Aloe collector in 9A/Texas. Care and ID guides, photos of Aloe varieties, and general Aloe nerd ramblings. I’ve grown Aloes about 15 years in all kinds of conditions (at least the conditions SE Texas gives me)…my advice here is based on that and advice taken/learned from expert growers.
Probably one of the first hybrids I bought when I started getting into succulents and Aloes. Not as interesting to some probably, since it’s not super showy in color or texture compared to some of the other complex hybrids, but it’s a great clumper and bloomer. And I like the color and texture/pattern 🤷♀️
‘Lizard Lips’ is a John Bleck hybrid, and most sources have it’s parentage listed as (Aloe descoingsii x Aloe calcairophila) x Aloe bellatula. I bought the large clump above labeled as a Star Aloe from Altman’s, though it said it was Kelly Griffin’s ‘Guido’ (aka ‘Silver Star’), not ‘Lizard Lips’. That hybrid has a different pattern and mine blushes more pink than brown.
One of the more recent Star Aloe hybrids from Altman Plants, can’t find any patent info on it yet. In one of the FB groups, Kelly Griffin noted that there are similarities to Mauna Loa, but Sleigh Bells is larger and generally more solitary.
Not an Altman’s Star Aloe, but a somewhat common one since Mountain Crest Gardens and a couple other popular nurseries sell it. Figured I’d post about it to clear up the confusing name, since it is misleading…’Fragilis’ is what it’s sold as, but fragilis is a species and it’s unlikely it has anything to do with whatever this hybrid is. The FB hybrid group has decided it is probably actually ‘Marlin’, one of Larry Weisel’s fish series. With all the other misidentifications on their site, at this point I don’t trust MCG’s labeling at all. Some nurseries like to take other people’s hybrids and put their own names on them (‘DZ’ and ‘Bright Star’ are sold as ‘Dannyz’, MCG took the Wright hybrid ‘Harry Butterfield’ and sold it as ‘Summer Sky’, ‘Brass Hat’ is sold as ‘Mancave’, ‘Pink Blush’ is sold as ‘Petrus Pink’, etc.)
Here are more photos of the plant sold as ‘Fragilis’, which is more likely ‘Marlin’ –
Sidewinder is an older Kelly Griffin hybrid being sold under the Star Aloe label from Altman Plants, though it is probably one of the easier ones to find elsewhere. It’s a larger growing hybrid whose parentage includes Sunrise, Delta Lights and Neon Lights.
Since there isn’t always a lot of good info online when people want to look up a name they are given for their hybrids (or look up what name is on the pot), I thought I’d start posting mine all individually with photos and whatever info I have of them…and hopefully that will come up on searches. I’ll start with the Altman hybrids that I have, since they are the most common in the US.
Don’t use plant apps to try and ID your hybrid. It will NOT get it correct. You can try succulent groups on FB or reddit, but you’ll still likely get wrong answers. The best group for having Aloe hybrids IDed is either Hybrid Aloe Lovers or All That Is Kelly Griffin on FB, or either r/Aloe or r/Agave and Aloe on reddit. I’m a mod in the Aloe subreddit. And as for the two Aloe groups on FB I suggested, those are run by and filled with people that could run circles around me with their knowledge.
I’ll start with the Star Aloes from Altman Plants, this post will be for Purple People Eater. The Star Aloes are the brand name Altman’s has been using to sell certain hybrids under since about 2018 or 2019. They released a few new hybrids and added some of their older ones to the line. They come in white pots, either wrapped in white with a 5” black plastic pot underneath or in a 3” white ceramic pot. They are also sold in the larger black Altman pots without white wrapping. The cultivar names are hidden on the barcode stickers, but Altman’s labeling is not always correct since it’s such a huge operation. The barcode stickers can be found either on the Star Aloe tag or somewhere on the pot. They supply the big box stores…Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart. I’ve even seen posts of people finding Star Aloes at Sprouts, so there are probably other stores as well. Most of the Star Aloes are Kelly Griffin hybrids, but they do have other hybridizers working there with him.
And fwiw, if you are going to start collecting these or even if you just have one or two…educate yourself on preventing and treating Aloe mites, and invest in a good systemic miticide. There is a lot of good info in the Hybrid Aloe Lovers group. But with these Altman hybrids, it’s better safe to assume they are all affected than to assume they are ok because they don’t have any galls (yet.) I have seen so much more Aloe mite since these have become more common…even in the stores, there are plants covered in galls. The mites are treatable! They just spread very easily between Aloes and their relatives and it’s something you really need to stay on top of.
Ok, onto ‘Purple People Eater’…this is the one I wanted the most when I first saw the new hybrids and people started posting photos of theirs…it’s a larger growing hybrid, chunky with nice texture and a great range of colors in full sun. Care is like most other Aloes – lots of sun (just slowly acclimate them), very well draining soil, and drench well but infrequently. I have better luck keeping most of these hybrids out of the rain, but it usually rains a lot here. It might take some experimenting to find the best spot for them depending on your environment. These can take full sun here in Texas.
There’s a good range of photos to compare and see the characteristics. There are photo albums of different hybrids in the FB groups I mentioned above as well, those are good resources to compare plants to. Stay tuned for more hybrid posts!
Update 5/21/22 – I never did anything with these 🤷 I got a new job, keep getting sick, and just haven’t kept up with some things. Maybe I’ll try again some other time.
I had this idea because one of the things I see a lot when people are arguing about whether or not Aloes can be rooted from leaf cuttings (spoiler: they can’t) is someone coming along and saying something like- “I grow them from leaves all the time, you just need to pull the new leaves from the bottom!”
Yeah, people are mistaking offsets for leaves. So I grabbed a couple chinensis plants, the easiest to experiment with because of how prolific they are, and took some photos to hopefully help. If you’re worried about the colors on some of these check out some of my other articles, like the ones on direct sun and why Aloes turn brown. It’s cold here right now, so a lot of my plants have their “winter colors”…none are sunburned, rotting, or unhappy. The brown on the stems is also normal (as long as it’s not clear and mushy.)
New leaves grow from the center of the Aloe plant. The “new leaves” at the base are whole new plants, just young ones. This is how Aloes propagate the easiest…by dividing offsets. Pull or dig them up gently once they are large enough (the bigger, the better), they should have some roots but if not, that’s ok too! They’ll root easily enough in a good gritty mix.
Leaves will not propagate, no matter how hard some people push it. Doesn’t matter how you cut it, which leaves you use, or which Aloe species/variety it is. I don’t care if you saw it on YouTube…there’s people on YouTube that also think the earth is flat lol! And it’s not about the water content in the leaves like some sites claim…that’s not what makes it impossible (not just difficult.) Aloes need stem tissue to propagate. Sometimes cutting a leaf near the base where it meets the stem will give it just enough stem tissue to form roots, but that’s all it will do. Pay attention to the sites and videos claiming Aloes can be propagated from leaves…notice how they never show proof? And I mean actual proof, not the one guy that got Gasteraloe leaves to root or the other that pulled up a stem cutting at the end of the video…just to mislead people that don’t know they are being mislead. Now go look for Haworthia and Gasteria leaf propagation…lots of proof there, because those Aloe relatives CAN be propagated from leaves.
So I’ll let the cuttings I took callous a couple days and then pot them up. As they root (or not) I’ll post updates on their progress.
Came home from visiting family in Oklahoma with four unruly pots of an indoor chinensis plant…cleaned them up and repotted most of them this morning. I kept a few pieces out to repot separately and experiment with in different growing conditions. I’d like to bring one indoors once cleaned up and repotted in my gritty mix (because I kinda do like the way they are growing), but gotta find a good spot the cats can’t get to. I have limited places for plants indoors lol..I don’t usually keep houseplants, but this house has some good spots for them.
Here are some before photos…long, twisted stems, thin, deflated leaves, juvenile distichous form, lots of old dead leaves and very little roots. They’d been growing a long time like this, but were surviving anyway. This is the growth habit a lot of indoor growers are familiar with, at least with this variety. “True” vera will form a rosette quicker, not fill the pot so fast with pups, but tends to have thin, droopy leaves and poor roots too. But these conditions are where a lot of the common (but mostly wrong) advice you see out there for Aloes comes from…it’s based on unhealthy indoor vera plants. They aren’t supposed to be droopy, twisted messes with little to no roots.
I pulled them all out of their pots, cleaned up the dead leaves, shortened some stems if they were too curled or had dead parts, dumped the soil they were in and repotted them all in my turface/expanded shale/potting soil mix. The soil they were in was old and too dense, and I didn’t want to reuse any of it. I didn’t let them callous or anything and the soil mix is kinda damp because it rained and I wasn’t home to cover my soil bucket, but most of them should be fine (and they’ll shoot out more pups to fill in for the ones that don’t make it in no time!) It’s still hot enough the soil won’t stay damp long. I’ll leave them on the front porch out of direct sun for a while to acclimate, eventually moving some of them around elsewhere to get more sun and take photos of their progress along the way.
Update – 5/20/22. I’ll post pics below. Some spent the winter indoors (being terrorized by my cats, who are fine btw), some in the greenhouse. Most are doing well…I lost a few and some still are stressed (or stressed again with the heat), but there’s lots of new growth now that it’s warmed up (or staying warm, we had a warm-ish winter too) and they are getting more regular water.
Check out my other posts for care advice. Avoid the Facebook group “Aloe help and varieties (and succulents)” because you’ll just get bad advice there. Check out my other posts for care guides and info on this variety.
Key Lime is a newer Kelly Griffin/Altman Plants hybrid sold under the “Star Aloe” label. I feel like I say “it’s a nice little plant” a lot, but…it’s true lol 🤷♀️ All the hybrids are nice little plants, and I really enjoy figuring out all the details that make them different from one another, and trying different growing conditions to see how they change. Here are some photos showing examples of that.
I first bought this plant in an overcrowded clump back in 2016. It’s a pretty easy variety, though gets kinda fungus-y with the rain and humidity here. Likes full sun. Often misIDed as vera or ‘Blue Elf’. Here’s a few photos of my plants.
I can’t remember exactly when I bought this one on ebay, but it was probably sometime between 2014-2016. My first Aloe was the chinensis variety, I got that in 2006 when my mom gave me an extra pot of hers after I moved out. We’d always just called that Aloe vera, like most people probably call many kinds of Aloe “Aloe Vera”. Then I actually started learning more about Aloes and realized that wasn’t really Aloe vera..and I didn’t have one lol. So I bought two pups..I still have the other one as well but I’ve kept it in different conditions and it hasn’t grown as large or as quickly. They both stayed kinda small and scraggly until I moved out of the apartment with the shaded patio and into a place with full sun…after a bit of stress and adjusting, all of my plants really took off. I know I harp on the indirect vs direct sun stuff a lot, among other things, and this is why. I have grown them in all kinds of conditions and they’ve done the best when they get a lot of sun.