The unique leaf pattern of aloe polyphylla, also called spiral aloe, makes this plant popular among succulent aficionados. Unfortunately, aloe polyphylla has become endangered in its native home of Lesotho, Africa, due to overharvesting, habitat degradation and loss of its primary pollinator, the malachite sunbird.
Aloe polyphylla rarely flowers under cultivation, and seeds can be difficult to come by. However, like most succulents, aloe polyphylla can be propagated with cuttings or offsets. Young aloe polyphylla plants must reach a diameter of eight to 12 inches before they attain the trademark spiraling pattern of leaves.
Use a sharp knife to cut an outer leaf off a mature aloe polyphylla plant. Aloe plants will sometimes produce offsets, or baby plants, at the base, and these can also be used to propagate an aloe polyphylla plant. To grow an offset, simply slip your fingers around the offset and pull it free from the mother plant.
Allow the cutting to dry for three or four days so that a callus will heal over the cut end. This will help prevent the cutting from rotting.
Lay a 1-inch layer of gravel in an 8-inch-diameter pot. Make sure that the pot you use has a drainage hole on the bottom.
Top off the container with a blend of four parts all-purpose potting mix and one part sand. The Cactus and Succulent Society of America also recommends a blend of equal parts regular potting mix and orchid bark, although orchid bark may be expensive or difficult to find.
Poke a hole in the potting mix with your finger, and place the healed-over cutting or freshly harvested offset into soil. Plant the cutting either standing up straight or at slight angle, and should be buried about halfway. Plant the offset at the same depth it was originally growing.
Spread a thin layer of gravel over the top of the soil.
Water thoroughly and place the pot in indirect or filtered sunlight until it is established, at which point it should be moved into bright, direct light.
Keep the soil evenly moist in the spring, summer and fall, and allow it to dry a bit in the winter.
Repot your also polyphylla once every year so that it can have fresh growing medium and a larger container to spread out in.