouria can take quite a bit of neglect and still do okay. (I’m not going to lie. I have one on a shelf in my laundry room that I didn’t water for a long time and it had very few leaves left. I watered it and it came back to life. I don’t recommend or endorse this type of care…..) Ledebouria multiplies quite quickly (if they aren’t neglected) and soon you will have a pot full of silver squill. The bulbs are easy to separate and you can share some with friends. I find if I let them dry out too much they develop brown leaves which I carefully peel off the bulb, so don’t let them dry out completely. I grow them in bright light and even have one growing under LED bulbs with my African violets and it’s doing well. Putt them in a good bright light such as a west window to ensure there are flowers and use a cactus and succulent medium for good drainage. They do well planted in a shallow pot like the ones used for succulents.

Flowers

The flowers are small, but if you look closely, they are gorgeous! Look at those green stripes and purple stamens! The pictures start with the buds and progress to the bare stalk. The individual flowers are probably about and 1/8″ across, if that.

buds of Ledebouria socialis

This is the flower bud of the Ledebouria socialis

Buds starting to open

The buds are starting to open

Ledebouria socialis flowers

They are opening further

Ledebouria flowers

Flowers opening up

Ledebouria flower

I used an Easy Macro lens to take an up-close picture of the tiny flowers

Ledebouria flowers

The stalk after they fall off

Though the flowers are tiny, they are just so beautiful. This plant is easy to grow, doesn’t need a ton of water, and doesn’t take up a lot of real estate on the windowsill. What more could you ask for?

Ledebouria potted up

I potted it in this minty green pot and I love it!

Do you have a ledebouria? Has it bloomed for you? Let me know in the comments.

Have a great week!

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13 Comments

  1. Teresa Watkins

    Lisa, yes, I call them leopard plants and they bloom every spring for me but then they are outside in the shade. Great plants!

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      That’s good to know, Teresa! How cute would they be as a groundcover?!

      Reply
    • Krista Long

      Hi Lisa. I go to a thrift store at an animal shelter. A lot of older ladies volunteer there and bring in starts to sell for the shelter. I never know what I’ll find, and they never label them..lol. I had never seen this for sale anywhere. I have the taller one, but love the look of the compact one. I had trouble for awhile, but after switching to a shallow terra cotta pot, she’s finally spreading like crazy. Thanks for the info, not a lot on these plants.

      Reply
      • Lisa Steinkopf

        Hi Krista, I’m so glad you could get one. They do spread quite well, so often can be found at a plant swap. Thanks for reading and your comments.

        Reply
      • Sarah

        I have read that these need a dormant period when you don’t water them and they should be kept cool. Did you do this with the one you bought last year?

        Reply
        • Lisa Steinkopf

          I don’t intentionally give them a dormant period, but there may be a time that they go dormant because I forgot to water it …… It does come back, but I doesn’t need a dormant period. Lisa

          Reply
  2. Kathy Stearn

    mine is dying. i water it every week it is very tiny and looks like it is in serious trouble it is in an east window.

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi Kathy,
      What do you mean it looks like it is in trouble? Can you send a picture?
      Lisa

      Reply
  3. Kathy Stearn

    I Have a Silver Squill. Sorry I forgot to Mention

    Reply
  4. Kera

    When the flowers fall off and the stalk begins to wither, is it okay to cut them off? When do you know it is okay to prune off a stalk? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      I do cut them off after all the blooms fall off. They aren’t green, so I don’t they aren’t photosynthesizing and feeding the plant. Lisa

      Reply
  5. Ruth f

    Thank you for the care guide on these sweet baby’s! I just got one recently that is in a succulent garden planter but will be planting alone eventually. I just adore them . It had a few blooms already and has since sprouted and bloomed more ! Sooo cute .

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi Ruth,
      Aren’t the flowers so beautiful, even though they are so tiny?! Thanks for your comments and I hope your plants are doing well.
      Lisa

      Reply

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