Blooming Potential in Succulents

Echeveria 'Topsy Turvy' flower.
While many of my inside plants got to play outside for the summer, a few hung out on the light table. Two are blooming now!

Echeveria runyonii ‘Topsy Turvy’, which I bought last November, sent up a shoot in early September and has been putting on a show for weeks, each flower, from the bottom up, opening slower than a striptease.

It's a busy time of year for plants. Some have already been brought indoors, as others hover in plant purgatory, waiting to make as sure as I can that they don't have bugs. 

I've dosed anything that is remotely a candidate for wintering indoors with a systemic insecticide. There, I've admitted it. The sprinkle-on-the-top-of-the-soil-and-water-in product is just part of the arsenal of prevention I engage in throughout the winter. 

Meet Sandy, wintertime host of Albuca spiralis.
Yes, I'll admit that, in my heart, indoor plants are a tad more valuable that the ones I've left outside to fend for themselves--even the hardy ones. Those are like the Cubs to a life-long fan--not expecting much but a happy surprise if they're successful. 

Back to the indoor candidates and graduates. One I brought back with me from Arizona, called Albuca spiralis 'Frizzle Sizzle', pretended to bite the dust in late spring, but valiantly began to sprout little stems from the top of what looks like a bald bulb, somewhat like Ryne Sandberg, only with a bright green scalp. 

I'm enthusiastic about 'Frizzle Sizzle', not just because of its cool name, but because it turns out it did what it was supposed to in summer. It went dormant. That is, its leaves fell off and it just sat there and did nothing. It's winter-growing, you see, and according to Fred Dortort in The Timber Press Guide to Succulent Plants of the World, it produces dramatically spiraled rosette of narrow leaves around the time is spring flowers begin to fade. 

Albuca spiralis sprouts from its little green "head."
It didn't flower last spring, probably because I ripped the poor thing from the Arizona climate in the middle of winter. It spent the past seven months recuperating from the shock. Albuca spiralis, which shares a family with asparagus, is from South Africa, a place I've become particularly interested in for its really cool plants.

Faucaria tigrina shares a pot with other succulents.
Another South African plant is Faucaria tigrina, also known as tiger's jaws, or shark's jaws. It lived indoors during the summer, and was therefore kept bug-free, green and compact with the lights close above the pot. It's a pretty fast grower, and soon will outgrow its container.

Many plants won't bloom until they're pot bound, and it could be true with tiger's jaws. It shares a small terracotta container with several small succulents, but that didn't stop it from sprouting bright yellow flowers that demand attention. They close up at night or when I turn the lights out. 

Faucaria tigrina in bloom.

Even though November is breathing down our necks, I'm getting little signs of spring, thanks to plants from another part of the world.

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