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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!

Spiral Aloe

A right-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.  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

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 temps get above 85-90.  It might not thrive in consistenly hot areas, especially if nights are also warm.  Mature plants are said to handle 10 degrees F. as well as snow, although younger plants should be protected from hard freezes.  The plant grows well in a pot, and can be moved indoors for the winter.  Outside, it enjoys full sun here along the cool Pacific coast.  In warmer parts of the country, keep it cool by filtering the afternoon sun, and also avoid using a dark-colored container.

Aloe polyphylla

A left-turning spiral

Since the plant comes from high-rainfall areas, it appreciates consistent moisture during the summer months.  It does best in very well-aerated soil that is free of lime.  A good mix is 1 part potting soil to 1 part pumice rock or lava rock, with 25% horticultural sand added.  This plant is not difficult to grow, provided that its basic needs are met.

Flowering in the Spring

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Turquoise Puya

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