Aloe polyphylla Schönland ex Pillans
Aloe polyphylla is a stemless succulent that usually has a solitary rosette up to 1 foot (30 cm) tall and up to 3 feet (90 cm) in diameter. The leaves are fleshy, soft green and arranged in a perfect spiral. Plants must reach at least 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter before they begin to spiral. This spiral may be clockwise or counter clockwise and is formed by 5 rows of up to 130 leaves. The leaves are broad at the base and taper to sharp, dark tip with irregular teeth along the margins. Mature plants send up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall, compact clusters of dull red to salmon-pink flowers at the head of robust, branched inflorescences.
USDA hardiness zone 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Spiral Aloe is one of the most ornamental Aloes but extremely difficult to grow in cultivation. Plants which have been removed from their habitat usually do not survive for more than a few years. It is a criminal offence to remove plants or seed of Spiral Aloe from the natural habitat or to buy plants from roadside vendors.
With a proper care, Spiral Aloe can be cultivated successfully outside of its native habitat. It is a fast-growing plant that can reach full size in 5 or 6 years. If plants don't receive proper growing conditions will die despite all efforts.
It needs well drained soil, and grows best on a steep slope. It prefers light shade and does not like really high temperatures. Plants need to be protected from hot temperatures and do most growing in spring and autumn. It might not thrive in consistently hot areas, especially if nights are also warm. Mature plants are said to handle 10°F (-12°C) as well as snow, although younger plants should be protected from hard freezes. Water moderately when in growth from spring to early autumn and very sparingly when dormant. Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer 2 or 3 times in the growing season.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for a Spiral Aloe.
Aloe polyphylla is native to Lesotho (Drakensberg mountains).
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