Cotyledon tomentosa, also known as the Bear’s paw succulent, is native to South Africa. In its native habitat, the plant grows in rocky fields and on cliffs where the porous soil gives excellent drainage. The name comes from the leaves of the plant, which have prominent “teeth” at the tips.
It is known as a succulent evergreen shrub with large chunky ovated fuzzy green leaves. If you take proper care of the Bear’s Paw succulent, you will be blessed by seeing it form large yellow, orange or red bell-shaped flowers in the spring. It can grow to be 12 inches (30 cm) tall.
This succulent will look great on your work table, blooming in a garden’s flower bed, or thriving quietly in one of the corners of your living space. Because this plant is quite fragile, it will suit a tender plant lover well.
This succulent is a very fragile one, therefore can easily suffer from overwatering and sunburn. To keep the Bear Paw succulent healthy, ensure it gets its needed light and water. . It’s best to plant them in slightly sandy, well-drained soil, where the water doesn’t collect after rain or irrigation. This plant is relatively fast-growing. They might be fragile but luckily they are easy to care for.
Cotyledon tomentosa is considered to be non-toxic. Some reports say it can be mildly toxic to pets and children. Better to make sure no animal nor child consumes it.
This plant can grow outdoors in USDA Hardiness zones 9b to 11b. If you are located in any colder climates, you can not leave the plant outside and should treat the succulent as a houseplant. You can transfer the plant outdoors in the summer months.
The plant needs a bright, shaded spot where the plant’s paws won’t get too much direct sunlight. An excellent place for your Bear’s paw would be a sunny south-facing window. It would need about six hours of sunlight daily, especially when growing the Bear’s paw indoors.
If the Bear’s paw gets too much sunlight, the tips of the leaves turn a deep red color. Intense sunlight will cause the color to fade and leggy growth. When the plant starts to get leggy, it might also be caused by a lack of light. Move it closer to a window or a well-sunlit spot.
Like other succulents, this one also stores water in its plump leaves. Bear’s paw succulent will need regular deep watering during the summer season or when there is no rainfall. Smaller plants will need ¼ cups ( 59 ml ) of water, and bigger plants 1 ½ cups ( 118 ml ) of water.
Do this once a week to keep them healthy. Bear Paw succulents like their roots soaked but need them to dry out. This succulent hates being over-watered so make sure to only water once a week. If the first few inches of soil are dry, then it is safe to water.
Soil & Fertilizer
The best choice would be to use a formulated soil for cacti and succulents. Another choice would be to use ordinary potting soil and add perlite and coarse sand to it. The pH levels of this succulent soil should be about 6, meaning slightly acidic.
In the xerophytes’ active growth periods, meaning spring and summer (April to August), they need to be fed twice a month. The best fertilizer to use would be a light balanced all-purpose water-soluble succulent fertilizer.
What makes this plant an easy-care succulent would be that it doesn’t need any pruning. However, you can remove leaves that are discolored. When removing discolored leaves remember to use sharp and clean shears or scissors.
The time to propagate would be in the spring as the plant is dormant in winter. The best way to propagate the Bear’s paw succulent is by stem cuttings:
- Cut a 6-inch (15 cm) long stem from the main plant
- Allow it to callous for a few days
- Remove the leaves from the lower half of the stem, which will go in the soil
- Place it in some well-draining soil
- Keep it in a warm spot, where the temperature is between 71 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 27 degrees Celsius)
- Care for it as usual.
- Roots should form in 3 weeks.
Their pot should always be one size bigger than their root system. Remember that this succulent doesn’t need repotting very often. If the roots have become root bound, then it is time to repot your Bear’s paw succulent.
To know if the plant is root bound check the bottom of the pot. If the roots are pushing out or are already growing out of the drainage holes, it is root bound. Even when the plant has room to grow you will still need to repot it once every two or three years.
Bear’s paw is prone to fungal diseases caused by over-watering. To save the Bear Paw from any diseases, you would need to repot the plant without wet substrate immediately. Remember to completely clean the roots of the wet soil, and cut off any rotten parts with sharp, disinfected shears or scissors. Pot into fresh, dry succulent soil.
The Bear Paw succulent is mostly infected by mealybugs, spider mites, and scales. Always keep an eye on your plant to spot the pests earlier, for easy removal. To remove the pests use a cotton swab dabbed in rubbing alcohol. Place the cotton swab directly on the pests.
This humble yet beautiful succulent will suit any scenery. It can make any household more cozy and warm. With proper care, it will bless you with its gorgeous blooms.
Anyone with some interest in plants will do just fine in taking care of the Bear’s paw succulent. Because this succulent is very rare, having it in your home will make for a great conversation starter.