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Ornithogalum caudatum aka ‘False Sea Onion’


Prized for its smooth, white, onion-like caudex. One-gallon plants have 3-4″ diameter bulbs.

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Ornithogalum caudatum

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Ornithogalum caudatum is also known as “False Sea Onion.” It produces a profusion of up to 3′ long, bright green, strap-like leaves from a large, onion-shaped bulb. In late spring and early summer, Ornithogalum caudatum sends out 3-to 5-foot spikes with small, lightly-fragrant white and green flowers. These flowers are pretty, but are smaller and not as showy as those of other ornithogalums.

Ornithogalum caudatum is a very easy plant to grow — in fact, nearly foolproof. Small bubils form at the plant’s base which break off and roll around, spreading the plant throughout the garden. Ornithogalum caudatum also spreads from seed and can become invasive if untended.

Ornithogalum caudatum needs little care in containers or as houseplants. What’s more, this plant takes poor-draining soils in stride. Ornithogalum caudatum is extremely drought-tolerant, though it looks better with regular watering. If grown in a Mediterranean climate, Ornithogalum caudatum dies back to the bulb during the dry season.

Enjoys a little broken light as hot summer months can burn the leaf tips. Here at the nursery we have some growing in the shade of a large Eucalyptus. It seems to enjoy this as long as leaf debris is not allowed to pile up on it.

Important Note: All parts of the plant are poisonous, and care should be taken to keep bubils away from small children and pets. Ornithogalum caudatum also enjoys the advantage of having many pseudonyms  dodging and eluding gardeners with constantly changing nomenclature.

Horticultural Data

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Names and Synonyms: Albuca bracteata, Ornithogalum longibracteatum
Common Names: Pregnant Onion, Sea Squill, False Sea Onion, False Onion
Family: Hyacinthaceae
Origin: South Africa
Size Label: 1 Gallon
Height: 3′
Width: 2′
Cold Tolerance: 20 to 25°F, -6.7 to -3.9°C
Heat Tolerance: High heat tolerance
Light Requirement: Full sun to shade
Water needs: Very drought tolerant, though it looks better with regular water.
Maintenance: Remove spent flower spikes.
Uses: A nice interesting container or house plant that needs very little care. Can also be grown in rock, succulent and flower gardens. It can take dry shade as well.
Propagation: Easily propagated from root divisions, removing bubils and replanting them or from seed which often sets when plant is grown outdoors.
Problems: None

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Shipping & Availability

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There is a minimum purchase of any 4 plants for online orders. All plants shipped bare root. Other sizes may be available for pick up from our growing grounds in Fallbrook, CA. For more information, give us a call at 760-990-4762.
Click here for complete Price List.