Albuca is an eye-catching bulbous plant that is native to northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. These plants all have similar, simple, and elegant flowers but can grow extremely varied foliage forms depending upon the species. The leaves and flowers are covered in downy hairs that emit a pleasant scent when touched.
Albuca was first collected in the 1800s, and today there are 150 recognized species. Not all of these are in cultivation, but the species made especially appealing and unique plants for the summer garden. Most have white, green, or yellow drooping or erect flowers with three petals.
In their native South America, Albuca blooms in late winter to early spring. Growing Albuca usually starts with seeds or bulbs. Seeds can take three years to produce flowers.
Albucas are perennials, but they should be treated as annuals or dug up and overwintered indoors in cold regions. The biggest problems when growing Albucas are rotten bulbs from excess wet and frost damage.
Albucas require sandy, loose soil in full to partial sun to produce their characteristic blooms. The plants can grow 3 to 4 feet (90 to 120 cm) tall with a slightly smaller width. Good cultivation encourages the removal of the bulb from the outdoors in zones with frost. They are not frost-hardy, and cold temperatures can damage the bulb.
These plants look particularly attractive in rock gardens, slopes, and even containers. The biggest requirement for Albuca care is superior drainage. The regions to which they are native are not known for consistent moisture, which means it is drought tolerant once established. Constant watering at planting is necessary to mimic the rainy season, but after that, light watering is all that is necessary when caring for Albuca.
Fertilize the plants annually at installation and early spring with a portion of good all-purpose bulb food. Cut back spent foliage after it yellows and begins to wilt.
The best way to propagate is from offsets, divided away from the parent plant and separately planted. Not all Albuca produce offsets, so you may need to rely upon seeds to get more of these exciting plants.
Fresh seeds generally germinate a week after sowing. They should be sown at the same time the parent plant is actively resprouting. It needs to be planted fairly quickly, as seeds have a viability period of only about six months. Once planted, keep seedlings moderately moist in medium light and a warm area. In about three years, you can look forward to another plant that may be different from the parent plant, as these seeds tend to hybridize easily.
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Fertilize the bulbs annually at installation and in the early spring with a portion of good, all-purpose bulb food. Cut back spent foliage after it yellows and begins to wilt.
The best way to propagate Albuca is from offsets, which can be divided away from the parent plant and separately planted. Not all Albuca produce offsets so you may need to rely upon seeds to get more of these exciting plants.
Fresh seeds generally germinate a week after sowing. They should be planted at the same time the parent plant is actively resprouting. It needs to be planted fairly quickly, as the seed has a viability period of only about 6 months. Once planted, keep seedlings moderately moist in medium light and a warm area. In about 3 years, you can look forward to another Albuca which may be different from the parent plant, as these seeds tend to hybridize easily.
|Albuca ‘Frizzle Sizzle’|
If you’re looking for an unusual plant to bring enjoyment and whimsy to your gardening endeavors, then Albuca ‘Frizzle Sizzle‘ is for you! Native to South Africa, Albuca ‘Frizzle Sizzle’ is recognizable by its distinctive leaves, which are narrow, spiral tipped with glandular hairs. Its thick, tightly curled leaves on short stems arise from an underground bulb. Fragrant yellow flowers appear in spring on flower spikes that are adorned with 10-20 blooms per spike. The blossoms have a pleasant fragrance that is slightly sweet, with a hint of vanilla.
Albuca ‘Frizzle Sizzle’ does best in full sun. You’ll want to let the soil dry out between waterings. One of the best things about this distinctive and eye-catching plant is that there are no pest or disease problems with ‘Frizzle Sizzle,’ making it an ideal home garden plant.
Keep in mind, when Albuca ‘Frizzle Sizzle’ sends up its flower stalks in spring, it often causes the tips of the leaves to brown. This is a natural occurrence. If you don’t want this to happen, simply remove the flower stalks as soon as they start to grow to prevent leaf tip browning.
Hardiness Zone: 8, 9, 10
Bloom Season: Spring, Summer
Sun Requirement: Full Sun, Partial Sun
Grows to: 12"
Minimum Temperature Indoors: 60°F
Plant Type: Easy Grower, Fragrant
Corkscrew albucas are bulbous perennial succulents. Clumps of 5 to 10 leaves grow from a single bulb that pokes out of the ground. The leaves are long, narrow, and green with an unusual spiral tip. Along the leaves are small glandular hairs that give the plant a velvety appearance. The plant has varying sizes, but it can grow up to 8 inches tall. (2,3)
An unusual plant, corkscrew albucas grow in winter and then becomes dormant during summer. When it enters dormancy, some of the leaves can turn yellow and fall off (4).
It could also lose all of its leaves and become ratty, but do not panic if it does. As long as the bulb is intact and firm, and the plant is healthy, it will be fine and revert back to its weirdly beautiful state come autumn (5).
During late winter, they become adorned with small delicate blooms. The flowers are a pale green color with yellow margins and grow from a long stalk at the center of the spiral leaves. They exude a sweet floral fragrance that smells like vanilla and butter (6). The flowers will last until mid-spring, and then the plant enters dormancy.
Albuca spiralis has one famous cultivar called ‘Frizzle Sizzle’. This cultivar is hardier and easier to grow.