The Enchanting Bear Paw Succulent: A Complete Care Guide

The Bear paw succulent, scientifically known as Cotyledon tomentosa, is a charming and petite plant that thrives as an indoor potted plant. With its plump, fuzzy green leaves that resemble tiny bear claws, this succulent is both adorable and easy to care for.

Bear Paw Succulent Care: A South African Beauty

Native to the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, the Cotyledon tomentosa is found in rocky areas and cliffs. This unique succulent has gained popularity for its cute appearance and adaptability to various conditions.

Botanical name: Cotyledon tomentosa. Common names: Bear paw, Bear claw succulent, Bear paw cactus, or Cat or Kitten’s Paw succulent.

Light Requirement: Basking in Sunshine

Indoors, provide your bear paw succulent with as much light as possible. Position it in a bright south-facing window, ensuring it receives approximately six hours of indirect sunlight daily. While excessive bright light may cause red tips on the leaves, rotating the plant regularly will promote balanced growth.

While the bear paw can tolerate lower light conditions, be aware that its color and variegation may fade, and growth may slow down, resulting in leggy growth. To supplement insufficient light, consider using a grow light.

Avoid exposing the plant to direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves, leading to unsightly dry brown spots. Either move the plant away from the window or filter the light with a sheer curtain.

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Watering: Embracing Drought Resistance

The bear paw succulent is highly resilient to drought, thanks to its water-storing leaves, a characteristic common among succulents. When it comes to watering, allow the soil to completely dry out between waterings. Employ the soak-and-dry method by saturating the soil, then let it dry out before watering again, particularly during spring and summer.

Overwatering is a common issue with bear paw succulents, leading to root rot. Avoid watering too often, as overwatered leaves become soft, mushy, yellow, and eventually drop off. If you’re unsure whether it’s time to water, it’s better to err on the side of caution and wait. Underwatering is easier to remedy than overwatering.

Fertilizing: A Light Nutritional Boost

Bear paws do not require excessive fertilization. You can supplement poor soil or provide a growth boost during the growing season by fertilizing once a month in spring and summer using a diluted liquid succulent fertilizer. Refrain from fertilizing during winter when the plant’s growth naturally slows down.

Remember, it’s better to under-fertilize than over-fertilize, as excessive nutrients can harm the plant. If you notice signs of fertilizer burn, such as brown or crispy leaf tips, reduce the frequency or strength of the fertilizer.

Humidity: Thriving in Moderate Conditions

Bear paw succulents thrive in warm temperatures and are relatively low-maintenance when it comes to humidity. While they prefer medium to high humidity levels, they can adapt and grow in lower household humidity conditions. There’s no need for misting or using a humidifier to raise the humidity level.

Soil and Repotting: A Home for Growth

Bear paw succulents do not require frequent repotting. When their roots have filled the pot or are growing from the bottom, repot in a pot one size up during spring. Repotting every two to three years, even if there is room for growth, ensures the soil’s nutrients are replenished with fresh, well-draining succulent soil.

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When repotting, ensure the new pot has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent excess water from drowning the roots. Spring is the ideal time for repotting, as the plant is in the best condition to handle the process. Wait for at least four to six months after repotting before using any fertilizer, as the potting mix generally contains sufficient nutrients.

Bear Paw Succulent Propagation: A Green Thumb’s Delight

Bear paw succulents are best propagated through stem cuttings rooted in soil. While single leaves can be propagated, their success rate is generally lower. Propagation can be carried out at any time of the year, but it’s most successful during the active growing period in spring or early summer, when warmer weather and abundant light promote new growth.

Propagate Bear Paw Cuttings in Soil

The easiest way to propagate your bear paw succulent is by planting stem cuttings in soil.

  • Take a stem cutting with a few sets of leaves, removing the bottom leaves.
  • Allow the cutting to dry and form a callus for approximately 2-3 days.
  • Plant the cutting in potting soil, ensuring the part where the bottom leaves were removed is covered.
  • Place the cuttings in indirect light and water them lightly.
  • Once you observe new growth, continue with regular care for the plant.

To expedite the propagation process, consider using a rooting hormone powder on your cuttings. Before planting, dip the bottom 1/4 inch of the cuttings in water, then in rooting powder.

The Blossoming Bear Paw: Flowers and Foliage

Under the right conditions and with plenty of light, bear paw succulents can produce beautiful flowers indoors. Blooming usually occurs in spring, although it’s important to note that not all indoor succulents, including bear paws, will bloom.

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The flowers exhibit a lovely bell shape and come in shades of light yellow, pink, and orange.

Troubleshooting: Leaf Dropping and Leggy Growth

To maintain a healthy bear paw succulent, it’s essential to address common issues such as leaf dropping and leggy growth.

Falling off of old leaves while new ones grow is a natural process. However, if excessive leaf drop occurs, particularly accompanied by yellowing, this may indicate overwatering. On the other hand, dry and shriveled leaves suggest underwatering, indicating the need for a thorough soak.

For leggy growth, which is characterized by elongated stems and the plant leaning towards one side, lack of sufficient light is typically the cause. To prevent leggy growth, move the plant closer to a window or consider using a plant grow lamp.

Bear Paw Succulents and Pet Safety

While the Cotyledon tomentosa is considered mildly toxic when ingested, severe harm from eating this plant is uncommon for pets. Nonetheless, it’s advisable to keep the bear paw succulent out of reach of both children and pets.

More Easy-to-Care-for Succulents

If you’re looking to add more houseplants to your collection, consider these other popular succulents:

  • Burro’s Tail or Donkey Tail Succulent Care – How to Grow Sedum morganianum.
  • Indoor Pineapple Plant Care – How to Grow Your Own Pineapples!
  • How to Care for a String of Pearls Plant – Senecio rowleyanus.
  • How to Grow and Care for a Haworthia Succulent.

For further information and an extensive variety of succulent plants, visit the Ames Farm Center.

Now that you have the complete care guide for the enchanting bear paw succulent, you can enjoy the beauty of this adorable plant while confidently nurturing it in your home.