Bowiea Volubilis Care and Propagation (A Complete Guide)

By | Updated October 13, 2023

Bowiea volubilis care and propagation is not difficult, but it does require some knowledge of the plant’s needs.

They are very low maintenance plants, so they’re perfect for the busy person who doesn’t have much time to spend on their garden.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about how to care for and propagate your Bowiea volubilis plants, so you can have them flourishing for years to come!


The Bowiea volubilis, commonly known as Climbing Onion or Sea Onion, is a monotypic plant in the asparagus family.

It originates from Africa, where it can be found from Kenya to South Africa.

The Bowiea volubilis succulent grows from a bulb that’s eight inches in diameter in its natural habitat and four inches wide when grown in pots.

The thin stems of this plant grow out from the bulbs and branch to about two feet tall.

Bowiea volubilis plants have beautiful flowers that look like stars. Flowers emerge from January to March and appear on stems throughout the plant.

How To Care for Climbing Onion (Bowiea Volubilis)

Sun Exposure & Light Requirements

The Bowiea Volubilis plant is a succulent that grows well in full sun to partial shade. As such, it is crucial to make sure that the plant has access to plenty of light.

However, if you live in a warmer climate with higher temperatures than most plants can handle, it’s best to provide partial shade during the day and full sun during the cooler evening hours.

If you live in a climate with cold winters, it’s best to provide partial shade during the day and full sun for at least an hour or two in the morning, afternoon, or early evening.

The Bowiea Volubilis needs plenty of sunlight, so make sure they are placed outside where there is plenty of natural light as often as possible throughout the year.

If not, consider using artificial lighting indoors, which should mimic daylight conditions with 12-14 hours per day and about 16% indirect/full sunlight coverage.

Watering Requirements

The Climbing Onion plant is a succulent that requires minimal watering. It is recommended to water Bowiea volubilis plants every two or three weeks.

It can survive a prolonged drought without showing signs of damage, but watering once per month will prevent the plant from wilting and turning yellow.

The best way to know when you need to water your Bowiea volubilis is to look at the soil. If it’s completely dry, then you need to soak it in a bucket of tepid water.

If the Bowiea volubilis plant is getting too much water, it will show signs of wilting.

The best time to water Bowiea volubilis plants in an outdoor environment is at nighttime. This allows them to absorb ample sunlight during the day to store energy for when their leaves are exposed to less light.

It’s also important not to overwater your succulents because this may cause rot and mold issues.

In general, it’s better if a succulent gets watered just once per month than being left unwatered but then receiving a lot all at once (like after being outside and then brought indoors).

Soil Requirements

Bowiea volubilis plants require a well-draining soil.

The Climbing Sea Onion plant can grow best in pots filled with cactus potting mix or another sand-free succulent soil mixture.

Some people also use gravel as a substitute for planting their Bowiea volubilis, which is not recommended.

It may cause stress on the roots making them unable to absorb nutrients from the surrounding soil that help feed healthy growth during hot weather periods.

A soil rich in organic matter and good drainage will give the plant a better chance of surviving during periods when it cannot be watered for an extended period.

Temperature and Humidity

The Bowiea volubilis succulent plant prefers temperatures between 20-28 Celsius (68-82 Fahrenheit). They also like to be in a place with indirect light.

The humidity should be kept at 60 to 80%. It can be achieved by misting the leaves every day or two, especially during summer when it tends to dry out more quickly than usual.


In general, Bowiea volubilis plants are not heavy feeders.

They do well with a fertilizing schedule of every two months or so during the growing season and less often in the winter months.

We recommend using a half-strength water-soluble fertilizer to avoid burning your plant’s roots while providing sufficient nutrients.

If you’re struggling with yellowing plants, it may be because they need more nitrogen which can come from potting soil amendments such as manure tea, coffee grounds, composted leaves, alfalfa meal & blood meal.

Plants will also benefit from applying Epsom salts if their leaves start turning brown due to magnesium deficiencies.

Potting and Repotting

If you’re potting up your plant, removing the old soil from the roots is a good idea.

This can be done by either shaking off any remaining debris and giving them a thorough rinse before soaking in water for five minutes or running some freshwater over them with your fingers.

Use clean hands when doing this! Remove as much dirt as possible without breaking root tissue, including rocks or other foreign objects that may have become lodged in the mix.

If obvious bugs are crawling around on top of your succulents, they need to be killed so they don’t infest another potted succulent.

Once you’ve removed all of these things, it is time to consider where to place your Bowiea volubilis in the pot.

If you’re using a container with drainage holes, ensure your Bowiea is at least an inch or two away from them so it doesn’t get waterlogged and rot.

Use a combination of fresh soil and perlite to create enough space for air circulation but keep moisture levels where they need to be. This will help prevent “wet feet” syndrome, which can cause root rot problems later down the road.


Bowiea volubilis plants have thin, woody stems and are easy to prune.

If the plant’s growth is becoming too thick or tall for its container or your space in general, you can cut it back by about two-thirds of its total height using sharp shears.

You’ll want to make sure you leave a bit from which new branches will grow–about one-third of what was removed should be left on the stem as an ‘ear,’ with leaves at their base.

You may also wish to take off any yellowing leaves that might prevent the sun from reaching other parts of the plant.

These can just be trimmed away with scissors close to where they attach themselves onto smaller branchlets.

Finally, when trimming or pruning, be careful not to tear the plant’s flesh.

Pests and Diseases

Bowiea volubilis plants have only one major pest that affects them: mealybugs.

These pests are tough to get rid of and can often be difficult to spot on the plant, but they will leave behind a sticky honeydew residue as they feed off the plant’s juices.

In order to combat these pests, it is important not to water your Bowiea volubilis from above—instead, water from below with a mister or drip irrigation system.

Bees can also bring in some diseases, such as powdery mildew, which will show up early enough before noticing any disease symptoms like wilting leaves and spots on newer growths.

Powdery mildew is a fungal infection that attacks foliage, especially on the upper parts of plants. It is a white, powdery growth seen on the leaves, flowers, and stems.

When noticing any sign of white powder on the leaves, the first thing to do is to isolate them and cut off all infected parts.

Once you have done this, it’s time to turn your attention towards sanitation for future prevention.

The plant should be removed from its pot, watered with a fungicide solution (alcohol + water), and then repotted in new soil without touching or adding any diseased matter to the top layer of soil.

How to Care for Bowiea Volubilis (Climbing Onion) in Winter

To care for your Bowiea Volubilis during winter, follow these steps:

  • Place it near a sunny window with bright indirect light. If this isn’t possible, place it on a south or west-facing windowsill where it will receive some sun throughout the day without getting too hot from direct sunlight.
  • Water once every two weeks by gently sprinkling water around the surface of the soil until all topsoil feels dampened but not soggy. Don’t let any water accumulate at the bottom of the plant’s pot.
  • Never let your Bowiea Volubilis dry out completely, as this will cause it to stop blooming and may result in death.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet.
  • Never allow your Bowiea Volubilis to freeze or get too cold! If it’s below 40 degrees Fahrenheit outside, bring it inside during these winter months and place it near a sunny window with bright indirect light.

For a proper Climbing Onion care in winter, one must try to be attentive to how it reacts over time and, at the slightest sign of alarm, meet its needs as soon as possible.

How To Propagate Bowiea Volubilis (Climbing Onion)

Propagating this plant is accomplished in various ways.

One of the more popular methods is to divide and repot smaller bulbs produced by the mother plant in late summer or fall.

Cut the main stem at the soil level, and remove any roots that are not healthy.

Slide a knife under each bulb to free it from its parent plant without injuring or damaging it. Then gently shake off the dirt.

Replant in pots with suitable drainage holes. The smaller bulbs will grow quickly into full-sized plants if given enough light and water during their rooting period.

Also, take cuttings of new growths when they reach about three inches long (eight centimeters). This method is best done after flowering has finished because you want newly developed leaves on your cutting material.

Prepare the potting mixture by adding one part coarse sand to two parts loamy compost, such as peat moss mixed with bark chips.

Remove the bottom leaves from your cutting material and dip the stem in a natural rooting hormone (like honey) before placing it into pots.

Water enough to be sure that the potting mixture is moist but not wet; then place them where they will get indirect light, with temperatures around 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.78 degrees Celsius).

Growth should start four to six weeks after planting, depending on how well you took care of these steps.

Is the Bowiea Volubilis (Climbing Onion) Toxic?

The Climbing Onion (Bowiea volubilis) is toxic to dogs, cats, and humans and should be treated with care.

When the Bowiea volubilis is consumed in large quantities, it can cause a burning sensation in the mouth, stomach cramps, and vomiting.

Handling the plant without gloves is not recommended as skin contact may also lead to irritation of mucous membranes.

Final Thoughts

Bowiea volubilis (Climbing Onion) is an easy way to add a fresh, new look to any room.

They’re also aesthetically pleasing and can be grown as outdoor or indoor plants in most climates.

If you have enough space for one or two Bowiea Volubilis, it’s worth considering adding these plants to your home this year.

You won’t regret the decision!

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