Aloe polyphylla, also known as the spiral aloe plant, many-leaved aloe, kroonaalwyn, lekhala kharetsa, or just spiral succulent, is an ornamental houseplant with dark green, long and thin leaves that are spiraled around the stem, creating a snake-like look.
This attractive succulent plant not only has nice foliage but can produce small orange flowers from fall to spring as well.
One of the most beautiful, unusual, and awe-inspiring plants on the planet is Aloe polyphylla.
A spiral aloe plant may not be the typical looking houseplant, but this unique and rare type of aloe plant has its own fascinating story to tell that you won’t hear about from other types of plants.
It’s an unusual and fascinating plant that makes an excellent addition to any succulent collection or as a houseplant. However, it does require special care and attention if you want to keep it alive and healthy indoors all year round.
If you’re ready to make your home look like the habitat of an unusual houseplant, we’ll show you how to grow an Aloe polyphylla (spiral aloe plant) today!
Origin and distribution
Aloe polyphylla is a succulent plant that originates from the Lesotho mountains in Southern Africa. The scientific name for this plant is Aloe polyphylla, and it is also known as kroonaalwyn, lekhala kharetsa, and many-leaved aloe. This plant prefers to grow in rocky, well-drained soil in full sun.
In its natural habitat, it will reach heights of 1.5 meters or more. It has dark green leaves with light green stripes on the margins that grow spirally on long stems. The flowers are usually white or pinkish with green stripes on their petals and bloom from June through August.
These plants can be propagated by dividing up clumps into smaller pieces with at least one leaf attached. They can also be grown from seed which must be collected and dried before planting.
Aloe polyphylla does not need any special care besides occasional watering when needed during the dry season. If you have this type of aloe, then keep your eye out for signs of rust or anthracnose which are both fungal diseases that can cause damage to your plant if left untreated.
Aloe polyphylla propagation
Aloe polyphylla is best propagated by seed. Sow the seeds in late winter or early spring, just below the surface of the soil. Keep the soil moist but not wet and provide plenty of light.
The seeds should germinate within two to three weeks. Once they have germinated, transplant the seedlings into individual pots and grow them for a few months before planting them out in their permanent positions. Kroonaalwyn grows best in full sun with well-drained soil.
Lekhala kharetsa prefers half-day sun with sandy soils that are rich in organic matter. Many-leaved aloe needs very little water and can be grown as a houseplant too! Grow this species indoors only if you’re willing to provide ample moisture year-round.
Aloe polyphylla care instructions
The Aloe polyphylla plant is a slow-growing plant that can live up to 100 years old. The leaves of the plant are arranged in a spiral pattern and can grow up to two feet long.
The flowers of the plant are yellow and blooming typically occurs in the summertime. When taking care of an Aloe polyphylla plant, be sure to provide bright light and well-draining soil.
This aloe prefers full sun to partial shade, however, it will tolerate some shade. It’s a good idea to give it some protection from the hottest afternoon sun, especially in the summer. If you live in a hot climate, morning sun and afternoon shade would be ideal.
In cooler climates, this plant can handle more sun. It needs winter protection if grown outside where temperatures go below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
A well-draining potting mix is essential for aloe polyphylla, as the plant does not like to sit in wet soil. A cactus or succulent potting mix will do the trick, or you can make your own by mixing together one part of perlite or sand with two parts of potting soil. Be sure to add a layer of gravel to the bottom of the pot for drainage.
The spiral aloe plant should be planted deep enough so that there are roots on the surface and at least half an inch of dirt covering them.
When watering your spiral aloe plant, make sure to give it a good soaking. Allow the water to run through the leaves and down into the pot. Be sure to empty out any water that remains in the saucer after a few minutes. Water only when the soil is dry to the touch; over-watering can lead to root rot. Water early in the day so that the leaves have time to dry before nightfall.
This aloe does best with a fertilizer high in phosphorus. This can be in the form of a bone meal or a water-soluble fertilizer that has been diluted by half. Apply the fertilizer every two to three weeks during the growing season. Avoid fertilizing during the winter months.
Too much fertilizer will cause the leaves to turn yellow. If this happens, stop using fertilizer for four weeks and then resume again as instructed above. If it is too late and your plant is already turning yellow, use a 50% solution of potassium sulfate mixed with water.
The temperature for an Aloe polyphylla should be between 68-74 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature gets too low, the leaves will start to turn brown and if the temperature gets too high, the leaves will start to turn yellow. The ideal temperature for this plant is 72 degrees Fahrenheit. If you can not provide this range of temperatures, it is best to not have this plant.
Aloe polyphylla requires high humidity to thrive. Mist the leaves regularly, and set the pot on a tray of pebbles and water to increase the humidity around the plant. They also need more sun than other aloes.
The ideal humidity range is between 50-90%. The spiral shape of the leaves is designed to help them capture fog in their native habitat which helps with their natural moisture retention. In general, these plants should be misted at least once per day.
The spiral aloe is a beautiful, unique plant that does best with proper pruning. When you first get your plant, give it a good trimming to help it establish its shape. You can then prune it every few months to keep it healthy and growing well. To prune, simply cut off any dead or dying leaves and stems. You can also remove any leaves that are growing in an undesirable direction. Be sure not to trim too much at once; only do so when necessary.
When to repot
The best time to repot your aloe plant is in the spring before it starts to actively grow. If your plant is pot-bound (the roots are crowded and the plant is not growing), it will need to be repotted.
You’ll also need to repot if the potting mix has broken down and is no longer providing adequate drainage. Finally, if you notice that your plant is rootbound, it’s time for a new pot.
Most plants enter a state of dormancy during the winter months in order to protect themselves from the cold weather. This means that they will stop growing and their leaves will fall off. Spiral aloe is no different, and in fact, this is the best time to propagate the plant.
Simply cut off a healthy leaf and allow it to callous over for a few days before planting it in well-draining soil. It may take up to 3 years for the new plant to grow, but once it does, you’ll have an endless supply of spiral aloes!
Flowers & fragrance
The flowers of the spiral aloe are a bright, cheerful yellow that contrasts beautifully with the plant’s green leaves. They have a light, pleasant fragrance that is often used in perfumes and lotions.
The plant grows quickly when young, but slows down as it matures. In its natural habitat, it can take up to 15 years to reach full size. When grown in a pot, it will take about 5-7 years to reach full size. The plant prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant but does not like wet feet.
Aloe polyphylla is considered toxic to humans and animals if ingested. The plant contains saponins, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Ingestion of the plant can also lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. If you suspect your pet has ingested aloe polyphylla, contact your veterinarian immediately.
USDA hardiness zones
Aloe polyphylla thrives in USDA hardiness zones 9-11, making it an ideal plant for the desert southwest. If you live outside these zones, be sure to protect your aloe from frost.
Pests and diseases
Although the Aloe polyphylla is relatively pest and disease free, there are a few things to watch out for. These include mealybugs, scale, and root rot. Mealybugs can be controlled with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Scale can be controlled with horticultural oil or neem oil.
Root rot is a serious problem that can kill the plant. It is caused by too much water and not enough drainage. Too much watering will also cause the leaves to turn yellow and drop off.
In extreme cases, it can lead to the death of the entire plant. To avoid this you should water only when soil becomes dry, use well-drained soil, mulch around plants and place pots on a saucer so that excess water can drain away from roots.
The most common solution is to cut off any damaged parts of the stem as well as any leaves that have already fallen off and compost them away from your other plants.