Aloe x ‘Wunderkind’
I found this neat little dwarf Aloe at Lowe’s on April 20, 2013 in Sedalia, Missouri. The tag just said “Aloe Hybrid” so I knew I would have to do some research.
I got online and looked for Aloe with similar color and markings and found several that could have possibly been this plant. Then I found Aloe x ‘Wunderkind’ developed by Brian Kemble. Brian is the curator at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, California. I was able to send him an email, with photos. I was glad to hear back from him and he said my plant could definitely be his hybrid called ‘Wunderkind’. SO, even though it could be a hybrid from someone else, I am sticking with ‘Wunderkind’.
Information online says that while Aloe ‘Wunderkind’ “occasionally” offsets, its parents are mostly solitary. One interesting thing about dwarf and miniature Aloe from a store is that you never know how old they are… If this hybrid “occasionally” offsets, how is it that there were 4 plants in this small pot?
Brian told me that his Aloe x ‘Wunderkind’ was the result of an unsuccessful cross between A. somaliensis var. marmorata, He says the plant “selfed” but I have no idea what that means? Maybe he was attempting a certain result and the plant did its own thing…
I really like the color of the leaves of this plant. The leaves appear to be green with silvery-green markings and margins.
During their growing period, they should be watered on a regular basis if there is no rain. Even though ther are dormant during the heat of the summer I still went over them each time I watered my potted plants. I watered my Aloe very sparingly during the winter while inside.
Normally I watered my plants in the late afternoon or early evening once the sun wasn’t shining on them. However, one morning I decided to water… Later in the afternoon, I went to check on my plants and the Aloe x ‘Wunderkind’ looked like it had been boiled. Apparently, as the sun passed overhead there was still water on its leaves and inside the rosette and it definitely was boiled… Luckily one plant in the clump survived. I never did that again!
Inside for the winter once again. I put most of my succulents on a table in the front bedroom. It was a west exposure so they received a good amount of afternoon sun and the room would sometimes get quite warm. That is not really a good combination for some succulents as they should be slowing down. It caused many succulents leaves to stretch. I found out it was better to keep certain plants in the basement over the winter. Even though they didn’t get much light, the temperature stayed around 65 degrees (F). This allowed them to go through a proper dormant period and their leaves wouldn’t stretch.
Many Aloe collectors grow their plants in full sun but I prefer morning sun and light shade the rest of the day. In Mississippi, they received a good amount of sun until about noon when they were shaded by the huge magnolia tree and the mansion the rest of the day. Here is much different. They get a little morning sun and the rest of the day they have light shade from being under an old Chinese Elm. As summer progressed and the beetles chew on the leaves of the tree, more light shines through. It works out pretty well even though I don’t care for the beetles.
I gave up most of my plants shortly after the above photo was taken. I am rebuilding my collection so maybe someday I will find another Aloe x ‘Wunderkind’.
Zones: USDA Zones 10-11 (25-40° F)
Size: 3-4” tall x 7-8” wide
Light: Light to part shade
Soil: Very well-draining soil. Good quality potting soil amended with pumice (50/50) or additional perlite and chicken grit (2-1-1).
Water: Normal watering during the growing period in the spring and autumn months and sparingly during the winter.
Propagation: From offsets
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.
*LIGHT: Most information online says Aloe “prefer” full sun but I keep mine on a west-facing front porch during the summer. There is a roof and two maple trees in the front yard that provide shade part of the day, but they still receive a few hours of direct sun. I guess you would call this “light shade”. The reason I keep them on the front porch instead of the back deck where the cactus are is because I don’t like their leaves to burn. Some species need bright light so their leaves won’t stretch, but not so much that their leaves burn. Of course, it all depends on your climate and you will just have to experiment. If you are keeping your Aloe inside for the winter and want them in the sun during the summer, you will have to allow them to get accustomed to brighter light gradually… From mid-October through April, sometimes into May, most of the succulents are sitting on shelves in a cool bedroom in front of a south-facing window.
**SOIL: As with any cactus and succulent, they need fast-draining soil. Some Aloe grow a massive root system and aren’t that particular about their potting soil. There are MANY recipes online for cactus and succulent potting soil and some can get pretty elaborate. Since 2018, I have been using 50% Miracle Grow Potting soil and 50% pumice that I ordered from General Pumice online. For many years I used 2 parts Miracle Grow or Schultz Potting Soil with 1 part additional perlite and 1 part chicken grit. If you are going to use sand in your mix, use a very coarse builders sand as the fine stuff fills in the air space between coarser ingredients. The idea is to have a lightweight potting mix that drains quickly and will dry out within a few days. As far as re-potting goes… If your plants are outgrowing their pots, you can re-pot any time. I usually re-pot my cactus in the fall and winter because peat-based mixes get hard when you stop watering. That way, their potting soil is nice and airy over the winter. Depending on their root system, increasing the diameter of the pot by 1/2-1” is enough once you remove the old soil from their roots. But, that depends on your plant… Not adding too much depth is more important because you don’t want damp soil below their roots which can lead to rotting…
***WATER: I water my succulents on a regular basis during the summer but there are many times I get busy and they get neglected. Being on the front porch with a roof, they don’t get that much rain unless it blows on them. I usually give them a good soaking a few days before an “F” is in the forecast when I have to bring them inside for the winter. From mid-October through April I water my cactus and succulents very sparingly if at all. Normally, I “may” give the Aloe a little water once a month, but for most of them I don’t give water until December or January. Aloe store water in their leaves, so they can go for a long time without additional moisture. Better to be safe than sorry over the winter months… You can tell by their leaves if they need water. If they start to curl inwards along their margins then they are needing a little water.
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. Always check for critters that may come home with the plants and keep an eye out during the winter months…
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