Spiral Aloe Care: Growing An Aloe With Spiraling Leaves

Aloe Plant With Spiraling Leaves
spiral aloe
(Image credit: Sabine Hortebusch)

Attractive and rare, the spiral aloe plant is a worthwhile investment for the serious collector. Finding the stemless plant may be somewhat of a challenge, though.

If you’re lucky enough to come across this interesting aloe plant, tips on how to grow spiral aloe will be next on your list.

What is a Spiral Aloe?

Spiral aloe (Aloe polyphylla) information says pups don’t often grow on this plant, but propagation from seed is simple. Lack of babies partially explains the rarity of this South African native. That said, seeds are available for purchase online.

The spiral aloe is unusual, with symmetrical leaves twirling around in a circle of growth. Spiraling begins when the plant is 8 and 12 inches (20 and 31 cm.). A large, single rosette rises with white to pale green spines on leaf edges. The plant may reach a foot (31 cm.) in height and 2 feet (61 cm.) across once fully mature. While it rarely blooms, you may be rewarded with spring or summer flowers on an older plant. These tubular aloe blooms appear on a branching spike above the plant.

Growing in the mountainous region of Drakensberg, plants are most often found on steep slopes and are sometimes covered with snow there. It is a criminal offense to remove these plants, or their seeds, from this area – so be sure you are acquiring them from a reputable grower.

How to Grow Spiral Aloe

Information indicates this plant is hardy in USDA zones 7 through 9. Locate the plant in proper lighting for the temperatures in your area. If you’re willing to invest in the cost and upkeep of this plant, consider these points in spiral aloe care:

The plant grows best on a sharp incline, as in its native habitat. This is nature’s way of keeping water from standing on the roots. Consider positioning it where you can provide the same situation. Fast-draining soil can help satisfy this aspect of care too. A living wall or even a rock garden might also provide these conditions.

The spiral aloe plant requires protection from the heat. Most growth is in spring and fall, requiring protection during summer. While it takes drier cold when acclimated better than some other succulent plants, it can start to decline in temperatures around 80 degrees F. (27 C.), so beware of the heat. Keep it out of most sun when growing outside in the heat. Protection for the roots is especially important. Sources recommend a dappled morning sun location in summer. Grow container plants in a thick wood or glazed ceramic pot to add further root protection.

Indoor protection may offer the best growing situation for the spiral aloe in summer. Indoors, this aloe with spiraling leaves makes an attractive accent on an indoor table with morning sun.

Keep in mind, this plant is drought tolerant. When growing in a mostly shaded location, even less water is needed, including spring and summer. Even less water is necessary in fall and winter. Overwatering is a common cause for the loss of this plant. Always use a light touch when watering.

Becca Badgett

Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.