Aloe polyphylla...normal?

TT, zone 5b MADecember 13, 2011

Hi -

My A. polyphylla has spent its first month in my lovely garage, hanging with some wrinkly opuntias near a north facing window. I have given it some light waterings once every two weeks or so, thinking it shouldn't dry out completely. Temps in the garage range from 40s to low 50s at this point.

I have noticed the plant shrink down a bit, and show some leaf yellowing and senescence on the lower leaves...does this seem normal, or should I be doing something different with its treatment? My only other options are warmer sunroom with HID lights, and possibly some room at a south facing window (room temps).

Pics...

Thanks!

Tom

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norma_2006

Tom the only way I can make a suggestion is tell you have I was growing them at the Huntington. I did not do the watering, I propagated them. They watered once a week. They were in a very shallow 2" deep flat with newspaper on the bottom to hold in the soil, we used our reg. succulent mix. The flat was placed approx. 15 feet away from the western windows. I don't remember seeing any yellowing of the leaves. It's winter here and summer in Africa, I don't know, not enough information given for me to give you proper advise, lets see what Jeff says. He knows more then I do.
It grows well in the San Francinco area just So. in Pacifica, it can live covered with snow. It says there is not chance of survival out of it natural habitat. Browning of the tips seem natural. It requires special soil and moisture requirements, so you are going to need to do some research.
It grows and restricted to steep basaltic mountain slopes in Lesotho, it needs over 1000mm of rainfall and are under snow in the winter. I copied this out of Guides to the Aloes of South Africa. I hope I have given you enough clues to grow it sucessfully. Jeff will be able to give you more actual instructions. Regards Norma

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 10:44PM
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paracelsus

Tom, this is normal leaf senescence. It can be accelerated when conditions are a little too dry, as I suspect. It is prime growth time, and your temps are much warmer than the plant can handle. You can take out completely dried leaves if they pull out with no resistance, otherwise leave them alone. Since the plant is small, and you have the option of overwintering in brighter, warmer conditions, keeping it in active growth might be the best course action. Increase watering. Drench thoroughly, no tiny sips.

Brad

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 12:42PM
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TT, zone 5b MA

Brad and Norma - thanks for the input...

Brad - when you write "your temps are much warmer than the plant can handle" do you mean in order to induce dormancy? That's what I was trying to do, basically.

So, failing that, I can find a spot under lights in the sunroom (cooler night temps than in the house - down to around 50) or in a south window (temps range from 70 to low sixties there)...which do you think would be better for it?

Thanks!

Tom

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 12:47PM
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TT, zone 5b MA

A. poly is now under a 1000w metal halide light..I found some room. Today, it went up to 72 in there...tonight, it should drop down to around 50. Maybe a little cooler by day by the weekend...

T

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 7:10PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

What I have found having killed several is you want to keep those leaves fat and fully turgid. When they start thinning they are not getting enough water and it stresses the plant. Cool is good, and as much light (without heat) as you can give it. 50-60F is better than 70, and you already know water from underneath: keep water out of all the nooks and crannies.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 8:26PM
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cactusmcharris

Tom,

I was just going to say what hoov said - they're not digging the 70F if you're keeping them on the dry side.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 8:32PM
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TT, zone 5b MA

Jeff and hoovb -

I just moved it into the 70 degree room...it has been in the garage at 40s and 50s until now. Do you think that this is going to be too warm? It is going to be tough to find a place that will give it 50-60 with a lot of light in Sudbury, MA in December, unfortunately! This is why I was trying to lull it into a garage sleep...

Having moved it, I will increase the watering now. It definitely drinks it up pretty quickly, I have to say.

T

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 8:47PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Have you ever been to San Francisco, or the California central coast (right by the ocean, not inland)? Temps much of the time between 40 and 60, with high humidity (lots of icy cold fog). A. polyphylla loves it there.

Still I think it is going to be better off with light at 70 than in the dark at 40. Can you lower it to say 65 in the day and 50 at night?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 9:06PM
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TT, zone 5b MA

'Can you lower it to say 65 in the day and 50 at night?'

No problem there...by the time REAL winter sets in, I will be praying for 65 daytime temps in that room...

Interesting that it likes high humidity. I would not have expected that...

Thanks!

T

    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 9:11PM
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xerophyte_nyc(7)

Yellowing is normal and as others have stated, it means the soil is a little on the dry side. Increase frequency of watering. Your plant looks small enough to be able to easily transport it indoors in an emergency so why not just leave it outside? Even at that size, temps into the mid and upper 20's F are perfectly fine. My poly is still outside. It's usually not until sometime January that I finally bring it in, and then it goes right back out sometime in March.

As the plant gets larger it can handle low 20's F easily.

x

    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 8:08AM
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TT, zone 5b MA

x -

I was watering it about every two weeks, which I thought was excessive in the garage so it surprised me...but I guess it wasn't enough.

So, do you think there is any harm in leaving it under lights in my sunroom?

I have found a nice spot for it where it gets good light exposure there...and the temps should start staying in the 60s by day as the outdoor temps continue to cool down.

What do you say, fellow Northeast garage-er?

T

    Bookmark   December 15, 2011 at 10:01AM
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xerophyte_nyc(7)

I think that growth is slow enough that you wouldn't notice a short-term difference whether or not it's under lights. But what are you going to do as the plant gets bigger and heavier? You need to come up with a game plan that keeps things simple. Luckily, A poly takes the cold much better than most other succulents, so you can minimize the dreaded transition periods where its too cold outside but too warm inside.

I would still try to minimize growth indoors even under strong lights, and the only way to do this effectively is by keeping the temps low. Why are you so resistant to leaving it outside? How cold are your nights this time of year?

x

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 9:39AM
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TT, zone 5b MA

x -

Ouside (not in the garage) temps are ranging from low twenties to low thirties. Unprotected, I guess my concern would be rainfall with those temps...though it has been pretty dry lately.

What prompted me to bring it indoors from the garage was the yellowing. If you are saying that it would be okay to leave it in the garage and just water more frequently (I had been watering once every two weeks in there, so maybe once a week instead to reduce the yellowing due to drying out?) then I could go with that.

Also, in the garage I had it near a north facing window. Wonder if (with temps in the 40s and 50s out there) it is trying to grow and did not receive enough light or water.

Maybe I will put it back out if the weather starts getting consistently colder - perhaps moving it into a darker place out there. I know the goal is to shut it down, right?

T

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 9:59AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Why shut it down?

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 2:57AM
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TT, zone 5b MA

The theory being that if, in our climate, we are unable to provide optimal growth conditions at this time of year we are better off not encouraging growth at all.

Tom

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 9:31AM
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xerophyte_nyc(7)

I think that we are over-thinking this. The yellowing is more or less normal but because the plant is young and small, it is more noticeable, hence the alarm. You would not even realize the same thing on a bigger specimen.

Just leave it where it is, growth will be slow regardless. It will be plenty cold before you know it. Enjoy some NFL this weekend, forget about your plants :-)

x

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 7:04PM
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cactusmcharris

Tom,

You know I stopped growing this one after two tries, but you're a better grower than I am...

x,

So we're hoping the Jets win and the Pats get Tebowed? That would be OK.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 7:15PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I always grow these outdoors in the landscape here in the SF east Bay, and they aren't so temperature sensitive as some here would make out, 70F in the day isn't going to stress this plant if you keep it watered regularly. It is the roots that don't like to get too hot, and they tend to get those yellowed leaves when pot grown and the pot sides get heated up by mid-day sun. Where I have seen them grown in hotter parts of the SF Bay Area where it does get into the 80'sF in summer, they are best double potted so that the roots stay cooler.

Normal range of temperatures here in my part of the Bay Area where they thrive is a good stretch of cool day time temps which will vary between 50 to mid 60'sF for several months of winter, temps at night between 35 and 45 for several months. In the warmer months here, the day time temps range between 55F and 75F, nights back down to 55F. I doubt this temperature range is all that critical to match as long as the roots stay cool and hydrated, but this is what they seem to thrive on locally, I haven't lost one of the dozens I've planted out.

I would suggest you don't try to send it into winter dormancy, but keep it growing under lights or in a south facing window. 70F temps as the high during the day shouldn't harm it, but do give it a good soak to the point of seeing water drain out the bottom on a periodic basis.

Plants that I've seen with that amount of yellowing older leaves usually indicate that there has already been major loss of roots, I'd depot to see if that is the case, and up the watering. One of those Aloes that doesn't like to completely dry out, yet hates too wet saturated soil conditions as well, in my growing experience.

I'm posting a link to a photo of a nice fat Aloe polyphylla in an Oakland hills garden, probably about 6 years in the ground here, and planted on a slope.

Here is a link that might be useful: Aloe polyphylla

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 7:25PM
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TT, zone 5b MA

'So we're hoping the Jets win and the Pats get Tebowed? That would be OK.'

THAT would be more than okay. Much more...;-)

T

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 10:43PM
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TT, zone 5b MA

bahia -

That is one heck of an A. poly in that pic!

T

    Bookmark   December 17, 2011 at 10:45PM
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xerophyte_nyc(7)

I am rooting for the Jets to lose so that next week's game vs the Giants is a must win for them and big-mouth Rex Ryan can shut his hole about which team owns NY after Cruz and Nicks have a field day vs Revis + Cro.

I've had enough of Tebow already.

bahia - the issue with trying to keep A poly growing is whether or not enough light can be provided to keep growth tight during our winter doldrums. I've never tried this plant under lights so I can't comment further, but I can definitively say that keeping it chilled and dry-ish for a couple of months does no harm, and in many respects is an easier feat than summoning adequate lumens, lux or foot candles.

x

    Bookmark   December 18, 2011 at 8:05AM
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TT, zone 5b MA

x -

Careful, there may be NFC East karma to pay for rooting for the Eagles...

I bear the Giants no ill will, on the other hand. I like seeing them win. Until Christmas eve, of course. Then I expect Santa to bring me a great big Jets Christmas present...;-)

T

    Bookmark   December 18, 2011 at 8:53AM
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xerophyte_nyc(7)

Giants have already had enough bad karma from the Eagles to last decades!

I never had any negative feelings towards the Jets until the last few seasons. Trash talk from their coach is fine when it's about their upcoming opponents, but when you start yapping about the other team in town, that is uncalled for.

I have tixx to the Jets-Giants, I expect lots of Giants fans to crash the party. Will be fun!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2011 at 11:32AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I expect that those growing this back east and forcing winter dormancy would know better, and can appreciate that growing indoors with weak northern light in winter is tough to keep them looking tightly spiraled. Here's more photos of various spiral aloes in several other design client's gardens to show how easily they grow here outdoors...

Here is a link that might be useful: More Aloe polyphylla's here in the Bay Area

    Bookmark   December 18, 2011 at 2:26PM
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TT, zone 5b MA

bahia -

Nice to see all those plants I grow in pots growing in someone's ground!

T

    Bookmark   December 18, 2011 at 3:37PM
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