1 I just love discovering a new flower. I bought two of these very odd plants at Terrain, in Westport, Connecticut. They were not flowering at the time, but after about three months a tall shoot sprouted up and lo and behold!
2 The leaves look almost like curly chives, in the Allium family, but the flower spike looks a lot like a frittileria in the family of Liliaceae.
3 The name of this plant is Albuca spiralis, and it is a native of South Africa. This species is a bulb that sends up very curly leaves and then, once a year, an unbranched flower scape.
4 I found two of these beauties at Terrain, planted in small metal pots. I had no idea that these lovely flowers would appear months after purchase, but one day, there they were, fragrant yellow bulbs on a single scape.
5 We mark as many of the plants in the greenhouses as we can. It's great to have identifying stakes in each plant so there is no question about identification.
6 Albuca spiralis love well-drained soil, and full-sun growing conditions. It is not a frost-hardy plant and must be grown indoors in the northeast.
7 The corkscrewed leaves are so special that this bulb could be grown for them alone!
8 The more sunlight the plant receives when the leaves are starting to grow, the curlier they will be.
9 These nodding flowers are actually pale green with pale yellow margins.
10 The flowers are sweetly scented with hints of butter and vanilla!
11 The fragrance is more pronounced on warm, sunny days.
12 This genus offers two flower styles - this nodding variety and an upward facing type.
13 Albuca flower colors range from white with yellow through to green, like this spiralis.
14 Albuca offers other leaf forms, as well.
15 In addition to this corkscrew shape, leaves can be boat-shaped, while others are narrow and wavy like a slithering snake.
16 Albuca spiralis is winter-growing and summer-dormant.
17 The plant will continue to bloom into spring.
18 As summer sets in, the plant goes dormant and the spiral leaves shrivel and die.
19 While dormant, the plant needs barely any water.
20 In early winter, watering can be started up again to generate new leaf growth.