The Aloe Polyphylla "Spiral Aloe" sharp-edged thick leaves form a spiral either clockwise or anti-clockwise. They begin to spiral when they become from 8 to 12 inches (20 and 30 cm) in diameter. The Basotho people believe the direction of the spiral indicates the gender of the plant but in-fact the flowers are bisexual.
Each plant has about 150 leaves. That's why its name is "polyphylla". I.e. "poly" means "many" and "phylla" is a Greek word for "leaves".
Spiral Aloe is one of the fanciest Aloes and is also extremely difficult to grow. It usually dies after a few years if removed from their natural habitat. But if proper conditions are supplied, then it can be grown healthy. It matures in 5 to 6 years.
Mature Spiral Aloe can withstand up to 10°F (-12°C) and snow. But younger plants should be protected from hard freezes.
Full sun to partial shade
Grows in Spring and Fall
Not cold hardy
Not suited for indoor growing
Plant grows up to 12" (30.5 cm) tall
Plant grows up to 24" (61 cm) wide
Propagation by offsets and seeds
Toxic to humans and animals
Typical water needs for a succulent
Use regular succulent watering methods. Don't know? Learn how to water succulents easily.
Zone 10a (Minimum 30° F | -1.1° C)
Details about Aloe Polyphylla "Spiral Aloe"
General Care for Aloe polyphylla 'Spiral Aloe'
"Spiral Aloe" does well outdoors. But it is extremely difficult to cultivate. So it is best suited for professional growers. The propagation is also very difficult.
It actively grows from Spring to Fall. So do care a little extra in these seasons. You should also fertilize if possible, especially if growing in a container. It is dormant in Summer Months. So only water enough to keep it alive, otherwise, it won't need it.
Aloe polyphylla "Spiral Aloe" requires the typical succulent and cacti watering schedule. It is best to water once the soil is totally dry. Otherwise, its roots may rot in wet soil. You can check the soil by putting your finger into the soil about 2.5 inches deep. OR typically water after 4 to 7 days, depending on your environment conditions.
I've mentioned it all in the "How often to water succulents" guide.
It is a summer dormant plant and does require much water in this season, except in excessively hot and dry conditions.
Natural habitat (Plant Origin)
The natural habitat of Aloe polyphylla "Spiral Aloe" is "Lesotho mountain peaks", near South Africa. It hangs on to rocky cracks, in mountainous slopes with a lot of grass around. Sometimes, it comes under snow in the Winter season.
It is now a protected species, and taking it off from its native habitat OR buying from roadside vendors is now a criminal act.
Soil Need for Aloe polyphylla "Spiral Aloe" Plant
The rocky slopes give them well drainage with enough sunlight. So you'll also need the same type of excellent drainage soil for it to grow.
I've written an in-depth guide on preparing your perfect DIY succulent soil, where your plants will healthy and happy.
If you want to get pre-mixed succulent soil, you should check my comparison post about the best succulents and cacti soil in the market.
Transplanting and Care
Fertilizing Aloe polyphylla "Spiral Aloe"
In the active growing seasons, i.e. in the Spring and Fall, fertilize it slightly with a balanced liquid fertilizer in a month. As it dormant in the Summer months, so there will be no need for fertilizing.
Too much watering may cause fungal infection and its roots may rot as well. So try to never overwater.
The Spiral Aloe may attract Snout beetles and aphids.
Proper soil and watering schedules will prevent aphids. For Snout beetle prevention, water the plant with a systemic insecticide. The pests will consume it and will be vanished.
Is it Poisonous or Dangerous?
The Aloe polyphylla "Spiral Aloe" is considered to be a toxic plant for humans and pets. So be careful not to consume it.
The leaves are also very sharp and its sap can also irritating. So take care when handling them. You can use gloves.
Where to Plant
If you live in a colder environment, where temperature can go below 30 °F (-1.1 °C), You should plant it in a pot (better with a drainage hole). Because it is not cold hardy and you'll be able to bring it inside, especially if it is younger. But a mature plant can withstand up to 10°F (-12°C) hard freeze and snow.
In their natural habitat, it receives plenty of sunlight, but less water. So you'll need to keep it in a brighter area where it gets about 4 to 6 hours of sunlight.
How to Propagate Aloe polyphylla "Spiral Aloe"
Aloe polyphylla "Spiral Aloe" can be propagated easily by offsets and seeds.
Propagate by Offset
After a few years of growth, the "Spiral Aloe" produces small offsets along with its main plant. To propagate cut an offset from the base of the plant with a sharp knife, allow it to callous over for some days, then place it in well-draining soil. Give water when the soil is completely dried out.
Read more about the watering schedule for succulents babies at the last in how often to water succulents & cacti guide.
Propagate by Seeds
After a few years, some cool looking pink or red flowers may appear. These flowers will produce hundreds of seeds when pollinated. Spiral Aloe usually flowers in spring and early summer.
Take these seeds, and put them in a container filled with well-draining soil.
If you live in a hot environment, then place the pot outside, where its bed temperature will be hot. Otherwise, set it indoors, with the addition of bottom heat of some kind. Keep the medium moderately moist either way in bright light and where temperatures are ideally 75°F (23°C).
Aloe polyphylla "Spiral Aloe" propagation from seeds is considered difficult, but it is a game of patience.
Where to Buy?
The plant might be available in your local nurseries, and you can easily get it from:
Pairs Well With
- Sempervivum "Pacific Devil Food"
Image Credit: Flickr