Plant Profile- Frizzle Sizzle, Albuca spiralis
The Albuca spiralis is a unique indoor plant not only by how it looks but also inverts what we know of most indoor plants and their needs.
The nickname ‘Frizzle Sizzle’ is derived from the fuzzy-sticky glandulous hairs on the surface of the leaves and the inwardly curling corkscrew growth pattern. When the temperatures turn wintery, the Albuca spiralis will produce tiny dangling yellow flowers that give off a very pleasant, sweet vanilla and butter fragrance. It can also grow up to 20cm in height per season in the right conditions.
Position: Cool area but with access to bright direct sunlight in the autumn-winter cool months with indirect sunlight during the spring-summer hot ones. Albuca spiralis can be quite particular about where it grows so avoid drafty doorways or windows that will change the ambient temperature of the room dramatically.
Temperature: Shoots will form once ambient temperatures drop to around 10-15C in autumn. However, it will thrive in stable wintery temperatures and can even withstand short periods of light outdoor frost.
Unlike most succulents, the Albuca spiralis is not heat tolerant and the leaves will naturally die off during the warmer seasons. Being native to the South African desert where the leaves can easily burn up in the summer sun, going dormant is a means of conserving growing energy for a more temperate time of year.
Soil: As a succulent plant, the Albuca spiralis does require drier soil that is well draining with a large amount of Pumice. You can easily purchase succulent-specific soil from your local nursery.
The roots like space to grow and absorb water, so make sure the soil is not tightly compacted and won’t be restricted by the size of the pot.
Water: Albuca spiralis actually requires very little water in the summer months when it goes dormant. Although it can’t take the heat, Albuca spiralis plants are still extremely drought tolerant and can store water in the bulb when needed. Water whenever the subsoil feels dry to the touch or once every 2-3 weeks.
Having said that, it does require a lot of water during the growing season and watering should be increased to once a week. Be mindful that the soil does not become waterlogged and is still able to dry out in between watering sessions.
Problems and Solutions: As the Albuca spiralis moves into the dormant cycle, the leaves will start to crisp and brown. Growing indoors with constant ambient temperatures will likely extend the flowering stage, but it is essential for the flowers to drop off and the growth to die back to encourage more abundant and curlier foliage in the next cycle.
It is recommended that you remove the dead leaves so that when the plant is ready to start a new season it can regrow new, healthy shoots rather than reconstitute old ones. It will also keep the pot looking neat and tidy.
Plant an evergreen creeper such as a Golden Pothos or Peperomia String of Turtles around the Albuca spiralis so that when it dies back your pot doesn’t look empty. Just keep in mind that the pot must be large enough to comfortably house both plants.
You may enjoy reading about the monstera deliciosa.