Aloe polyphylla Schönland ex Pillans
Aloe polyphylla is a stemless succulent that forms a rosette of green 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 soft, juicy, broad at the base, tapering to a dark, sharp tip, and with irregular teeth along the margins. Before spiraling, the rosette must reach at least 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. The spiral may be clockwise or counterclockwise. In spring and early summer, the mature rosette produces 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.
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 is extremely difficult to grow in cultivation. Plants removed from their habitat usually do not survive for more than a few years. It is a criminal offense to remove plants or seeds of Spiral Aloe from the natural habitat or buy plants from roadside vendors.
Spiral Aloe can be cultivated successfully outside of its native habitat with proper care. 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 growing 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 Aloe.
This species is native to Lesotho (Drakensberg mountains).
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