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How To Grow And Care For The Albuca Species

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I fell in love with the corkscrew leaves of the Albuca species and knew I had to add this to my plant collection.

Of course, living in Indiana it can be a bit difficult to obtain fresh seed from other countries, so I joined several plant societies including the Pacific Bulb Society in hopes of obtaining seeds.

I was able to obtain some seeds that were simply marked Albuca species short and Albuca species.

Here is my experience germinating Albuca species seeds and growing the plant in cultivation.

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How To Start Albuca From Seed

Albuca seed is short lived, so it needs to be less than six months old.

Seeds that are sown as soon as they are ripe often have a 100% germination rate.

Two clones are necessary in order for the plants to set seeds, but there are exceptions.

Sometimes when seed is desired, but there is one one clone, the pollen can be microwaved for 15 to 20 seconds, then mixed with fresh pollen.

This pollen mixture must be applied twice a day to the pistil for seven days – and then you wait to see if the cross was successful.

I was able to obtain fresh Abuca species short seed and also an Albuca species seed.

Here is how I chose to germinate them.

I laid seeds of Albuca species short on top of vermiculite in a peat pot on October 26.

The seeds germinated on November 1.

The regular Albuca species was also started in the same manner.

Those seeds germinated on October 31.

On average it takes three years for seed grown plants to flower.

How Do You Grow Albuca?

Albuca is a tough plant hailing from the desert region in South Africa.

A well drained potting mix is essential.

Most Albuca prefer to be grown in full sun, but there are a few exceptions to this rule.

They are not frost hardy, so need to be protected, even if it is only a light frost that is expected.

Albuca Varieties

Albuca is a genus of more than 100 species.

Most of them occur in South Africa.

All of them grow from bulbs and have a dormancy period where they lose their leaves after flowering.

Here are just a few of the varieties of Albuca you might want to grow:

  • Albuca abyssinica
  • Albuca acuminata
  • Albuca aurea
  • Albuca batteniana
  • Albuca cooperi
  • Albuca crispa
  • Albuca dilucula
  • Albuca fastigata
  • Albuca flaccida
  • Albuca hunilis
  • Albuca nelsonii
  • Albuca osmynella
  • Albuca pendula
  • Albuca secunda
  • Albuca setosa
  • Albuca shawii
  • Albuca suaveolens
  • Albuca tortuosa
  • Albuca unifolia

Albuca humilis

Albuca humilis is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 9a to 11.

It can be grown as an annual.

It prefers full sun, but does best if it receives some afternoon shade.

The height varies from 6 inches up to 12 inches.

It blooms from mid summer through early fall.

It is said to have a light fragrance, sometimes said to smell similar to marzipan, when it blooms.

It is winter dormant, so the leaves will dry up and fall off.

In the spring the bulb sends up long stems which bear one to three white-green flowers.

It is drought tolerant once established and thus suitable for xeriscaping.

Albuca humilis Care

When you first plant Albuca humilis, water it well to help it establish, then cut back on the watering.

Allow the soil to dry out between watering.

Keep the soil on the dry side during the winter dormant period so the bulb does not rot.

A good rule of thumb is to check the soil to see if watering is needed once every two weeks in the spring in summer, once every two months in autumn and to completely avoid watering during the winter months.

A good well draining succulent soil or a potting soil amended with sand or pumice is recommended.

Fertilize the plants once a year in early spring using the diluted recommendation on the fertilizer label.

Cut off any yellowing or dying foliage.

Normally this plant does not require repotting. 

It is also normally pest and disease free.

Albuca shawii 

Albuca shawii is native to South Africa’s Eastern Cape to Limpopo Province.

The flowers are yellow with green stripes for the most part, but can also be white.

The flowers have an almond or pineapple scent and the foliage has a slight licorice scent when crushed or rubbed.

It flowers in summer and prefers full sun.

It has a moderately fast growth rate but does need sandy, fertile, well-drained soil.

This plant is winter dormant.

Follow the care tips for Albuca humilis (above) and your plant should be happy.

Bulbs and Rhizomes

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