Ledebouria Socialis

Family Asparagaceae
GenusLedebouria
SpeciesScilla socialis
Other NamesSilver Squill, Wood Hyacinth
Sunlight Full sunlight, 3 or 4 hours of direct light every day
Temperature 15°C (recommended)
Growth SeasonSpring and Summer
ClimateDry savannah
PropagationEasily propagated from bulbs Seed propagation is also possible
Height15cm to 25cm when fully mature
Water Minimum water use. 
OthersThey are primarily used for ornamental purposes or as ground cover.

Beauty comes in all sizes, and the Ledebouria socialis is an excellent example of a small plant that effortlessly complements any room where you place it.

Native to South Africa, Ledebouria socialis is a plant that succulent enthusiasts love – beginners and pros alike – for its minimal need of maintenance.

It tends to grow in areas with some shade and cover. In its native South Africa, you can find it in abundance in evergreen woodlands.

Ledebouria socialis is an excellent addition to any xeriscape garden where plants are given water in controlled amounts. These succulents are chosen not only for their beauty but also for growing in pretty harsh conditions.

If your landscape is rocky, the Ledebouria socialis will thrive well. Ledebouria socialis is suitable for rockeries or for those areas in your yard that are usually under shade.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Ledebouria socialis is termed poisonous, but there is nothing to prove that it is harmful. It is mainly defined as toxic due to its close relationship with Scilla natalensis, which is detrimental. So botanical scientists decided better safe than sorry and listed Ledebouria socialis as harmful.

The leaves of the Ledebouria socialis are long and grow to a length of about 15cm. They are lance-shaped and an attractive bright/dark grey, with vivid green patches distributed over most of the top surface. 

The underside of each leaf is all purple.

ledebouria socialis
Photo by @dbterrariums

HOW TO GROW AND CARE FOR THE LEDEBOURIA SOCIALIS

LIGHT

The Ledebouria socialis is one of those plants that can survive without direct sunshine. L. socialis prefers a mostly shaded environment but will still grow with partial exposure to sunlight. Anything from mostly shade to 3 or 4 hours of sun exposure is fine for this succulent.

TEMPERATURE

If you opt to grow the Ledebouria socialis plant indoors, average room temperature during spring and summer is all the heat it requires. When grown outdoors, this plant will thrive when the temperature is 15°C. During the cooler months, the Ledebouria socialis can tolerate temperatures as low as -1°C, but not recommended. We advise you to take the plant indoors during the cold season and provide a warmer environment to wait the cold season out.

You are free to take it out again when the outdoor temperature rises.

FLOWERS

The Ledebouria socialis flowers appear in spring and summer. They grow just above the place where each leaf attaches to the stem. They are held high by pink stems. Along each of these delicate stems is an array of 20 to 25 tiny flowers. They look splendid with their green petals, which are splattered with white blotches. Each flower displays a purple stamen which adds to the overall beauty of the plant.

WATER

Just like most other succulents, the Ledebouria socialis plant thrives with minimal water as it is drought-tolerant. It stores water in the bulb to keep the plant alive during drought seasons. During winter, which is its resting period, give the plant just enough water to keep the leaves from drying up.

SOIL

A mix of half prepared and half unprepared soil is recommended for the Ledebouria socialis plant to thrive. It has also been known to grow well in shallow, well-drained sandy soil rich in humus.

Learn how to DIY your planting soil at home: How To Make Your Succulent Soil at Home.

PROPAGATION

The Ledebouria socialis grows from a purple tear-shaped bulb. As the plant matures, more bulbs develop. To propagate this plant, separate some of the bulbs and plant them in their pots. When you get the bulbs from the mother plant, you stand a better chance of producing plants of good quality and are less prone to developing severe diseases.

When planting, it is essential only to cover half the bulb with soil. Should you forget and cover the whole bulb, your plant will not grow, but instead, the bulb will rot. The bulbs remain half-covered throughout the plant’s life, with subsequent bulbs appearing half out of the soil cover.

Once the bulbs have established themselves into the ground and have begun to sprout, then you should reduce the amount of water given. In spring and summer, wait before watering until you notice that a depth of about 2cm of the soil has dried up.

During the winter months, the plant is in its dormant stage to survive with only half the amount of water during spring and summer.

The best time to propagate using bulbs is soon after the flowers fade; that way, you can enjoy the plant’s full beauty.

Some people propagate the Ledebouria socialis using seeds. However, the success rate is usually relatively low, and growth is much slower.

FERTILIZATION

The best time to fertilize Ledebouria socialis is during spring and summer when the plant is growing. A gentle spray with a liquid fertilizer done once a month is all that is required. For best results, we advise using a balanced fertilizer with equal phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. The phosphorus helps the flowers blossom well, while the potassium ensures the roots grow strong.

You can also try out organic fertilizers, which are non-toxic if you don’t want to use chemicals on your plant.

REPOTTING

It is easy to detect when Ledebouria socialis is ready for repotting as you will notice the bulb tops overcrowded in the pot. When repotting, do not overcrowd the pot. A maximum of three bulbs in a pool measuring between 10cm to 15cm is adequate, and this will allow the plants to grow with enough space to display their unique beauty.

Cover only half the bulb with soil, and during the first 4 to 6 weeks, do not feed the plant. Give the plant water sparingly, waiting until the top is dry before the next watering.

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PESTS & DISEASES

The Ledebouria socialis is a hardy plant, resistant to most diseases, but there are a few issues that can hamper the healthy growth of your plant.

  • Root rot and other root diseases are the most common problems you can expect to see with the Ledebouria socialis. These problems are caused by overwatering.
  • The presence of aphids will show up in the form of a sticky, sooty deposit on the plant.
  • Dull-looking leaves are caused by spider mites that suck the water out of the plant’s leaves.
  • Ledebouria socialis grown for ground cover is prone to cutworms that live just below the top of the soil.
  • Another common problem is the presence of a powdery, mildew coating that indicates a lack of adequate fungicide.

LEDEBOURIA SOCIALIS AND TOXICITY

We usually judge people based on the company they keep; this holds for the Ledebouria socialis.

Because most other succulents in this family are poisonous, the Ledebouria socialis plant is deadly. The Scilla natalensis, closely associated with the Ledebouria socialis, has a toxic sap running through it. People conclude that the Ledebouria socialis is also harmful.

However, there has been no written confirmation of its toxicity, not even by the FDA.

As a responsible gardener, since the Ledebouria socialis has been termed toxic, even if by association, it would be prudent to treat this succulent as such and keep it out of reach of children and pets.

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