Aloe x ‘Cha Cha’
I received a message from Nico Britsch of Succulent Market and he said he would send me some plants if I mentioned his website… He further said he is the third generation of cactus and succulent farmers from California. I wrote a post about the plants he sent which you can view by clicking HERE.
The plants arrived on August 27 but I was fairly busy so I didn’t take many photos and measurements until October 6 (2020). The plants arrived in amazing condition and were well packed. The small clump of Aloe x ‘Cha Cha’ measured 3″ tall x 6 3/4″ wide and were in a 4″ pot.
There isn’t much online about this miniature hybrid except for websites selling them. I did read that it is a John Bleck hybrid and possibly Aloe descoingsii is one of the parents. Mr. Bleck is one of the foremost Aloe hybridizers in the country (as well as many other hybrids) and he used A. descoingsii as a parent in a number of his creations.
I am not even sure what the mature measurements of the Aloe x ‘Cha Cha’ will be, but being a miniature I am guessing 4-6″. Of course, it is a clumper and there are already a MULTIPLE of offsets in the pot.
I don’t have much experience with this plant yet, but judging by the way the leaves are sort of shriveled, which may be a characteristic, it could be picky about its watering needs… BUT, it is winter when I am writing this page, so I am a little reluctant to water it very much… Time will tell…
This plant did send up a flower stem a week or so after I brought the plants inside for the winter on October 15…
The Aloe ‘Cha Cha’ has done very well over the summer and has grown to 3 3/4″ tall x 7″ wide. It has grown 3/4″ taller and 1/4″ wider since it arrived.
Zones: USDA Zones 9b-11 (25 to 40° F/-3.8 to 4.5° C)
Size: Don’t know yet, possibly 4-6”.
*Light: Light to part shade. I would NOT recommend this plant being un full sun…
***Soil: Very well-draining. I use 50% Miracle Grow Potting Soil with 50% pumice.
***Water: Regular watering during the growing season and about once a month during the winter or as needed. If the leaves start to shrivel, then it needs water. Normally I would say if the leaves don’t shrivel don’t water, but this one may be a little different…
Aloe and their cousins are some of my favorite plants. They are very easy to keep as companions as long as you follow a few basic rules. Even so, there have been a few I have had ups and downs with but eventually, we get it figured out, or at least we agree to disagree. Normally, it has something to do with water. You can’t lump all succulents in the same category when it comes to care because many are very unique in their preferences…
Aloe and their cousins are considered a summer dormant/winter growing species but for me, they seem to grow pretty much year-round. I read where Aloe hybrids don’t go dormant and whether they are summer or winter dormant depends on where the species are native. Personally, I think most Aloe will grow year-round if given the opportunity but I am no expert. For me, I think they do most of their growing while outside from May through mid-October, but most show no sign of being dormant while inside for the winter. Their growth does slow down while inside over the winter and I pretty much withhold their watering to a little once a month if necessary.
*During the summer, I keep most of my cactus on the back deck where they receive full sun. During the winter most cactus aren’t picky about the light because they are basically dormant. For several winters, mine were in front of the east-facing sliding door in the dining room so they didn’t get much light but they did great. I built a new shelf for the bedroom so now they are in front of a west-facing window. Most of the succulents are on a shelf in a south-facing window in a cool bedroom but a few are in my bedroom. I put the Aloe x ‘Cha Cha’ on the shelf in the cooler back bedroom in front of a south-facing window but I may move it to my bedroom… During the summer I keep the Aloe on the front porch on the west side of the house where they are in bright light all day. They receive direct sun a few hour hours a day and shade in the late afternoon. I don’t like my Aloe in full sun because their leaves burn…
**When it comes to potting soil, finding the “sweet spot” is not exactly that easy when materials are limited. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts (and experts) do not recommend using peat-based commercial mixes but what choice is there for most of us. They say to use a loam-based mix… Hmmm… Our soil is loam, so do I just use dirt? Well, no because “dirt” is heavy and you need a “light” material. There is A LOT of cactus and succulent recipes online and some get pretty elaborate. Many say to use sand as an ingredient, but if you do that, it needs to be very coarse, like builders sand, because “ordinary” sand, like for sandboxes, is too fine and it clogs up the air space between the coarser ingredients. For MANY years I used 2 parts Miracle Grow or Schultz Potting amended with an additional 1 part of perlite and 1 part chicken grit. Schultz doesn’t seem to have as many large pieces of bark. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts recommended using pumice instead of perlite and grit so I checked it out… The “guy” at General Pumice (online) recommended using a 50/50 mix of potting soil and pumice. General Pumice has 3 different sizes to choose from depending on the size of the pot. SO, in 2018 I bought a bag of 1/8″ and mixed it 50/50 with Miracle Grow Potting Soil. I liked it pretty well. Then in 2020, since most of the cactus were in larger pots, I ordered the 1/4″ size. Pumice has a lot of benefits over perlite and has nutrients that are added to the soil when watering. Pumice is also heavier so it stays mixed in the soil instead of “floating” to the top. Still, there is the issue of the mix getting very hard once you stop watering the plants during the winter when you stop watering. I think this is because of the peat in the potting soil… SO, instead of re-potting the cactus and succulents in the spring, I started doing it during the fall and winter so their soil would be loose. Since you don’t water as frequently during the winter if at all, the timed-release fertilizer does not activate. I have not tried coir, but I am looking into it…
You have to sort of mimic the soil where species grow in their native habitat. For that, you almost have to go see for yourself… Typically, they grow in fairly rocky soil.
***I water my cactus and succulents on a regular basis during the summer but barely ever in the winter until close to time to take them back outside. That really depends on the plant, and with Aloe, you just have to watch their leaves. If their leaves start curling toward the middle along the margins then they should have a “little” water. But, this may not be the case. I have Aloe whose leaves are always somewhat shriveled… If your “cluster” of Aloe has a lot of leaves, water may run off instead of getting into the soil… Their leaves store water so they can survive drought very well. In the cooler months, I would be cautious about watering if your plants are in a cooler room. If they are in a warm room, then a little once a month would be fine… Just get to know your plants. Not enough water is MUCH better than too much.
When you bring your new plants home from the store, you need to check their roots and the soil to see if they are wet. If so, you may want to re-pot it right away. It is advisable to re-pot them in a better potting soil more suitable for cactus and succulents.
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