Aloe "Christmas Carole" - Cactus Club

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Aloe "Christmas Carole"

Plant of the Month > Species A to B

 Aloe "Christmas Carole" is a relatively recent introduction, but has become practically an overnight sensation amongst succulent enthusiasts. Plants which have been grown in good light produce a remarkable degree of coloration in their leaves, with the leaf margins, and "teeth" bearing carmine to deep red coloration, against a greenish/grey background; in addition, my plant also exhibits a high degree of pale yellow variegation (which is not always evident on the photographs of this variety which I have seen on the web). This is a smallish plant, usually available in small pots with rosettes from about 3 to 6 inches across, but older plants may eventually reach a height and diameter to nearly 12 inches. Even at smaller sizes, it produces numerous offsets at its base, and will eventually fill a larger planter with clusters of rosettes. It is also capable of producing a number of kiekis on its flower stems. These keikis provide another opportunity to propagate additional plants from this plant. This cultivar is a complex hybrid which involved several crosses with several species and cultivars. The following information comes from the website of San Marcos Growers, it provides some additional information on the parentage of this plant, as well as a few additional bits of information on its appearance and cold tolerance:

(San Marcos Growers is a nursery based in southern California - just north of Santa Barbara: while Aloe "Christmas Carol" may be a hardy perennial in Southern California - in most regions of the United States, it should be wintered indoors)

Aloe 'Christmas Carol' - This small aloe produces rosettes to under 1 foot tall and wide with 6 inch long deep green lance-shaped leaves that have vibrant dark raised red markings, some soft but spinelike, down the center and along the leaf margin. The flowers, which first appeared for us in fall, are reddish pink, though it is often described by others as orange. This Kelly Griffin hybrid is what Kelly calls a multi-generation hybrid that possibly includes the legendary and beautiful Aloe 'Doran Black' as a parent or at the least shares some of its appearance - 'Doran Black' is a Dick Wright hybrid that involved hybrid plants of Aloe rauhii crossed with A. descognsii. 'Christmas Carol' has all the beauty of 'Doran Black' with the addition of vibrant red colors in the leaves. It should prove a great plant for a small scale ground cover, in the rock garden or for container gardening. Plant in full sun to light shade (color best with brighter light) in a well-drained soil with occasional irrigation. Likely hardy to the mid 20's F but not well documented. This description of this plant is based on our research and our observations of it growing at the nursery, in our own garden and in other gardens.

   This is an easy and undemanding plant; it does well with my basic recommendations for growing cacti and other succulents. The key to producing a plant with exceptional color is to grow it in very good light: preferably (when adequately acclimatized), to be grown outdoors to benefit from summer temperatures and direct sunlight. It makes an excellent addition to a summer succulent planter, to be over-wintered indoors. While this plant can be maintained year round as a house plant, and will produce reasonable growth when grown indoors by a sunny window; even under the best of circumstances, its colors will be muted at best, and may tend to acquire a rather insipid coloration under less than optimal lighting conditions. While it appears that this plant may survive very brief periods of hard frosts, I believe that it should not be subjected to extended periods of very cool temperatures - even during its winter dormancy.  During this dormancy, I suspect that it should probably be maintained at temperatures above 50 degrees for best health (this is a nod to one of its suspected parent species (Aloe descognsii) a Madagascan species which is generally sensitive to extreme cold).

   My plant, being variegated , is not entirely stable, and will occasionally produce offsets with traits which are similar to aloe "Pink Blush". While I have not yet seen this plant in any of the "big box" nurseries, it has been available from a number of mail order nurseries, including The Glasshouse Works, and has been available locally (and seasonally) from Bakers Acres. I expect that in the near future, this plant will even find its way into the "Big Box" nurseries.

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