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:#126  Postby Steph115 » Sat Oct 07, 2017 5:14 pm

Ah yes the tilt. Sounds like a good strategy. And I see what you're saying about winter growth. Since yours haven't shown any sign of stress even in your 106(!) degree days, I guess they have probably been at peak growth during these long summer days. I wonder if this would be different for a plant that was clamming up from the heat.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#127  Postby AgaveMad » Sun Oct 22, 2017 11:49 pm

I have a quick question regarding growing Aloe Polyphylla.
I planted these seeds in April, and had 12 out of 50 germinate.
I have grown them under the staging to protect from full sun and the hottest weather in the greenhouse in summer. I did my last water in the greenhouse a couple of weeks ago, but I am wondering if these guys need water over winter? The temp is kept around 6 decrees C / 42f
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#128  Postby Spination » Mon Oct 23, 2017 8:55 am

You've done a wonderful job raising those, and for 6 month old seedlings, those are very impressive. Your germination rate is not unusual. I've had 50% or less, and even zero with 2 seed acquisitions (although I haven't completely given up on a current batch of 15 seeds - but not looking promising at this point).

Regarding water - if you withhold water, the plants will tell you if they don't like it. If they respond by shriveling or retiring older leaves at a faster rate, then you'll know they need more water. Pictured as they are now, they look fantastic. Out of curiosity, I'd like to know if you sowed them in soil, or used the water germination technique mickthecactus advocates.

As far as my own watering regimen, I water every day, all year long, in the AM, allowing the water to drain out until the next AM in well draining medium. This actually more closely than not simulates their natural environment. Any other aloe species would likely rot with similar treatment, but Aloe polyphylla is not any other aloe. It's very unique and has adapted to a unique set of conditions in a unique environment no other aloe is built to deal with.

Bottom line, with the results you've achieved so far, I would not want to suggest you do anything different from what you're doing.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#129  Postby AgaveMad » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:41 am

Hi Tom
I used the water method, however I think I was a little premature planting them, as soon as I saw roots on two of the seeds I planted them, I do wonder if I had waited a little longer then the germination rate may have been higher. I have had two lots of seeds from Ebay that did not germinate one plant. These seeds came from a stall at the British Cactus and Succulent national show. If I could track down the seller I would buy more for next year!
Because they are under staging in the greenhouse they don't dry up very fast, so I only water them every couple of weeks. I will reduce this to once a month through winter and see how they go.
There have been some beautiful plants pictured on this thread and I cant wait till these are large1
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#130  Postby Steph115 » Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:14 pm

6 months?! I'm also very impressed. What a beautiful group of seedlings you have there. Like Spiny, I water every day. Mine are in a very bright greenhouse window and even get some pretty direct sun. They never dry out, but when I've gone out of town for a weekend and not watered them for a day or two, I notice some sunburn. Mine are very happy being watered every day, but yours look happy as can be. How much sun do yours get exactly?
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#131  Postby Spination » Mon Oct 23, 2017 3:14 pm

I think your success with infrequent watering regimen speaks to the difference in culture conditions. Even today, we had forecast for a high of 90F (32C), and my largest and also as of this year my next 3 largest are out in the sun. They have handled sun and heat perfectly well, and I'm quite sure my daily watering routine has been a big benefit with that. As has been mentioned before by others, UK weather can be a pain growing some things, but likely also quite beneficial when growing others. I'd say polyphylla likes UK weather... a lot! I'm quite sure though I would not be able to get away with weekly watering here... and achieve the same results.

There is no doubt that latitude (and altitude) where they are growing plays a big role in optimal care regimen for any particular grower due to the differences in sun, climate/temps. For purposes of general comparison, London (arbitrary selection to represent UK) is 57.5 degrees latitude north, San Fran is 37.8 degrees north (I'm approx 40 miles north of that), and Lesotho is 29.6 degrees south. Each degree is worth 69 (111 km) miles of distance from the equator. So - London = 3967 miles, SF = 2608 miles, Lesotho = 2042 miles from the equator. At the equator, day and night are equal year round: 12 hours day, 12 hours night. The further away from the equator, the more "season" is experienced, with differing average highs and lows in temperature, although north winter is typically circa December and south winter is circa June. You being 1000 miles further north than me means significant variance in daylight hours, and different climate, so different obstacles/concerns. London daylight hours 8.09 hours 12/21, and 16.38 hours 6/21, SF 9.3 hours 12/21 and 14.47 hours 6/21, and Lesotho 14.02 hours 12/21 (summer) and 10.16 hours 6/21 (winter). Given Lesothos is closer to the equator than either of our northern locations, they experience less seasonal variation from the longest to the shortest day, which should in theory decrease the amount of climate variation as well. It comes down to figuring out how to adjust due to the difference in where we are growing compared to typical habitat conditions. The two main concerns that come to mind then are sun exposure and watering frequency.

Regarding elevation, Lesotho is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 1400 meters above sea level (so 4600 feet minimum elevation). London is 115' and Sonoma is 85', so that aspect of the sun's effect on our respective elevations should be roughly equivalent, but both significant deviation from habitat. At higher elevations the amount of UV increases dramatically, and of course temps are cooler. Polyphylla has adapted to handle high-altitude UV, and lower temps, so growing at lower elevations creates a challenge compensating for the difference to plants growing in natural habitat.
http://www.climatestotravel.com/climate/lesotho
Highest temps of Maseru (elevation 5249 and temperate climate) are low 80s Dec Jan Feb, and coldest temps are circa 35 F Jun Jul Aug. So, not too hot, and not too cold. Rainy season is when it's warm, "dry" season when it's colder. Aloe polyphylla grows in higher elevations yet than the information linked for Maseru.

It's interesting to hear about and learn successful strategy for growers in different climates. What works optimally for here may not be optimal somewhere else, and vice versa, but it does add to the overall base of personal knowledge about growing this said to be difficult to grow species in general.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#132  Postby mickthecactus » Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:19 am

Could I suggest you take them out from under the staging now to take advantage of our weak winter sun?

Glad the water method worked btw.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#133  Postby AgaveMad » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:52 am

Hi Mick, yes I lifted them when I took the photo. I had read about the water method... These seedlings were third time lucky.
Steph, the greenhouse gets pretty hot and dry in summer and the plants on the staging dry out quickly, I have grown Agave seedlings under the staging with success so I assumed these would be the same. They get around 4-5 hours of sunlight a day in the height of summer, less in autumn and spring.
Tom, I am in northern England and just above sea level, not sure how much difference that makes. I was under the impression that Aloe Polyphylla had a preference to cool conditions, hence protecting it from direct sun and baking heat.... looking at your plants you seem to have great success growing them in hot conditions, it just goes to show how adaptable plants can be.
Let us just see if I can keep them alive during a cold damp UK winter.......
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#134  Postby Spination » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:41 am

Yes, you are right about the cool. Regarding sun, in habitat they are out there in full sun, and in high altitude the sun has more effect. The formula is that for every 1000 meters in altitude, UV increases by 10-12% due to thinner atmosphere filtering less UV radiation. The entire state of Lesotho is land-locked by South Africa, and completely resides on the Great Escarpment (high altitude). These plants actually live even higher in the mountains @ 2000 to 2500 meters. So, these plants up there at 2000 meters or higher are getting UV radiation circa 25% more than where you are growing at sea level. So, while the temps are more cool in habitat, the sun is more harsh. At the peak of your summer, you would be getting about 2 hours more daylight that they would get in habitat at the height of their summer (the rainy season). But in winter, UK daylight would be about 2 hours less than in Lesotho. So with that in mind, they could definitely use all the sun available in UK winter (because of less hours of daylight, and much less intense sunshine). This could mean that the extra 2 hours of summer daylight you're getting compensates for less direct sun, but in the winter the situation is reversed, and it stands to reason that it would be more problematic growing these things to good form in the winter months.

As always, with any succulents moved into a more sunshine situation, a gradual adjustment is important. When I first moved my large one into sun, and rather abruptly, when it was about a foot wide, it got sunburn. I transferred it back to how I had it, let it recover, and then once again made the move to full sun incrementally, by moving it away from shade further and further over time. No more burn, and a much better looking plant nowadays. These are subject to etiolation (longer, less wide leaves) and just don't look as good without the compact, more triangular leaves that are normal for them. When I grow my seedlings in filtered light, the leaves are pointier and longer, and after they are adjusted to proper sunlight, they transform by growing the new leaves which are much more compact.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#135  Postby Spination » Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:15 am

November photo - new leaf count - 18 leaves to the center. Growth continues to appear roughly consistent. Not the best photo. Phone pic, and still kind of foggy looking due to marine layer not yet burned off... no sun.
2017 11 03 Aloe polyphylla growth leaf count 18.jpg
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#136  Postby Steph115 » Fri Nov 03, 2017 5:10 am

Took me awhile to find the tape this time. Unbelievable how fast it has grown.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#137  Postby Spination » Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:01 pm

I'm pretty amazed too. It's one thing to care for a plant and note it's size increasing over time, but it fosters a whole new and different appreciation for what is happening when one can monitor and quantify the growth in terms of leaf production. Sure, we see growth, we assume there's new leaves, but for myself.. I never really thought about it in terms of just how much leaf turnover is going on with this species. That leaf with the tape is now far out, and getting lower. I wonder how long before it's retired? The tip is already drying up. ::wink::
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#138  Postby Spination » Sun Dec 10, 2017 10:35 am

December photo update. Leaf count from taped leaf - 19. Only one more this time around, signalling the first visible slowdown of growth since I started this thread. One possible factor to consider is that I've been more sporadic with my watering regimen. First, it's colder. A hot day is now in the 60s, so the soil is not going to be drying out like before. Also, we've had some rain here and there, decreasing the need to water as well.
Daylight hours are now the shortest of the year - the solstice right around the corner where are the daylight hours are now in the 9 1/2 hour range, compared to the longest days circa June 21 of 14 3/4 hours a day. That's a pretty big difference - 5 less hours of sunlight which factors heavily in the growth department. I think that's plenty reasonable explanation for why I've now recorded a definite drop off in the growth rate. Let's see how this continues, and see how and when longer days of spring affect the growth rate again in the opposite direction.
As an aside, I'm knowing it will be time quite soon to pot this plant up. It's definitely filled this one out - so I will have one year of use out of the current one. This has achieved what I'd call fairly large, and the biggest deal is that it's one pretty heavy plant. Getting this into a larger pot next time around is not going to be an easy chore for just myself. The good thing, is that the next repot should be the last for this plant. It's now got a full 22" diameter, so a pot somewhere between 30-36" should be permanent going forward.
Lastly, I've done nothing to protect them from cold. They're outside, exposed, uncovered - including the 3 smaller ones surrounding. We've had at least a half dozen freezing AMs already, including the last 2 in a row - 32 and 30F. That's nothing they don't see in habitat, so I'm not thinking there's any reason to worry about it. Hopefully, I'm not wrong.

2017 12 08 Aloe polyphylla growth leaf count 19.jpg
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#139  Postby toditd » Sun Dec 10, 2017 10:49 am

Thanks for your update. It was just yesterday I wondering if you still had it on a daily watering schedule or if you cut back the watering or even keep it dry in the winter.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#140  Postby Spination » Sun Dec 10, 2017 11:08 am

I wasn't totally sure myself what to do. Alan Beverly says to not let them dry out, but with this weather, and the addition of even a little rain so far, I don't see that happening. I'm thinking perhaps though what I should do, to account for pot culture vs in ground, and the subsequent different effect of cold on the root zone - I should add a layer of insulation just on the outside of the pot - like wrap it with bubble wrap once around. I guess I'll do that in the next day or so. Otherwise, I think they'll be fine. I won't water now unless we get some freak warm up, which would be a pleasant but unexpected surprise.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#141  Postby Spination » Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:04 am

Not much to say...leaf count now is 20. So, one new leaf from the center on each spiral generated in the last month. The month can be encapsulated as cold, with at least a dozen days of AM lows 32F or lower. Plant in open, unprotected. Also, very little in the way of rain - actually, zero recorded in the entire month. Because of the cold, I didn't water much - and not every day for sure. Every few days only, and trying to coincide that with AM's expected above freezing. I've noticed more leaf tip necrosis than before, and with no new leaf generation to speak of, probably a normal happening magnified by the absence of fresh, new leaves for the last 2 months. Anyway, this AM, I gave it a prevention-motivated spray of Liqui-cop (anti-fungal).
In any case, what I can say in terms of monitoring the leaf count of this plant since circa April, is that leaves were being generated at a consistent pace all through spring, summer, and fall, with a notable slow-down the last two months. We'll see when exactly the growth rate picks up once again. Since days are getting incrementally longer, I expect in the next month or so...
2 things which come to mind regarding lack of notable growth, are of course the shorter days, and also the general lack of warm weather.
2018 01 04 Aloe polyphylla growth leaf count 20.jpg
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PS - I also decided what I'm going to do about repotting. Rather than search out a really large pot, or use a wine barrel that's just plain insufficient in diameter, I'm going to build a wall of stones (no more than 1 foot high) forming a circle around where the plant has been parked for the last year, and plant it thusly above ground in the center, with approximately 36"+ in diameter available for the plant to spread out. I'll fill in around the plant with cactus mix, and drainage through the rocks above the ground level will never be an issue.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#142  Postby Steph115 » Sat Jan 06, 2018 5:58 pm

Love your idea for repotting. Seems like that will make an ideal environment for A.p. Maximal air movement among the roots and good drainage. Just gotta find some light colored rocks!

Here's my baby. Still growin during our short and gloomy days so far!
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#143  Postby Spination » Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:12 pm

That's in pristine condition - very nice - well done!
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#144  Postby Stan » Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:52 pm

Mine could use a potting up. BUT!..My largest nicest glazed pot is saphire blue. Would it be wrong to put these blue green Aloes in a blue pot? Does it make them look less impressive? I also will have to enlarge the drainage holes. It comes with just one in the center. A hammer and nail punch will enlarge that sucker..put some mesh. Like I do with Bonsai.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#145  Postby Steph115 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:08 am

I think they'd LOOK great in sapphire blue, but I'd be worried about cooking the roots.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#146  Postby Stan » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:36 pm

Pot, meet plant.

Good for at least three years of growth. I have lots of old aquarium gravel to use. It seemed to like that and old worn potting soils in the black pot.
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Re: Can't seem to keep up with this Aloe polyphylla's growth

Post Number:#147  Postby johnbecker » Wed Jan 10, 2018 10:32 pm

Spination, I think ours are almost the same size... I was planning on a half barrel for it this spring, but you're not into them?

EDIT: now that I look at the pics together, yours is definitely bigger than mine. I'm going to try the tape thing though.
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