Care Diary: How to Grow Ledebouria socialis

ledebouria minor

Written ByJen Greene

Posted: August 17, 2021

Inspired by seeing that Keri of @succulents.and.clay recently picked one up, I thought I’d describe care for one of my favorite not-quite-succulents: Ledebouria socialias.

These funky little bulbs are fantastic. I found one little bulb of a Ledebouria socialis years ago at the same sale I picked up Felicia the Cactus, my beloved Pilosocereus azureus. I’ve been growing my ‘mother’ plant of Ledebouria for over 5 years now, and have split it up and propagated it numerous times. 

Ledebouria socialis is also known as Silver Squill, and it’s one of the most popular South African bulbs you can find in cultivation. It is a member of the lily family, and thrives in a multitude of environments where other succulent species would not.

Ledebouria is a genus with more than just the one species – and since discovering my love of Ledebouria socialis, I’ve been hunting for others like it. In my research, it appears that while you can find, they’re all just different forms of L. socialis.

I still want them all, of course.

At right is my cluster of Ledebouria “minor”, also referred to as “miner”, a ‘dwarf’ version of the species. In pretty much all respects, Miner is the same as a standard Silver Squill – just about 50% of the size in every way. 


ledebouria minor

Care Requirements for Ledebouria socialis

The best part about these is how hardy and easy they are.

Plant them in relatively rich soil for a succulent: you can use straight succulent mix, or use a houseplant mix with 25% pumice mixed in. They’re not terribly fussy, and I’ve stuck bulbs in just about every type of soil I’ve ever had on hand and they grow. They definitely do seem to do better if it’s a well draining blend, but if you’re able to put them outside, you could probably stick these in the ground and they’d do fine until your first freeze.

While very forgiving, they are a South African succulent-esque species, so you don’t want to over water them…but even if you’re ultra-enthusiastic, if they’re outdoors in warm weather, it’s nearly impossible to over water them unless they’re practically swimming. 

My rule of thumb when I can see soil is to water if it looks visibly dry, particularly during summer. A key part is that when it’s hot and bright out, they’ll go through a ton of water and grow like mad. 

ledebouria socialis laxifolia

Above is a Ledebouria socialis of a cultivar that wasn’t labeled at the nursery, but I strongly suspect is “Laxifolia”.

I have most of my Ledebouria out in the greenhouse currently, and they are doing much better than I initially expected. Many of my succulents, particularly soft succulents like the Echeverias, needed a slow introduction to the greenhouse bench to thrive. The heat and light (even with 40% shade cloth!) was too much for many, and I’m still dealing with some of the burning and crispy leaves many species acquired. 

Not the Ledebouria! 

These are so hardy it’s honestly a bit mind boggling. High heat, winter temps to freezing, they just shrug it all off. 

The biggest thing that may trip you up is that they need plenty of light. Based on what I read online, I thought these could work as houseplants in a bright area, much like a Monstera deliciosa. 


Ledebouria socialis Juda

My first Ledebouria I grew indoors by a window, where it promptly began stretching incredibly. If your Ledebouria is looking lanky and floppy, chances are it’s not getting enough light.

Even my L. socialis variegata, or “Juda”, was getting a bit stretchy in partial shade – exactly the same positioning I have my monsteras currently! They like it very bright and should be treated more like a succulent than anything else. 

Unless your home is extremely bright, these do not do well indoors. You can use them as a sort of light test to see if you can grow other succulents, such as Echeverias, in a given spot, though! If your Ledebouria begin stretching after a couple weeks in a given spot, it won’t be bright enough for you to grow true succulents. 

Once I figured out the lighting situation and moved my Ledebouria outside, they continue to be one of the easiest plants I’ve ever grown. I water my “regular” form (violacea) about as often as I water my outdoor tropical plants, although not as deeply – it’s potted in one of those decorate pots from a discount store, so there’s no drainage hole. 

Does the Ledebouria care? 


ledebouria socialias violacea

Above is a photo in morning light, so it’s much yellower than typical, but the plant is mounding up above its pot and is in dire need of new digs. It’s got a ton of spent bloom stalks and is an absolute mess, but it’s been growing in there for nearly 2 years now!

Part of why it’s thrived in that pot with no drainage is that I don’t really water it heavily – it gets a couple glugs from the watering can every couple days but that’s about it. My Ledebouria in pots with drainage are also watered frequently, but much more heavily. I water until I see it coming out of the drainage hole, and check that the soil throughout the pot is damp. 

During summer, I water often, but these plants will forgive you if you are much less diligent. I’ve found pots of props that I forgot about for months and they were still alive and growing, just slowly. As soon as the forgotten plants got water, they’d put out new growth and bounce right back.

Whichever type of Ledebouria you get, they are all hardy, easy, and attractive plants to grow. They also bloom prolifically with cute little bell-shaped flowers when they’re happy, giving you a clear indicator of thriving plants.

They will set seed if you have multiple unrelated plants outdoors, although I haven’t actually sown and grown any. I’ve had my Violacea for years and never had any seeds until I brought home the Miner, and at that point they began producing seed. Due to how prolifically they cluster and clump, it’s logical to think they’re not self-fertile, ensuring that any seeds that are produced have a varied genetic makeup compared to a mound of cloned bulbs. 


silver squill blooms

Ledebouria socialis mounds and produces tons of baby bulbs, so when you repot your plant, expect to have oodles of baby bulbs to share with friends and family! They should fall apart relatively easy, although if you really want to aggressively divide your plant, you can break it down to each individual bulb. 

They do look and seem to grow better when they’re in at least small clusters, so I’d suggest trying to keep them in small clumps if you do divide up your plants. 

And that’s it! These are rewarding plants that are beautiful and easy to grow. They look impressive when allowed to grow into large clusters – they are capable of entirely filling a half barrel planter on their own – but they can also be kept smaller and more manageable if you don’t have that kind of space. 

This winter I plan on planting some in-ground to see how they do on my “South Africa” zone with the aloes and mesembs; I’ll update once they’re in! 

You can follow along on my Instagram if you’d like to see regular updates: @TrexPlants 

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