Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#26  Postby Spination » Thu May 18, 2017 12:31 pm

If I recall correctly some reading in my own personal days of yore, A. polyphylla is one of the youngest Aloe of that evolutionary tree, the logical result of geographic isolation and adaptation to specific and unique conditions (hydration, altitude, temperatures, and UV rays). It's cultural requirements are so narrow and refined, I would imagine anything resulting from being hybridized with it could only be easier to grow, and hopefully the result pick up some of those fantastic and unique characteristics at the same time. Apparently, there are at least a couple out there that have been done already. Mine should be getting close to flowering age, but maybe a couple more years to wait. I had an eye to the future in deciding to grow from seed others from different genetic stock, which apparently is important with this species, in the hopes of eventually producing my own and viable polyphylla seeds, but it is clear that my 2 other different genetic strains are going to be several years behind. While I'm waiting for them to catch up, that would give me a few years to make use of the one to try creating different hybrids, which should be fun and interesting. Making use of various flowers and marking them, multiple crosses could be tried in one season. Anyway, all this stuff is very slow and requires patience and thinking years off into the future. Hopefully, I can keep doing what I'm doing for another couple of decades, and come up with some interesting and different stuff of my own. :))

And yeah, it is fun to imagine various crosses, like your idea of polyphylla and plicatillis. Wild! That particular cross would take some extra effort, since plicatilis blooms early through spring, and polyphylla in the summer, necessitating pollen storage of plicatilis for a few months. And...the question whether they would be compatible genetic partners resulting in viable seed.

Aside from that, A. polyphylla is such a unique and beautiful species by it's own rights, it's definitely worthwhile to keep trying to grow it as a pure species. I think hybridizing is an interesting side line as a curiosity, but growing that one pure would be my primary goal.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#27  Postby Stan » Thu May 18, 2017 1:07 pm

Imagine a A.polyphylla x with a kelley grifith type Aloe..colors and bumps on a spiral. But,I notice that A.polyphylla is still hard to find? I saw very small ones for $50- and you could only buy 2 at a time. Me? I bought mine for much less and I think it was just a pure fluke and luck years ago. Actually I got mine for the price seeds are selling for. High five me!
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#28  Postby Spination » Thu May 18, 2017 1:54 pm

High Five Stan. D))

I agree that they seem quite pricey, and my experience is that it all depends on how many people want one and when, and how many are available. I almost fell out of my chair when a small one (3-4") I recently listed on Ebay went for almost $70. Wow. The week before the first one I listed which was a little larger even went for 1/2 that and sent to Hawaii. What I said... how many want the same plant at the same time = outbidding each other = high price. I still have several more than I don't need - perhaps I should let a couple more go... :lol: Anyway, I definitely need to make room for all the stuff I have going on, so probably not a bad idea. As it is, I almost fell on my butt this AM trying to tip-toe through floor space jammed with plants that just shouldn't even be there to begin with, just so I could get my paintbrush tickling a couple of particular Aloe flowers.... it was like a tight rope walk, and it would not have been too fun if I hadn't caught myself just in the nick of time. :oops:
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#29  Postby Agavemonger » Thu May 18, 2017 6:52 pm

Time for your new 22' X 100' greenhouse with Fan jets, heater, cooling pads, & exhaust fans, me thinks. D))

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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#30  Postby Spination » Thu May 18, 2017 8:06 pm

Right. ::wink:: Time to win the lottery. Oh wait, I forgot. You can't win if you don't play... :lol:
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#31  Postby Stan » Fri May 19, 2017 8:48 am

Spination wrote:Right. ::wink:: Time to win the lottery. Oh wait, I forgot. You can't win if you don't play... :lol:

Same here. All "gambling" should be called "give away your money for nothing". The lotto is like giving the grocery store an extra dollar for the receipt.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#32  Postby Steph115 » Wed May 24, 2017 7:45 am

Greetings from Dallas, TX! Happy to report that we made the drive with only minor plant casualties.

Spination - wow, that thing is definitely growing like crazy, and just 11 days later. Love the scientific method you used to determine this! Also, good to know about the bleaching of the leaves being the sign of sunburn, rather than turning a brown or something like that. It sounds like you've found a good solution for the right amount of light, too.

I have a question for you: my little A.p. babies have started to retire leaves at the 5 leaf stage. The first seedling retired its very first leaf awhile ago, but I thought it was because of some physical trauma that leaf had early on. However now it looks like it's starting to retire its second leaf as well. The second seedling is in the process of retiring its very first leaf right now, and this leaf had no trauma at all. They are still growing new leaves at a faster rate, it looks like. But I'm worried. Is this normal? Is there anything I should do?
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#33  Postby Spination » Wed May 24, 2017 8:46 am

Thanks. It's crude science really, but it will still give me an accurate enough feeling for how fast new leaves are being generated from the growing point. If I'm vigilant about it as well over time, I should also get a good feel for the timing of the growing season. Does it grow year round, or does it take a break somewhere during the year? I'd like to know or at least get a refined sense of that from first-hand critical observation.

Regarding the bleaching on lower leaves I had a sense was beginning, that has stopped now with the simple adjustment of the minor relocation I made. My one experience very early on regarding sunburn with that same plant, was that it began bleaching first, which had I the experience back then, would have told me that the sunburn situation was happening. That time, I waited too late to move the plant. As I recall, I became aware the growth form was not the compact form that is desirable that comes with adequate lighting, so I moved it into sun too much too fast, and then was not reactive enough while the plant was telling me it was then getting too much sun from what it was used to. From that I learned that the key is paying attention to the plant, the coloring, and not being slow to make adjustments as needed.
Here's a fresh photo from this AM capturing the current growth situation, and showing nothing alarming regarding the overall appearance and color. What I like a lot here is that the leaves emanating from the center have a much more compact appearance than the leaves farther out, which I believe is telling me that the improved sun exposure over last year is having a positive impact regarding improved growth form. In time, those long leaves further out and going down to the bottom will all be replaced with more triangular, shorter, and compact leaves.
2017 05 24 Aloe polyphylla a X800.jpg
2017 05 24 Aloe polyphylla a X800.jpg (211.7 KiB) Viewed 288 times



I reviewed photos of my first seedling batch germinated Mar-Apr 2014. There were 3 of 5 seeds, but the third one which germinated didn't make it. Specifically, I was looking at photos with an eye to your question regarding leaf retirement, and at what point do photos filed show clear evidence of that. I know that's a normal aspect of growing, and A.B. mentions that one needs to allow the leaves to dry on their own, as it is important the "goo" in the leaves get reabsorbed into the plant. So, here's a shot of one of the 2 initial seedlings at 10 months of age, showing clear leaf retirement phenomenon.
2015 06 09 Aloe polyphylla seedlings #2 a.jpg
2015 06 09 Aloe polyphylla seedlings #2 a.jpg (72 KiB) Viewed 288 times

We can see down low under the bottom leaves some completely dried up ones, and also other leaves in various stages of leaf retirement - from just the tip drying, to another already dried to mid-leaf. It does seem to be a normal part of the growth process. I would think that if the new leaves on yours are growing at a faster rate than the leaf retirement, it's moving along fine and seems normal based on my own experience.

As far as what to do, if you're already keeping them well hydrated (I water all of mine, both large and small, daily), just keep doing what you're doing. D))
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#34  Postby Steph115 » Wed May 24, 2017 9:05 am

Thanks for the quick reply - I was worried that the 5 leaf stage was a little early to see this phenomenon. Yours appears to be at the ~14-15 leaf stage in that picture, if I'm counting correctly. I will continue to water daily and watch them for hopeful improvement. They're also in a spot with much better sun now, so hopefully that helps too. The one thing I'm a little worried about is that my soil mix has too much lava rock and isn't retaining enough water. Maybe if they don't seem to improve in the next couple weeks, I'll change out the soil for a slightly less well-draining mix.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#35  Postby Spination » Wed May 24, 2017 9:26 am

I don't think the faster draining mix is an issue as long as you keep watering. As I recall, some in habitat cling to rocky substrate, with roots sinking into cracks and such, but the key is they have consistent water flow. My mix is straight cactus mix, with no extra pumice added, and it drains fine. I water each earlier part of the day, and the water drains out the bottom of the pot, and the soil doesn't really have a "soggy" quality to it, but yet apparently the plant gets all it needs from that regimen. There is no other Aloe in my collection that comes to mind that I would dare to water every single day, but with these polyphylla, I've never rotted one, so I guess what I do is perfect for them.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#36  Postby Steph115 » Wed May 24, 2017 9:49 am

Thank you, your guidance is very comforting!!!
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#37  Postby Spination » Wed May 24, 2017 9:57 am

Very happy to help. We learn from each other, and it's all good. D))
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#38  Postby Stan » Tue May 30, 2017 3:59 pm

Your observation that it grew soon after the repotting? I noticed that.Mine seems larger already. I was thinking the same- relaxed or growth?
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#39  Postby Steph115 » Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:44 am

An update: I believe the issue with my little A.p.'s is a too-rapid acclimation to a much brighter window (a greenhouse window, in fact) and resulting sunburn. However they've gotten a much needed reprieve the last several days with some overcast weather, and I are starting to regain their deeper green color. You can see in the pictures below some discoloration especially in Seedling #1 on the sides of the leaves facing the window.

My hope is that while both seedlings may retire some of their older leaves, the leaves that grow entirely in this new, brighter environment will be more hardy and stick around. I feel the new leaves are already showing a much more compact/less elongated morphology and are healthier due to the higher light intensity. They also look super plump.

The window also gets pretty warm inside - wouldn't be surprised if it was over the dreaded 85 degree threshold. But I uncovered some of the soil around the base of the plant and the roots are perfect green/yellow in color. No necrosis.

Should have gone slower, maybe even with some shade cloth. But I feel that some degree of trauma was unavoidable in the move from New Orleans to Dallas. I'm also glad that this window is giving them some significantly tougher conditions as I hope this will ease the transition to outside. Glad things seem to be turning around!
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#40  Postby Spination » Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:02 am

I see as you describe in your after and before photos for seedling 1 and 2 significant growth. Especially in the photos for seedling one, the improved color and plumpness of the leaves. Looks like they're coming along just fine.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#41  Postby Stan » Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:44 am

Steph115 wrote:An update: I believe the issue with my little A.p.'s is a too-rapid acclimation to a much brighter window (a greenhouse window, in fact) and resulting sunburn. However they've gotten a much needed reprieve the last several days with some overcast weather, and I are starting to regain their deeper green color. You can see in the pictures below some discoloration especially in Seedling #1 on the sides of the leaves facing the window.

My hope is that while both seedlings may retire some of their older leaves, the leaves that grow entirely in this new, brighter environment will be more hardy and stick around. I feel the new leaves are already showing a much more compact/less elongated morphology and are healthier due to the higher light intensity. They also look super plump.

The window also gets pretty warm inside - wouldn't be surprised if it was over the dreaded 85 degree threshold. But I uncovered some of the soil around the base of the plant and the roots are perfect green/yellow in color. No necrosis.

Should have gone slower, maybe even with some shade cloth. But I feel that some degree of trauma was unavoidable in the move from New Orleans to Dallas. I'm also glad that this window is giving them some significantly tougher conditions as I hope this will ease the transition to outside. Glad things seem to be turning around!


You do know this is not an Aloe for a hot humid summer climate? Dallas seems too much in summer,and maybe too much in winter with the teens coming around every few winters. BUT!..the Dallas Aquarium has a huge Wine Palm- brought in from California,seeming to adjust. Best of luck!
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#42  Postby Steph115 » Sun Jun 04, 2017 9:07 am

Stan wrote:You do know this is not an Aloe for a hot humid summer climate?


I do know that this is a cool climate / alpine aloe. However I've taken comfort in hearing from Spination's experience successfully growing this species with hot temperatures, occasionally temperatures >100. I know it will take many extra precautions. But my understanding is that once old enough, A. polyphylla can be pretty tough even against high temperatures.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#43  Postby Spination » Sun Jun 04, 2017 10:27 am

At the risk of being repetitive, I really think the key as I have found with my own growing adventures of this species, is to water them with frequency. Mine are getting watered every single day, as in soaked...
But, the cactus mix I use does drain well, so the water does run through. I can say the soil never dries out though, which goes against the usual wisdom of growing succulents. We all know and abide by the sound advice that soil should be allowed to dry in between watering. I do that myself with everything else, but not so with these polyphylla. A.B. says to never let them dry out, so that's what I follow. I'm sure if it was wrong, I would have at least rotted one by now. The other major factor is not to underestimate the effects of the pot color with pot culture. Black pot + heat + direct sun = cooking roots, disaster. That falls in the category of a simple thing we usually don't really think about. It's a biggie though... I should add as well that all my seedlings are being housed in a greenhouse kit. It's my newest one, doesn't get quite like the 110F of my first one, which seems to be like some sort of sauna as soon as the sun shines on it, even covered with shade cloth, but this latest kit still gets pretty hot too. I'd say on a sunny 79F high forecast for us here today, it will easily be in the 90s inside there too, even with every vent on the sides open and a rather small fan running (better than nothing).
So, even my 2" - 4, 5 " seedlings sitting in there are doing just fine.
I know they say you can't grow these in heat, but I think it's not quite true as long as the roots have plenty of soil for insulation around them (don't underpot), kept well watered, and the critical mistake of a black pot is avoided.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#44  Postby Steph115 » Sun Jun 04, 2017 10:40 am

I've taken to soaking them every day as well. I know A.B. says maintain soil so it doesn't fall below 50% hydration, but since these guys have been adjusting to much higher light intensities, I've been very liberal with the water. If there are several days in a row where it might be overcast, I hold off. My mix is so well draining (50% red lava) that I think it would be virtually impossible to rot the roots.

Regarding the pots, I might have to consider giving them a little white skirt of some sort...
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#45  Postby Spination » Sat Jun 10, 2017 3:07 pm

Looking back on this thread, I see I recorded a diameter measurement of 16" on 4/26. On 5/18 I mentioned it had increased by an inch. Today, 6/10, I measure again and it is easily 18" from one side to the other, tip to tip, and erring on the conservative side, and measured from different directions (which is a good indication it's fairly round ::wink:: - a good sign I guess). So, it's most definitely still getting bigger, so therefor growing, and at a fast rate.
Here's the current look of the center, with my piece of tape still where I stuck it, and the leaf count to the center is now 6 clearly visible leaves, the unseen 7th in direct center logically and imaginably in development.
2017 06 10 Aloe polyphylla a.jpg
2017 06 10 Aloe polyphylla a.jpg (84.42 KiB) Viewed 235 times


At this rate, I can see now all too clearly my repot not that long ago and my estimation that it would be good for a year might well be quite the miscalculation. Clearly, at least where I am with this thing right now, the bigger they get, the faster they grow. 2" since 4/26 is more than I expected, for sure.

PS - I water around the rosette with a hose every morning...
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#46  Postby Stan » Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:33 pm

Its been a good growing year for them. Cool but about 70f temps,even some rain. I can see mine has added diameter,some height. Did you see somebody post they bought one in a 5 gallon at a Castro Valley nursery for $350? That's Cycad prices!
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#47  Postby Spination » Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:18 pm

No, I didn't see that. That's just further evidence other than my recent Ebay experiences with them just how hot these are, and the prices they are fetching. Now, I wish rather than having grown a dozen + seedlings in the last 2 years, that I had grown several dozen instead. ::wink:: I guess the deal there was first to see if I could. It was supposed to be harder than it turns out, actually.

So, 5 gal. What is that, about a 12" or so plant? My question to myself is: Why am I growing anything else? Oh, that's right. Because I like to! :))
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#48  Postby Steph115 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 12:05 pm

Spiny - your plant is looking amazing. I for one am very, very happy to hear that they grow faster as they get bigger ;)
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#49  Postby Spination » Sun Jun 11, 2017 12:32 pm

I'm really amazed. I have a nice oak wine barrel I can move it into, and now I see that would be futile. It's only 24" wide at the top, inside diameter. If this thing adds another 1" a month, @ 18", it won't be but 6 more months before even the 24" wine barrel will be insufficient. Knowing they can get some 3' across, it looks like I should start shopping for a 36" container, and then not worry about it again after that.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#50  Postby Agavemonger » Sun Jun 11, 2017 5:56 pm

Or purchase that acre next door in which to plant it in the ground.

Stay at least fifty feet away from the street though, or the county will be forced to prune the edge that is greasing up the highway. D))

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