Caring for your Frizzle Sizzle: Is It Really Dead?

Written ByJen Greene

Posted: August 9, 2021

The Frizzle Sizzle is one of those plants that probably should come with WAY better directions than they do. 

Every year, usually in winter and spring, new batches of them are released into retail nurseries and everyone gets excited about their new little ridiculous plant. And they are ridiculous, and cool! But inevitably, everyone runs into the same issue, no matter how well they’re taking care of the plant.

Every summer, the frizzle sizzle dies and it’s terrible and people throw out their crispy plants and vow never again. 

but…that’s kind of their normal thing. They come back in winter. These plants always go dormant in summer; it’s a common survival tactic for African species, particularly bulbs.

Basic Care for Albuca Spiralis

I grabbed my first Frizzle Sizzle in 2018, and have had it thriving for me since!

They are genuinely easy plants to care for, but the struggle ends up being trying to make them fit into conditions that they just won’t thrive in. They need very bright light, similar to a succulent, and will amost never thrive long term indoors if treated like a houseplant. If you’ve been able to successfully grow succulents on your windowsills, these will likely do just as well.

When they’re growing, you’ll want to water them regularly, likely on a similar schedule as your Echeverias or other soft succulents. If you’re not sure that the soil has dried enough, wait – these are plants that grow in the deserts of South Africa, and they store plenty of extra water in their bulbs.

Pot in a well draining succulent soil, maybe with a bit of extra pumice if your blend doesn’t already have a decent amount (if you’re using something as heavily organic as Miracle Gro, mix it with about 50% pumice). Try to avoid heavily overpotting the plant, as the roots won’t expand much and absorb water. Too much room in the pot will make your frizzle sizzle more prone to rot.

Growth Cycle

The photo at right is how these typically look every summer when grown bright and hot enough for nice, tight curly que leaves. I consider this the typical “starting point” for their growth cycle; the ones you see at the store are plants that have just woken up. At least half of the year, if grown outside, they’ll probably look like this.

The one at right is my 3-headed Frizzle Sizzle, grown in nearly full sun most of the year. This is the typical scene for it every July and August, or even June if it’s been a hot year. It’ll stay this way until probably November or December at least. 

frizzle sizzle dormancy
young frizzle sizzle

At right is the same plant blooming! This is from April, 2018, and you can see the leaves already beginning to crisp and die.

The Albuca spiralis plant grows by using the leaves to generate energy that goes into the bulb that is the heart of the plant.

Every year, it produces new leaves that both add energy to the bulb as well as help stimulate the growth of the bloom stalk and, if the plant is lucky, seed pods.

Once it’s finished the blooms and seed pods, the summer months are usually approaching, so the plant lets its green growth fully die back and the dessicated leaves cover the top of the bulb. By going dormant in summer, the plant can preserve energy and not have to try to protect its leaves during the harshest time of year.

You’ll still need to water the albuca during the dormancy period, but the amount is much less. I basically splash mine every couple weeks, and keep it shaded until I see new growth emerging. 

At left is the same plant when I first brought it home in January 2018. One head, nice tight curls, and even the barest hint of a flower bud beginning. 

This is probably how you will find your Albuca spiralis at the store or nursery, although the time of year is probably influenced by local growers in your region. For me, it’s always December through March that we see these available. 

It takes at least a month or two of the colder, wetter winter weather for a dormant bulb to start throwing up new growth. It only produces one set of leaves and growth per year, so if your plant ends up stretching or not getting nice tight curls, you’ll have to wait an entire year for it to try again. 

frizzle sizzle bloom

Frizzle Sizzle Growth – 2019 

albuca spiralis

January 2019. The new growth is a bit stretched compared to the previous year, due to being in a shadier spot by our front patio. 

albuca spiralis bloom

Bloom coming in, March 2019. 

I think it’s actually two bloom heads, which was the precursor to discovering this had become a two headed plant.

And the bloom stalks! 

It was two, which did mean that it had split into two bulbs. 

You’ll notice the growth is a bit more compact, and that it didn’t stretch further – I moved the pot to a sunnier part of the patio for this portion of the year. 

The blooms were this developed in April, 2019 – within a couple weeks, they were opening and cute. 

large frizzle sizzle
albuca spiralis bloom

At left is my mom’s Frizzle Sizzle, which as you can see, shared a pot with several other plants. She had it extremely overpotted and with a lot of the bulb appearing above the soil, but it didn’t seem to mind – it was absolutely massive! 

Interestingly, hers was still green and producing new growth + blooms in October, which was very strange compared to mine. 

I don’t remember if hers had come to her at that size, or if she’d grown it that large in a single season, but the growing conditions probably contributed to the out of season growth. I’m not sure, but I don’t think this plant is still alive at her place, so this may have preceded a planty crash.

2020 & 2021 

Albuca spiralis

With the move to a brighter spot, the growth stayed compact and very tightly curled. 

In this area, it also occasionally received fertilizer in the form of diluted fish emulsion and dedicated cactus fertilizer. 

The photo at right is from February, 2021. 

In 2020, I moved this plant to a terra cotta pot (it was clearly outgrowing the square pot), and managed to stab it with my gardening tines. 

I wasn’t sure if it would survive, but it has! 

I have no pictures of the 2019/2020 growth season, but this is the beginning of the 2020/2021 season. The photo at left is from November, 2020, to give you an idea of when baby growth emerged last year. 

I had it in a shady spot on a different patio to go through the summer with some water, but not too much, and moved it out to more sun once the new growth emerged. 

jumbo albuca spiralis
albuca spiralis bloom

Initial blooms, April 2021. 

frizzle sizzle blooms

Blooms finishing, May 2021. 

Notice the curls crisping up; from here, it was a rapid decline to summer dormancy. 

frizzle sizzle dormancy

And full circle – back to how it looks today. 

I’ve moved it into the greenhouse, in a highly shaded spot, where it can hang out until winter weather comes along. I am not sure if it will thrive in greenhouse conditions, as it seems to do best when it gets colder nights in winter. 

Mine has been hailed on multiple times (2018 & 2021), and is completely unfazed by our regular nights in the mid 30s during the coldest time of year. Often, the coldest time of year is when it looks best! 

As a result, the greenhouse is probably not ideal for winter, but for summer dormancy it should do the trick. 

Follow along on Instagram to see daily updates of plants like the frizzle sizzle! @TrexPlants 

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