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Aloe polyphylla (Spiral Aloe)

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Scientific Name

Aloe polyphylla Schönland ex Pillans

Common Names

Spiral Aloe

Scientific Classification

Family: Asphodelaceae
Subfamily: Asphodeloideae
Tribe: Aloeae
Genus: Aloe

Description

Aloe polyphylla is a stemless succulent that forms a rosette of leaves arranged in a perfect spiral. The rosette grows up to 1 foot (30 cm) tall and up to 2 feet (60 cm) in diameter. Leaves are fleshy, soft green, broad at the base, and taper to sharp, dark tip with irregular teeth along the margins. The plant must reach at least 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter before spiraling. The spiral may be clockwise or counterclockwise. In spring and early summer, mature plants produce compact clusters of dull red to salmon-pink (occasionally yellow) flowers at the head of branched inflorescences about 2 feet (60 cm) above the foliage.

Hardiness

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 that have been removed from their habitat usually do not survive for more than a few years. It is a criminal offense to remove plants or seed of Spiral Aloe from the natural habitat or to buy plants from roadside vendors.

With 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 fall. It might not thrive in consistently hot areas, especially if nights are also warm. Mature plants are said to handle 10°F (-12°C) and snow, although younger plants should be protected from hard freezes. Water moderately when in growth from spring to early fall 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).

Origin

Aloe polyphylla is native to Lesotho (Drakensberg mountains).

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