Cutting Back Unruly Sea Onion
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Kathleen Schroeder
Posted on: June 10, 2003

Several years ago, I saw a sea onion in a greenhouse and loved the look of it. I was thrilled when I saw this unusual plant offered in your catalogue. Naturally, I jumped at the chance, and I bought a sea onion from you last year. It is thriving quite nicely. It has 4-5 baby plants already, and the leaves just keep getting longer and longer.

My question is this: can I cut these leaves back without injuring the plant? The leaves are all currently 6-7 feet long and show no signs of stopping. I have been wrapping them around the room to keep them somewhat under control. I would like to be able to cut them back to 2-3 feet in length, but I don’t want to risk damaging the plant. Could you please advise me on what I can do?

If you have any other information on how to care for this plant, it would be greatly appreciated!

Sea Onion (Ornithogalum caudatum) is quite a tough plant so it can take some "re-engineering". We have cut back leaves without any lasting damage. You will find that the remaining cut leaves will turn brown along the edges of the cuts, but other than the aesthetic effect, there is no need for concern. Occasional rubbing off the brown edges as they become brittle will remove the unsightly dead tissue.

Besides the elongated leaves, you may get similarly elongated flower spikes. If they are too tall you can remove them as is necessary without deleterious effects.

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