Ornithogalum caudatum, or False Sea Onion, is an interesting bulbous plant native to South Africa. The bulb grows above ground and will reach up to 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. The strap-like leaves are semi-succulent and will reach up to 36 inches (1 m) in length. It is an easy plant to grow and it is well suited for containers. A couple of warnings, though: contact dermatitis is common in people who handle the bulbs and because of the size of the bulbils, they can pose a choking danger to children.
Blooming Time: The small white flowers with a green stripe usually flower from May to August. There may be as many as 50 to 100 flowers per stalk.
Culture: Ornithogalum caudatum are easy to culture. They need light shade to full sun with a well-drained soil. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 1 part peat to 1 part loam to 2 parts sand or perlite. The plants are allowed to dry slightly in-between waterings. If the plants are allowed to dry too much, they will go dormant. We fertilize them on a monthly basis during the growing season. During the winter months, the plants are allowed to go dormant and are stored in the cold storage until spring.
Propagation: Ornithogalum caudatum is propagated from bulbils that are formed on the sides of the main bulb or by seed.
Ornithogalum caudatum was featured as Plant of the Week December 12-18, 2003.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.