I Love The Climbing Onion Houseplant

Jan 19, 2019 | Gardens

Name: Bowiea volubilis aka the climbing onion

Type of Plant: This member of the lily family is from South Africa and is a favorite “pass along house plant.” 

Why I Love/Hate this plant: I love this plant because the contrast between the big, shiny bulb and the lacy foliage is interesting. I also love that it’s an easy plant to grow…it will thrive in a window with an eastern, western or southern exposure.

A Word to the Wise Let the soil go dry between waterings for this plant. It’s a good plant for people who occasionally let a couple of weeks go by before they water their plants. Don’t keep the soil too wet or the bulb might rot.

The foliage on a climbing onion is often trained up a trellis or other support – you could grow it in a high location where it hangs down as well.

I love the contrast between the bulb and the fine foliage.

Know that the plant often goes through a dormant period – if you see the foliage drying up, the plant is probably just going into a regular dormancy. Clip off the dried stems, ease off on the watering, and wait until the new shoots appear. Sometimes this happens right away, and other times the plant rests for a month or so. Just be reassured that when you see this happen, the climbing stems will return.

It seems amazing that so much foliage up on top comes from one stark that’s shooting out the bulb.

This photo shows why thisis a “pass along plant.” It makes new ones!


  1. Jerry Davey

    I use to have a climbing onion. I miss it. Like to get another one.

    I have a pregnant onion which I love just as much.

  2. Alexandra

    Hiya! Looks beautiful. How old was your boweia when it started making new ones, and did you do anything (or not do anything) specific to help it along? Mine’s gotten lovely and big over the summer but I’ve had it a while now and was never sure if this kind made pups.

    • CL Fornari

      They do multiply – the main thing is to not keep it too wet.


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