Star Aloe Hybrids Update – New Photos, New Hybrids

blue castilloniae

Written ByJen Greene

Posted: May 2, 2023

I keep telling myself I have enough aloe hybrids, that I don’t need more, and where am I even going to put them, anyway?

But then I see a new one at a local show or club meeting, and of course, it just has to come home with me. These are so easy to care for, delightful in appearance, and bright, that it’s hard to resist.

And by hard, I mean impossible.

Let me show you a few of the newest aloes in my collection, and I’ll share a few updated photos of some of my originals. I’ve recently moved nearly all of my aloes from my greenhouse back to outdoors; in the greenhouse, the aloes tended to get too hot and dry out too quickly but not get intense enough sunlight for their best appearance.

Also, in case you’re wondering – NOID means “no i.d.”, or no identification. It’s common plant shorthand, or slang, for when you have a cool plant, you know it’s probably a certain species or named cultivar, but you have no proof or provenance to back it up. You can score some very remarkable looking plants if you’re willing to overlook have a precise name! 

Care At A Glance

Temperatures: Hardy down to 32F for short periods; can tolerate light frost but will likely scar.

Light: Partial shade to full sun. More sun = more intense coloration, although they can burn if moved too quickly.

Watering Needs: Let dry completely before watering again; when the leaves start to curve inward, it’s very thirsty and could use a drink.

Soil: Porous, well-draining. You can use dedicated succulent soil, or mix 25 – 50% pumice with a standard houseplant mix. 

Fertilizer: Balanced 1:1:1 at half strength as you feel like it. Little to none is needed, but if you don’t repot often, they’ll appreciate it in spring.

Aloe “Coral Fire” 

New Additions

At the SDCSS Winter Show & Sale, I was able to snag some named hybrids I’d never seen before. One of the best reasons to attend your local club shows and sales is to find plants you might not see otherwise, and this year was no exception. I picked up 4 total hybrids in varying states of being established pups from what I assume were larger plants. 

Something unique about sale and show plants as opposed to the more common hybrids you may find at the big box stores or available online (including the original few hybrids I picked up!) is that they’re most often pups from other plants. Most of the aloe hybrids you find readily available are tissue cultured clones of particularly attractive crosses, typically produced by Altman Plants. Since the clones are patented, you can’t propagate them yourself via tissue culture, but dividing an enthusiastic plant and selling the pups isn’t much of an issue. 

The plants grown from division, rather than tissue culture, tend to develop more unique characteristics and look less like someone used a cookie-cutter to create the aloe. Over time, even tissue cultured plants lose that slightly manufactured perfection appearance, and you can have a very impressive and unique aloe in your collection. 

Aloe “Christmas Carol”

At the top of the list of plants acquired by dividing pups from a larger plant, this Aloe “Christmas Carol”.

When less stressed than my example currently is, they have beautiful deep green leaf centers with dark red ridges and margins. They grow with a flat habit in comparison to some of the other hybrids I’ll share, and the leaves almost curl back as they expand over the pot.

I’ve tried “Christmas Sleigh” in the past and murdered them quite thoroughly, in a variety of ways, so I’m hoping to do better with this pretty little thing.

Aloe “Crimson Dragon”

This looks like if someone combined the brightness I love from Sidewinder with the texture of a castilloniae and then just cranked up the intensity of the reds and oranges. Beautiful hybrid with rich colors and long, slender leaves. Still a flat star growth habit rather than upright, but not as curvy as a Christmas-line hybrid.

Aloe “Orange Marmalade” 

While I did pull most of my aloe hybrids out of the greenhouse, there were a couple from the show and sale that weren’t well-established with roots. This little Orange Marmalade is one with next to no roots, so I kept it sheltered and in a spot where it would be watered regularly to keep it from getting too dessicated. 

With a bit of babying, it’s doing well, and it’s quite a pretty shade of purple-blue with orange texture. You can see the new growth at center is coming in pale and green, but I’ll take that for now to ensure the roots develop. In another month or two, I’ll move it outside with the others.

Aloe “Sky Dragon”

I’ll admit, half of why I brought this home was the name.

It was also a unique pattern and appearance! Leaves are pale to dark lavender, with pale white/yellow spotting and pink edges. Compared to the more commonplace/currently popular hybrids with prolific leaf ridging and red hues, this reminded me more of the “snow drift” hybrids with their smooth leaves.

This also had few roots, and has been babied in the greenhouse until it’s more established.

Aloe “Intense”

Having just mentioned that I liked the Sky Dragon for not being of the same trend as the heavily textured clones, there’s this new acquisition. I love it, I can’t even pretend not to. I snagged it from Kelly Griffin’s table at one of the few meetings where he brought plants to sell. His latest hybrids have been increasingly striking and almost alient-looking with texture.

The name is well-deserved, with purple leaves, dark red texture, and dark red edges. I had it in the greenhouse for a while, where the single head began to pup, but it looks so much better outdoors in nearly full sunlight. I’m debating what sort of pot would work to plant it in so I can bring it for the summer show! 

Might Be New

There’s a couple hybrids I’ve had for over a year, maybe closer to two, but I can’t remember if I’ve posted them already. I purchased these either online, via Etsy, or found at local nurseries. 

Aloe “Piranha” (?) 

This arrived as a small pup with just a single stem, and once it established its root system, began exploding with pups.

Google’s results for this particular cultivar are widely varied, and when I ordered this plant, it was labeled as a Karen Zimmerman hybrid. However, I see on on Rancho Tissue’s site that it’s considered a hybrid created by Larry Weisel. I’ll freely admit I don’t know enough to say for certain, and that considering my ignorance, this is probably more of a NOID than a true ‘piranha’.

This site, while older, also backs up the probability that this is something very pretty, but not what it was sold as.

Aloe NOID – Dracula’s Blood?

I snagged this as an unlabeled but very cool looking hybrid while visiting Solana Succulents last year. I’d seen photos in an Aloe group on Facebook of “Dracula’s blood” and was optimistic this could be one – Jeff, the proprietor, had a bunch of gasteria and aloes from a collector that had no labels. Either way, it’s beautiful, grows well, and has a dramatic difference between the sunny side and the shaded side!

Aloe “La Jour Pequeno”

This looks so much different than the day I bought it, it’s unrecognizable. 

At right (in the shade) is the plant when I brought it home in August 2021. I’m not sure how it was grown, just that I picked it up from Gnosis Nursery with a hand-written label that I recognized as Kelly Griffin’s handwriting (I’ve seen enough labels at the plant meetings to know!). 

Here, it had long thin leaves, a curve to them, and very upright growth. 

Below is the same plant now, April 2023! Thick, fat leaves that are shorter and denser, with the original stem also producing the short, chunky leaves. If I didn’t have it in the exact same pot I first potted it up into, I wouldn’t believe these were the same. 

A prime example of why tissue-cultured plants come from the nursery looking identical, but as time goes on and they’re propagated by pups, they can look dramatically different. Also why it’s important to know where your hybrids come from! 

Aloe “Raspberry Ruffles” 

A pretty little hybrid I picked up from Botanic Wonders late 2021 or in 2022. The original plant became so dense with pups and overgrown I had to divide it, and offered several rooted pups for sale through my Etsy shop. 

The smaller pups from that batch are now well rooted and getting big, so expect to see them in my new shop here on the website if I don’t hold them back to sell at the SDCSS Summer Show & Sale! 

Easy to see why it’s such a popular hybrid – purple, pink, with a hint of red when exposed to full sun and a highly prolific pupper. I have the pot of the base of this plant in my greenhouse, and already it’s made 10+ new heads. 

Aloe “Sunrise”

A beautiful, pastel-orange and yellow hybrid I picked up from Jeff over at Solana Succulents.

In full sun it looks its best, demonstrating the palette of colors that earned it the name. In shade (shown below), you still see the hues, but with more green and softer colors. 

Collection Updates 

Some of my favorites still in pots that are looking excellent. I decided to move all the aloes out of the greenhouse after talking to Peter W. at the winter SDCSS show & sale – he’s a well-known figure in our area with a collection most of us can only dream of. When we talked, he explained he never kept any of his winter growers in his greenhouse for a pretty simple reason: our climate works perfectly for them. 

I’d always struggled with the aloes getting adequate water in the greenhouse, and they never really seemed to thrive in there, even in winter. Colors weren’t as bright or intense, despite showing clear water stress or if I removed the shade cloth above them. 

Within a few weeks of being outdoors, getting rained on, and then beat on by our San Diego sunshine, they’re looking fantastic. Your mileage may vary, of course, but if you can grow your star aloes outdoors during the warmer months, you’ll really see a benefit in the color. 

Aloe “Blue Castilloniae”

A hybrid I picked up from an Altman’s Plants outlet at the beginning of the pandemic, it’s one of the specimens that really struggled in the greenhouse.

Since moving it outdoors, it’s plumped up, and is actively producing new growth, better bloom stalks, and much more of them. 

It is also very distinctly blue, even being grown near the back of the wire shelf I have it on, where it’s shaded much of the day. Now that it’s thriving, I’m optimistic it’ll start pupping like my other hybrids have been in recent months…which means I can chop and prop! 

blue castilloniae

Aloe “Delta Rose” 

This was one that never got the intense color I liked when in the greenhouse. Now that it’s out in the full sun – it’s so intense! I love it. 

I have it growing in a 10″ round dish, where it can expand and sprawl and be the beautiful space-hog that it really wants to be. Commonly available at big box stores and hugely underrated, in my opinion. 

Aloe “Purple Haze” 

This hybrid was very slow to get going, but once it did – it’s really filled in the pot I have it in. I’m reluctant to divide it purely because it took nearly 4 years to get to this point! 

Being in nearly full sun has really brought out the red edging, which was much less prominent in the greenhouse. Compared to other hybrids that lost intensity, however, this one never lost the purple coloration. 

It is exploding with blooms, and in fact, there are so many stalks poking out the top of the wire shelves that I couldn’t move it too far for a photo. With how many hummingbirds love to drink from these flowers, I try to leave them whenever I can! 

Aloe “Delta Lights” 

Another underrated Delta-family hybrid, in full sun, you can see how it earned its name! 

It is cheerfully producing quite a few pups, and may be full enough to divide and repot by the end of summer. Easy grower, beautiful pastel shades, and blooms anytime it’s happy enough. 

Aloe “NOID” 

This was an unlabeled hybrid from the Altman’s outlet that’s in my city, one that turns brilliant orange in full sun but reverts to this pretty orange and green with part shade. I have some pups in-ground by my tree aloes that are thoroughly abused by the chickens, and they don’t even look related due to how different the colors are. 

This was a single head I planted and kept from the original clump I bought in 2020, and it’s been a delightful easy keeper ever since. 

I swear someone following me on Instagram had sent a possible name for it, but I’ve lost the message and what I had it labeled as. Since it had no label from the grower, the ethical thing to do is keep calling it NOID anyway – but it’d be cool to know! 

And that’s a wrap for today! I still have several in-ground that are doing moderately well, but I think I’ll be pulling them up to plant something else that blooms more often. Maybe just putting in a better and longer-lasting setup for a bird bath fountain; we’ll see! 

If you’d like to keep up on more current posts of the plants in my collection, find me on Instagram @Trexplants! 

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