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?
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.
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).
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.
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.
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?
Do you have a ledebouria? Has it bloomed for you? Let me know in the comments.
Have a great week!