On Labor Day I spent a couple of hours exploring the Ruth Risdon Storer Garden at the UC Davis Arboretum and I spotted several clumps of sea squill (I identified them as Urginea maritima in my post but since then I’ve found out they’ve been moved to a different genus and are now Drimia maritima).
Sea squill, also known as giant squill or sea onion, is a Mediterranean bulb of impressive size—up 12” wide at maturity. Eventually it splits in two, and over the years you end up with a large clump just like the ones at the UC Davis Arboretum.
The flower stalks in the photos above were past their prime but you get the idea of what a clump looks like. In late fall, blue-green strappy leaves emerges from the bulbs to produce energy. The foliage then dies in late spring and new flower stalks burst forth. Naked ladies (Amaryllis belladonna) have the same growth habit.
After my Labor Day post, I got an excited email from fellow Davis gardener Sue: The Home Depot in nearby Woodland is selling sea squill bulbs! I swung by and yes indeed, there was a good dozen of them mixed in with bulk bags of daffodil bulbs. (As you enter the garden center from the parking lot, walk past the cash registers and look to the right for a gigantic cardboard box on the floor.)
Sold individually in yellow net bags, they’re priced at $15.98. Not cheap, but the sign at Home Depot said that these bulbs are 10+ years old.
The size is truly impressive. My bulb (yes, of course I bought one) is 7” wide and 8” long and weighs in at 5.8 lbs (2.6 kg).
Sea squill bulbs are not easy to find. I’d been looking for years, albeit casually, and had never found a source. If you’ve ever wanted one, now is a good time to check your local Home Depot. Generally I’m not a big fan of big box garden centers, but every now and then they do surprise you.
I must admit that I’m not quite sure where I’m going to plant my sea squill. Probably outside the front yard fence in a sunny and dry spot spot. Drimia maritima doesn’t need much, if any, supplemental irrigation in the summer. As a winter grower, it is perfectly in tune with the precipitation patterns of our Mediterranean climate.
A big thank you to my lovely daughter for appearing as a model in these photos.