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Turquoise Puya

Aloe polyphylla

One of nature's amazing works of art!  Aloe polyphylla is a rare beauty with a spellbinding spiral statement!  This unique succulent grows to 3 feet across, with dozens of overlapping leaves that spiral either clockwise or counter-clockwise.  Unfortunately it is an endangered species that is threatened with extinction in its homeland of southern Africa.  This is a must-have for collectors of stunning plants!  Fake seeds of it are being distributed from China.  I guarantee that my plants are genuine!

Spiral Aloe

A left-turning spiral

Aloe polyphylla is a fast-growing species that can reach full size in 5 or 6 years.  The leaves hold a considerable amount of water, so they are quite plump.  At about 2 years old, the leaves begin to spiral either to the right or to the left, when viewed from above.  The spiraling arrangement gives the leaves maximum light exposure in the least amount of space.  In Spring, it makes a beautiful, 2 foot-tall flower stalk.  The plant comes from the mountains of Lesotho, which is a small country within South Africa.  It has been dwindling in numbers due to over-harvesting, and because its only pollinator, a local species of bird, is also in decline.

Spiral Aloe

Flowering in the Spring

Aloe polyphylla comes from very high elevations, where the climate is cool, and nights are cooler.  It does best in mild temperatures, with growth slowing or stopping when temperatures get above 85F (29C).  It might not thrive in consistently hot areas, especially if nights are warm (over 65F / 18C).  Mature plants reportedly can handle a few degrees of frost, as well as snow, although younger plants should be protected from freezes.  It grows well in a pot, and can be moved indoors for the winter.  Outside, it enjoys full sun here in cool San Francisco.  It might need some afternoon shade in hotter areas.

Aloe polyphylla

A right-turning spiral

Since the plant comes from high-rainfall areas, it appreciates consistent moisture during the summer months.  It does best in very well-draining soil that is free of lime.  A typical mix is 1 part potting soil, 1 part pumice rock or lava rock, and 1 part perlite or horticultural sand.  This plant is not difficult to grow provided that its basic needs are met.

 

 

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