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:#76  Postby Spination » Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:25 am

So here's the latest photo, a month after the last. Piece of tape still hasn't fallen off, and now counting leaves in to the center along the spiral - there are now 11 clearly visible leaves. So, no slowdown in growth yet. Looking down from the center, the edge of the pot is barely visible now through the outermost leaves.
2017 08 06 Aloe polyphylla _cam phone.jpg
2017 08 06 Aloe polyphylla _cam phone.jpg (505.65 KiB) Viewed 239 times


Also, other than a couple of consecutive days back mid-June, I have not missed watering every morning, running the hose around the rosette along the bottom, giving it a good quick soak.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#77  Postby Steph115 » Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:33 am

This is unreal. I just looked back on this thread and saw you placed this tape 3 leaves from the center on May 18. This is an unbelievable amount of growth for 2.5 months! How are the older leaves looking? Is it beginning to retire any? Doesn't look like it from here. When are you going to pot up next?!
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#78  Postby Spination » Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:03 am

I think the key is the understanding of just how water-loving they are, and using that as a guide to give them what they want. Happily, the older leaves with their burnt tips are pushing out further and further, but I haven't noticed actual retirement, although I'm sure bottom most leaves will be doing just that soon enough. The biggest change to my eye is with this year's better lighting/sun situation, the new leaves are coming in more compact - shorter and more triangular, giving the plant a more pleasing overall look. Yes, could already use another repot, but I think I'm going to wait until early spring. Since I plopped it out of it's previous pot only earlier this year, I feel like I shouldn't disrupt it again quite so soon.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#79  Postby Steph115 » Sun Aug 06, 2017 12:27 pm

I can definitely appreciate the degree of compactness. And regarding the older leaves, I was asking because I know at some point the plant will reach "critical mass" and the ratio of new leaves: retired leaves will be close to 1:1. I wonder how far away from this your plant is.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#80  Postby Spination » Sun Aug 06, 2017 2:07 pm

So, it's now 20" wide from outermost crispy lower leaf tip to the other side, and 14" tall from the soil line. I had what seemed at one point a nice big wine barrel, but in measuring it's only 24" in diameter... so not really that big when imagining one of these things pushing a width of 3' wide, as I have read. At some point soon, I'll have to keep an eye out for something in the realm of 36" wide, as my next repot of this plant I would like to be the last. Knowing it can yet add another 16" to it's diameter, and not really knowing if we're talking another year, or two, or three... I would expect the new-leaf to leaf-retirement ratio to not really level out for the foreseeable future.

The next big milestone will be flowering. A UK webpage for these plants has the owner disclosing a flowering sized plant @ 50 cm (19.7"), so size-wise, it's already there. There was also a mention of 6 years from seed, so from that measure it should be there also. The flowering photos look to be May-June, so it looks as if this year's window of opportunity has passed... maybe next year then! :))
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#81  Postby Steph115 » Sun Aug 06, 2017 2:21 pm

What a milestone that will be indeed. Given how happy yours look, I'd be shocked if they don't flower. Do you have two so you'll be able to pollinate or is this guy the front runner by far?
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#82  Postby Spination » Sun Aug 06, 2017 2:29 pm

I have this one which I bought as a seed grown plant already some 6" in diameter at the time. Afterwards, I bought seeds from a couple of sources - and my largest of my own seedlings is already larger than when I first got this one.
Apparently, of importance for breeding is "hybrid vigor" - that they are not exactly closely related (like from the same batch of seeds). So, even if this flowers sooner than later, the next one behind will be following by some 3 years or so... Still, I would love to see it flower, just to see it, and while I'm waiting on the next one, I could always try some hybridizing with other species... ::wink::
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#83  Postby Stan » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:25 pm

They aren't hybrids. Maybe clones. Mine seems to be just like that big one and makes me wonder if they are related back to some lab from the 2010 era give or take? I've made huge mistakes and its survived..now it bigger and getting almost hefty. I made small mistakes with my first try and killed that Aloe in a week.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#84  Postby Spination » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:54 pm

I'm using the terminology of Alan Beverley. His PhD was on Aloe polyphylla. If he wants to refer to the idea of using different lines within the species for breeding as "hybrid vigor"... that's fine with me. In any case, I know what he means. D)) Of course they're not "hybrids" if they're the same species... ::wink::
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#85  Postby Stone Jaguar » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:57 am

I think, Ph.D. or not, this is a somewhat misleading use of the term "hybrid vigor" in this particular case. Then again, dog, poultry and livestock breeders do indeed call their intraspecific crosses "hybrids", so I suppose it's no sin to stretch a point. But I think most of us would think of a hybrid aloe as a very different critter than a cultivated Aloe polyphylla derived from a diverse genetic base.

Out-crossing from a very narrow genetic line within a species or subspecies to reduce inbreeding depression and/or in search of better-looking and more vigorously-growing plants and animals for ag or horticulture is a pretty mainstream concept. Line-breeding, to stabilize/enhance favored characteristics, also mainstream and very common in ornamental plant and animal breeding circles. I think that is what is more along the lines of what is going on with this species in cultivation now; people are now artificially selecting "successful' flowering plants in their collections to produce seed from, that in turn is getting more vigorous plants into other's gardens.

One of the problems with selecting rare seed or seedlings for propagation through TC without knowing what the final product may look like and perform in a garden is that you run the high risk of getting crappy, maladapted clones that can give the broader species an oft-undeserved reputation for being problematic in cultivation. Case in point, this aloe species. I have two nearly identical-sized plants from TC that I purchased from the Dry Garden in Oakland in 2015 that are incredibly difficult to succeed with. Growing alongside these runts, we also have a number of seed-grown plants from Alan Beverley that grow great guns as well as another large, vigorous plant sold to me by a friend that is also seed-grown by a Bay Area plant breeder. I have little doubt that if better material was selected for TC, people would not have such a dark view of their chances with this aloe. If I were to base my commentary on the results achieved with my two TC plants so far, it would definitely be thumbs-down.

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

Post Number:#86  Postby Azuleja » Mon Aug 07, 2017 12:42 pm

Yes, line breeding to concentrate and stabilize desirable traits like color and spinage often also concentrates other unseen traits such as weakness toward specific diseases, sensitivity to certain environmental conditions etc. I wouldn't consider crossed plants from the same species to have true hybrid vigor, but what do I know.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#87  Postby Stan » Mon Aug 07, 2017 12:49 pm

I got mine at Reagans Nursery for a very low price. It looked "beefy" small. Has survived soils it hates,and comeback very strong on potting soil x aquarium gravel and some used potting soils I had. Low nutrition but fast draining mix all together.
My first try around 2005 was brought it home,put it the backyard still in its pot. After a few days,my general watering caused it to just to collapse. I only tried again because the one I have was half the price of the first one and ,as I said,had that "beefy,robust look". I guessed right.
I need to download some photos of this recent plant. I have on the net photos from the first day I bought it. The ones I linked too for later years,might now be gone because of PB being a-holes.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#88  Postby Spination » Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:54 am

So, I finally had the opportunity to review the various saved Alan Beverly articles to refresh my memory regarding his exact use of the term "hybrid vigor".

Steph, first...regarding the question of leaf retirement. I find two references in different articles. In one, he states that the life of a leaf is 2 years. In the other most pertinent reference, he states that the leaf retirement ratio reaches 1 in a mature individual.

Stan, Jay, Azul... Regarding "hybrid vigor" - I'm quite sure he is not using the term literally, but referring to the concept. The first important idea he offers is that he believes Aloe polyphylla to be a young species, circa 25,000 years old, and geographically isolated among a narrow altitude range of 7500-8500 feet in the Drakensburg and Malutis mountains of Lesotho. It would be this situation whereby inbreeding becomes a problem, apparently leading to a seed viability issues.
Here are various quotes pulled out from his various articles.
"The species only produces viable seed by crossing two differing parents"
Then, in a discussion regarding the issue of low % seed viability within the species: "Restated inversely, the combined parent genotypes will enable hybrid vigor or maybe not. In a population of seedlings, there is great variability in performance."
Then, in discussing TC for polyphylla: "This is why TC plants develop slower than embryos in seeds, TC will not become a preferred method of propagation, they have none of the hybrid vigor of seedlings."
Finally, in a section discussing his own breeding stock which came from habitat selected seed from which he grew adult plants: "... grew adult plants to maximize the opportunity to create quality hybrid seed."
I might have missed other references, but I had several pages to skim through, and not much time with an awful lot going on for me right now to deal with, not plant related. In any case, I think those quotes get his idea across of the point he's conveying.

My own referred use of his term earlier on was not due to ignorance regarding what is or isn't a hybrid or hybrid vigor, but rather honoring the source - A.B.'s findings that these plants are a young species, geographically isolated, and as a species appear to suffer problematic seed viability issues apparently due to inbreeding. Given the specifics, I think his use of the term "hybrid vigor", while not technically accurate, well imparts the importance of the need to acquire differing stock for the purpose of seed production. Having studied his information some years ago before I myself began acquiring my own stock, I now have one large plant, and two other own-grown seedlings getting on in the growing department, all from different sources and thus presumably of sufficiently differing genotypes to achieve my eventual goal of producing my own viable seeds. The bulk of my remaining seedlings came from A.B. seed, so I consider them only one general genotype, only the largest of which worth saving for breeding, along with 2 completely different sourced plants. In other words, at some point a few years down the road, I should have 3 different lines to work with for crossing together, with the expectation that I will achieve viable seeds.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#89  Postby Azuleja » Tue Aug 08, 2017 10:34 am

Makes sense. They do the same thing in zoos, I believe. The amount and variety you have at your place qualifies you. Zookeeper of plants.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#90  Postby Stan » Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:38 pm

Here's mine as of a minute ago. I wish I had bought ten if I knew I was going to get good at growing ( a VERY hardy clone) them. I keep thinking of them selling for $300 in Castro Valley.
It's not sweating,I watered.
Compare to first photo on page1.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#91  Postby Stone Jaguar » Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:25 pm

Nice job, Stan. Looking good!

I follow Tom's reco of watering copiously every morning and am extremely pleased with the results. This is a very fast-growing aloe when it's genuinely happy.

TC material is just garbage. Seed grown plants now doninating local trade are a huge improvement over crap offered a couple years back.

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

Post Number:#92  Postby Steph115 » Sun Aug 13, 2017 8:17 am

Looking great, Stan! Nice work. It must be even more satisfying to see these guys thriving after the troubleshooting you've done. And I hear you about the urge to grow more. I recently purchased 100 seeds once I felt my first round of seedlings were safely through their transition to Texas.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#93  Postby Stan » Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:21 pm

Thank you Steph,J.
J,I'm just guessing..for all I really know my first A.polyphylla was a clone,and this is seed grow. I still can't figure why it was so low cost at a premium nursery. Why I took a second try.

Funny- this Aloe I found on its side one morning and some gravel spilled. Turned out two big dogs had been making visits. The Aloe never skipped a beat. I water every other day.

The soil mix is..aquarium gravel,old used up potting mix from dead container plants,and lots of perlite. Fast,low nutrients. I think I have fertilized it once this summer. Vigero Palm and Hibiscus food.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#94  Postby Stone Jaguar » Sun Aug 13, 2017 5:11 pm

Yes, trick is to grow it in the freeest-draining substrate you can. We're almost completely mineralized over here...certainly no more than 30% organic matter.

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

Post Number:#95  Postby Stan » Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:53 pm

Steph115 wrote:Looking great, Stan! Nice work. It must be even more satisfying to see these guys thriving after the troubleshooting you've done. And I hear you about the urge to grow more. I recently purchased 100 seeds once I felt my first round of seedlings were safely through their transition to Texas.


You might keep them air cooled until large enough to sell? I wonder if a basement grower under fluorescent grow lights could get these to good size?

I forgot to ask...Do you need 2 of these to make seed? Not self fertile? If not,ruins my plans.. :lol:
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#96  Postby Steph115 » Mon Aug 14, 2017 11:20 am

They are self sterile, unfortunately. I've read on many different blogs the difficulty this creates, with growers driving miles to get some of their neighbors pollen lol.

And yes - probably indoors for awhile and then I think they'll do ok in my little shade structure honestly. My biggest one is at the 10 leaf stage now and per Alan Beverly I am going to wait until they have 20 to go outside with them.

Free draining mix has definitely been key for me too. I think I have upwards of 70% perlite in mine. Tried with small grade lava rock but I think it was too heavy for them at their small size. They took off once I switched them back to perlite.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#97  Postby Stan » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:18 pm

I notice the smooth small grade of aquarium gravels make a good home for plant roots. Mine has a lot of "Monterey Sands" that is in the gravel size. You could try the sand size- used for sandblasting I think..but I remember that as too fine.
I was reading in a local paper that the company that was selling that is being sued for taking too much beach sand. I sort of wondered how a city like Monterey Ca. would let a company remove its beach sand. Its been since the 70's at least.
The very best..is something called silver sands. VERY free flowing,doesnt pack. HARD to find. I had some given to me and saw plants do very well in it. I wish I could remember where he told me he got it.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#98  Postby Stone Jaguar » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:50 pm

Nice observations on different qualities of mineral substrates. Because perlite is expensive in Guatemala and pumice is almost free, I always used medium-fine pumice in most of my mixes. Growing many types of rheophytes from SE Asia and tropical America in California, I have found that imported medium-grade Shohin akadama has no peer. Way too expensive to use on most succulents, but worth making the investment on a bag if you have treasured stuff you want to pamper. Some very skilled orchid growers in the Pac NW use it pure to grow epiphytic orchids. Too far off the deep end even for me, but good to know.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#99  Postby Steph115 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 5:30 pm

That is good to know... I could imagine myself going off that deep end one day :lol:
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#100  Postby Stan » Wed Aug 16, 2017 11:03 am

I wonder if "Silver sands" is so smooth because the grains are rounded? ( See Azul link to the NYT)I tell you I was given a 1' Saguaro in near pure sand. When that plant died in a foggy summer,I didn't toss all that mix away. Felt like hourglass sands look..just smooth in the palm of your hand. And,its flecks never did pack down.
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