This psychedelic succulent seems to be prefer it’s from one other planet! With its enchanting geometric spirals and compact evergreen progress behavior, spiral aloe is a houseplant lover’s dream. This distinctive and uncommon succulent is thought for its excellent spiral-shaped leaves that kind a beautiful rosette. In its native vary in Lesotho, Africa, this plant faces extinction, and cultivating it may assist protect vital plant biodiversity.
It’s tailored to colder areas than many different succulents can stand up to. The reasonably sized vegetation are extremely easygoing, asking for little greater than a gravelly, well-drained soil and the occasional sip of water. This African native plant may be grown outdoor in USDA zones 7 by means of 11, making it the right addition to rock gardens and succulent containers.
Let’s dig into every little thing it’s essential to find out about rising this putting spiralized aloe!
Historical past and Cultivation
Spiral aloe is a really uncommon and strikingly lovely plant native to a mountainous area of southern Africa. The plant is at risk of extinction within the wild because of over-harvesting and overgrazing. The vegetation are often propagated from offsets and seeds. To make issues worse, the native chook species that pollinates the plant can be declining, making it troublesome for vegetation to propagate within the wild.
It’s essential to buy from a sustainable and moral supply and by no means help importers of this wild endangered plant. Buying vegetation or seeds illegally faraway from the wild is against the law, so you should definitely verify that your supply is respected earlier than buying. Higher but, you possibly can be taught to propagate it beneath to broaden your assortment and naturally broaden the inhabitants to share together with your backyard pals.
What’s Spiral Aloe?
Also referred to as Aloe polyphylla, this beautiful spiny succulent has leaves that radiate from a rosette in a spiraling fractal sample. It’s notably in style for temperate rock gardens as a result of it might stand up to frost, in contrast to lots of its succulent cousins. This species is taken into account hardy outdoor in zones 7-11.
Spiral aloe grows in a compact, excellent spiral that attracts the eyes into awe. Every row of spirals accommodates between 15 and 30 sharp, symmetrical leaves that will radiate in a clockwise or counterclockwise sample. Leaves happen in 5 ranks or tiers. The species identify, polyphylla, means “many leaves” as a result of every mature plant has roughly 150 leaves.
The thick, fleshy leaves are greenish-gray and lined with pale inexperienced or white spines alongside the perimeters. The leaves have a darkish purple terminal spike on the tip. Rosettes can attain as much as 24” throughout and bloom reddish-orange flowers within the spring or summer season.
The place Does It Originate?
Spiral aloe is native to high-altitude grasslands of the Drakensberg and Maluti Mountain ranges of Lesotho, Africa. This uncommon plant will not be recognized to happen naturally anyplace else. Lesotho is a small, landlocked nation surrounded by South Africa.
The intense pinkish-red and orangish-yellow flowers of Aloe polyphylla are the nationwide flower of Lesotho. The plant is usually referred to as the “gem of Drakensberg” or kroonaalwyn, which means “crown aloe.” Indigenous teams use the plant for tribal medicinal ceremonies and magic referred to as Muthi.
In its authentic surroundings, this succulent prefers basalt rock and gravelly crevices on steep slopes. It thrives with reasonable moisture, heat climate, distinctive drainage, and low fertility. The mountainous area the place it grows wild additionally experiences chilly nights, so this succulent is customized to extra temperate areas of america as effectively.
Whereas propagation from seed is greatest, it could be attainable to develop this plant from pups (offsets) or cuttings. This succulent will not be as straightforward to propagate as different aloes in your assortment, however with a bit persistence, you possibly can be taught to copy the beautiful fractal spirals as many instances as wanted.
You will need to propagate this uncommon plant by yourself as a result of it’s troublesome to acquire specimens and is endangered within the wild. Worldwide commerce or illegally buying vital vegetation can get you in huge bother. The vegetation can be costly.
In case you can’t discover transplants at your native nursery, the seeds are usually extra accessible from on-line unique seed sources. The seeds are pretty tiny and sometimes are available small portions, so it’s greatest to sow them in pots to make sure the best germination charge attainable.
Nevertheless, you don’t wish to maintain the seeds excessively heat, as you may with different succulents. As a substitute, they like to germinate at roughly room temperature or 60-70°F.
To sow spiral aloe seeds:
- Fill small 3 or 4” pots with a succulent soil mix that’s excessive in perlite and gravel for drainage.
- Make a shallow gap within the soil and sow one seed per pot.
- Press the seed into the soil floor and really barely cowl with a dusting of sandy soil.
- Keep away from burying too deep, because the seeds want some gentle to germinate.
- Rigorously water in with a sprig bottle mister, taking care to not flood or displace the seeds.
- Maintain the seeds moist however not moist till they sprout. Don’t let the soil dry out.
- Place in an space with shiny daylight or a develop gentle. Keep away from tremendous excessive temperatures.
- Wait 1-3 weeks till the infant succulents sprout.
Alternatively, some folks efficiently germinate the seeds in moist paper towels after which transplant them into the soil.
The primary leaves ought to seem as a fleshy pair of cotyledons. Inside a couple of weeks, they are going to begin trying extra like aloe vegetation. The spiralized sample doesn’t develop till no less than 6-10 leaves have grown. Preserving the younger vegetation in containers is vital till they’ve a longtime root system.
Some sources insist that spiral aloe doesn’t produce pups like different succulents, whereas different gardeners say they’ve seen offsets develop from the bottom of their vegetation. Whereas I’ve by no means seen pups on this plant, some might produce them.
Maybe many people haven’t seen pups develop from spiral aloe as a result of our vegetation are too younger. If yours reaches a mature age over 3-4 years outdated and has all its wants met, it could create offsets. You may propagate offsets like different succulents by lifting and dividing them from the mom plant.
To take away and transplant offsets:
- Find a reasonably sized “pup” no less than 3-4” in diameter close to the bottom of a wholesome mom plant.
- Put on gloves, because the leaves may be sharp.
- Use a sterile knife and trowel to softly loosen the soil across the base of the offset and reduce it from the principle plant.
- Make sure the offset has loads of leaves and wholesome roots connected to it.
- Shake away the soil and permit the reduce portion to callous over for a couple of days whereas holding it in a dry, dim space.
- Transplant into well-drained soil similar to the mom and supply small quantities of moisture for the primary few weeks.
As soon as once more, slicing propagation of this plant is a little bit of an issue. Some gardeners say it’s unattainable, whereas others have had success. If you wish to strive it, maintain your expectations low as a result of its leaves usually are not as desirous to sprout roots as these of its succulent cousins. Nonetheless, seeing in case your mature plant can yield extra cousins from its wholesome leaves is value a shot.
To take aloe cuttings:
- Discover a wholesome, shiny inexperienced leaf on the decrease spiral of a mature plant.
- Put on gloves and seize the sharp outer leaf from the bottom.
- Gently wiggle the leaf till it detaches from the middle of the plant. If it doesn’t readily detach, use a sanitized knife to chop it away from the mom.
- Place the leaf on a paper towel and permit the reduce finish to callous over in a dim space.
- Wait a couple of days. It’s essential that the leaf “butt” is calloused so it doesn’t rot once you put it within the soil.
- Put together shallow pots with a mix of gravelly, sandy, or perlite-rich soil mix.
- Bury the calloused base of the leaf an inch or so within the soil, urgent it in place.
- Use a mister bottle to maintain the bottom of the plant moist however not soggy.
- Place in a shiny spot with oblique daylight.
- Wait a number of weeks till roots develop.
- After a month, give the slicing a delicate yank to see if it has rooted. At this level, you possibly can slowly introduce it to full daylight and transplant into a bigger container.
Alternatively, you possibly can mist the bottom of a calloused leaf slicing whereas it’s nonetheless on the paper towel and place it in oblique daylight to see if it’s going to produce roots.
Planting requires sturdy gloves just like the Felco 701 Backyard Gloves. This plant is significantly sharp, and the sap could also be irritating if it will get in your pores and skin!
As soon as your arms are protected, the principle key to success is holding the bottom of the plant on the identical soil degree because it was in its container. Burying any deeper may cause issues with rot.
Find out how to Transplant
Relocating a spiral aloe is simple however not at all times as straightforward because it seems to be. Transfer fastidiously, or this plant will actually beat up your pores and skin! Dig a large circumference across the root base to attenuate disturbance, and use a shovel to carry it from the bottom. If transplanting from a pot, therapeutic massage the container to loosen the roots earlier than eradicating them from the pot.
Loosen the soil and put together a gap about 1.5 instances deeper and wider than the present root ball. Make sure the roots are unfold horizontally and down into the soil to encourage growth into the brand new house. Place the plant inside and gently backfill to cowl the roots with out getting soil on the decrease leaves.
Aloe polyphylla needs to be planted no less than 24” from neighboring vegetation. Some landscapers favor wider spacing of 3-4 ft to permit the plant to unfold to its full abundance. The mature spiral might attain as much as 2 ft in diameter and 1 foot tall.
Find out how to Develop
In case you have efficiently grown Aloe vera or different succulents, you shouldn’t have any downside with this spiralized cousin. This species wants barely extra moisture than different cultivars and tolerates colder temperatures, making it appropriate for rock gardens in areas as cool as hardiness zone 7.
Spiral aloe enjoys a fan of full solar however doesn’t want scorching direct gentle like many different succulents. In scorching climates, partial afternoon shade is good.
About 6 hours of morning or night daylight retains this fractal magnificence rising to its fullest potential. It does high-quality beneath the dappled shade of mid-sized shrubs or cacti. If rising indoors, a south-facing or west-facing window is nice.
With its fleshy leaves and southern African roots, it’s no shock that this plant is fairly drought-tolerant. The commonest mistake new growers make is overwatering this succulent. Nevertheless, it does take pleasure in extra water than desert succulents.
The simplest technique to keep away from overwatering is by rising in further gravelly soil and checking the soil earlier than irrigating. The roots might succumb to root-rotting fungus in the event that they sit in water too lengthy. The soil ought to totally dry out between each watering. If it nonetheless feels moist, don’t water it!
If rising outdoor, supplemental water is often pointless within the fall and winter whereas the plant is semi-dormant. In areas the place you get rainfall all year long, it’s greatest to develop spiral aloe in a container that may be introduced beneath a patio to guard it from rain storms. Indoor vegetation take pleasure in a pleasant drink, and it is best to present water till it flows out of the drainage gap into the catchment tray. Then, you possibly can let the soil dry for a number of days or one week (relying on situations) earlier than watering once more.
Spiral aloe naturally grows in rocky basalt crevices on steep slopes. The unfastened rock ensures steady drainage so the roots by no means sit in moist situations. Basalt additionally makes the soil barely acidic, so you will need to verify that your soil pH will not be too alkaline.
Including high-quality gravel, perlite, pumice, or lava rock can enhance the aeration and acidity. This succulent thrives in rock gardens and areas with sandy or gravelly textures. You may also buy a pre-made soil mix made particularly for succulents and cacti.
Local weather and Temperature
Whereas many succulents are accustomed to excessive warmth, and a few are considerably cold-hardy, this aloe is greatest suited to milder and even temperate situations. It naturally grows in mountainous areas of Lesotho, tolerating pretty chilly nights. Nevertheless, it can not deal with excessive frost or excessive warmth. It’s best saved at temperatures between 40° and 85°F.
Some growers in zones 7 and eight report that mature vegetation can deal with slight frost if rising in a rock backyard that retains warmth by means of the evening. They’ll even stay evergreen beneath slight snow so long as they’re absolutely established earlier than publicity to chilly climate.
Safety from excessive humidity and excessive wind is crucial. Crops can blow over in harsh storms. In very humid climates, it’s greatest saved as a houseplant in dryer areas of the house.
You do not want to fertilize as a result of this species naturally grows in low-fertility, sandy soil. Some container growers feed it a balanced slow-release fertilizer as soon as per yr within the spring to attempt to encourage flowering.
There’s not a lot it’s essential to do to take care of spiral aloe, because the plant is sort of sturdy and self-sustaining. In case you discover any withered or diseased leaves, take away them with gloves and a pointy, sanitized knife. If the plant begins to yellow or wilt, you might want to look at the roots for indicators of rot and take the suitable steps to treatment it.
The magical spiral aloe belongs to the species Aloe polyphylla. Resulting from its rarity and pure magnificence, the plant has not been hybridized or altered in any method.
The beautiful magical fractals of this plant completely complement different aloes and succulents in a houseplant association or rock backyard planting. You may develop Aloe polyphylla alongside any plant that enjoys gravelly, poor soil and grows in zones 8-11.
Agave vegetation are available many sizes and styles, however all of them are inclined to take pleasure in rocky, sandy soil and rare watering. A planting of Parry’s agave or Agave potatorum rosettes seems to be beautiful alongside this spiralized aloe.
The Sedum or stonecrop genus consists of over 500 species of succulent low-growing vegetation that look phenomenal alongside Aloe polyphylla. A creeping species like Sedum album or Sedum angelina would make a terrific floor cowl beneath spiral aloe in a container or border mattress.
Blue echeveria (Echeveria glauca) has putting purplish-blue leaves with ruffly rosettes that create a spiralized polka-dot impact when planted with spiral aloe. These succulents each favor gravelly soil and rare watering.
We will’t neglect spiral aloe’s well-known medicinal cousin, Aloe vera. In case you present no less than 18-24” of house between these vegetation, they are going to gladly develop outdoor in a rock backyard or close to one another in a big container.
Pests and Illnesses
This uncommon unique aloe is remarkably resilient and just about problem-free. The one points you want to concentrate on are the occasional sucking insect and rotting points brought on by overwatering.
Aphids, Scale Bugs, and Mealybugs
You’ll be very fortunate to develop succulents with out encountering no less than one concern with these tiny sap-sucking bugs. Aphids seem like tiny oval-shaped white or inexperienced bugs on the undersides of aloe leaves. Scale bugs are even smaller and should trigger a white, powdery look on the foliage. Mealybugs are fluffy and white, gathering in clusters close to the bottom of the leaves.
All these bugs are greatest eradicated with a agency wiping of diluted neem oil answer. Whereas some aphid infestations are handled by spraying with a blast of water, I wouldn’t advocate this for succulents as a result of extreme moisture and humidity may cause illness points.
Overwatering or poorly drained soil are key causes of rotten roots in all aloe vegetation. The bottom of the plant might start trying pale or yellow. Leaves might flip yellow and develop into wilted or floppy as a result of they aren’t getting sufficient moisture. This paradox happens as a result of the extreme soggy situations result in the event of a root fungus that inhibits the plant from uptaking water.
To keep away from root rot, use extraordinarily well-drained soil totally amended with perlite, sand, gravel, or pumice. If rot has already taken maintain, you might be able to save the plant by fastidiously digging it up (bear in mind to put on gloves when dealing with), pruning away the contaminated items of roots, and replanting in better-draining situations.
Keep away from watering till the soil has totally dried out.
Plant Makes use of
Spiral aloe is a uncommon succulent primarily used as an unique, mystical accent in rock gardens, succulent containers, and houseplant shows. The plant is native to Lesotho in southern Africa and was utilized in tribal drugs and non secular ceremonies. The sap irritates the pores and skin and shouldn’t be used as a alternative for Aloe vera gel.
This uniquely psychedelic-looking succulent differs barely from its cousins as a result of it tolerates colder temperatures and doesn’t take pleasure in excessive warmth. Be aware of its mountainous residence with gravelly, well-drained sloped soils and reasonable summer season rainfall.
Water the plant when the soil dries out and keep away from excessive wind or rain publicity. Keep in mind that spiral aloe could be very uncommon and particular. Purchase seeds from a good supply, and for those who go to Lesotho, by no means take away the plant or any of its elements from the wild.