My favorite onion relative has started blooming again! Schizobasis intricata is a small, well behaved plant that is undeniably unique. The base is a swollen caudex, reportedly up to 2 inches in diameter. Mine are much smaller; about an inch. Originally it was a single bulb, but about a year ago another smaller bulb poked it’s top out of the sand.
From the top of each bulb sprouts a delicate, but wiry, bright green tendril. Every inch or so it splits at a sharp angle, and each new tendril continues to split at regular intervals. At just a few inches above the base, the mass of green becomes a tangle reminiscent of Cosmo Kramer. The flowers of S intricata appear at the end of a tendril, and are very small. The petals are waxy and white, and have no smell that I can detect.
The flowers are self fertile, so a single plant will produce viable seed. I have been able to collect a dozen seeds or so, but the past few months haven’t seen any flowers that produce any fruit. Hopefully this new round of blooms will see a change in that!
I have been able to entice it into blooming every few months by giving it a dry cycle after a flush of blooms. After the flowers are spent, I stop watering altogether until the bulb itself is fairly shriveled and brown. At that point the tendrils are dry and brown as well, and I cut them off at the base. Once a few weeks of this drags on, I start watering again religiously but sparingly. My soil mix is extremely fast draining, so it doesn’t sit in water for more than a few minutes. Reliably, it starts to send out it’s chartreuse fingers in search of the sun (in my case it’s t5 lights) and with them follows the flowers.
I hope this inspires you to take another look at your overlooked Schizobasis… or maybe even consider growing one! It is very easy, and isn’t something you’re likely to see everyday.