The Enchanting Bear’s Paw Plant

The Bear’s Paw plant, also known as Cotyledon Tomentosa, is a delightful member of the succulent family. Its thick, ovate leaves are covered in a velvety green fuzz, with striking dark red toothed edges that resemble a bear’s claws. This unique texture and beautiful contrast make it a perfect addition to any space. Standing at over 30cm tall, this shrub-like plant produces large orange bell-shaped flowers during the spring. While caring for Bear’s Paw is relatively easy, its delicate leaves require special attention.

General Care

Light

When considering the placement of your Cotyledon Tomentosa, keep in mind that if you want it as a houseplant, it should be positioned near a south-facing window or a bright spot with at least six hours of indirect sunlight daily. In contrast, if you plan to include it in your garden alongside other succulents, choose a bright shaded area where the plant won’t receive too much direct sunlight. Bear’s Paw is fragile and can suffer from overwatering, so it’s essential to plant it in well-drained soil to prevent water accumulation.

Temperature

Cotyledon Tomentosa is not cold hardy and will struggle in temperatures below 30°F (-1°C). If you live in a colder region, it’s best to plant it in a container that can be easily moved indoors during freezing weather. During this time, it’s also advisable to avoid feeding and watering the plant.

Watering

Just like other succulents, Bear’s Paw enjoys being thoroughly soaked but then allowed to dry out. During the summer or dry periods, make sure to water the plant deeply once a week, using approximately ¼ cup of water for small paws and 1 to 1 ½ cups for larger ones. For potted Bear’s Paw, water only when the soil has completely dried. After watering, remove any excess water from the saucer. In winter, the plants require less water as they become dormant. Water them at least once every other week to prevent the soil from completely drying out and the paws from shriveling.

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Soil & Fertilizer Needs

Cotyledon Tomentosa doesn’t require much fertilization, especially in cold climates. However, during its active growth period from April to August, it’s recommended to feed it with a light balanced all-purpose water-soluble succulent fertilizer twice a month. The plant prefers a well-draining soil mix to prevent root rot. You can use a specialized cacti and succulent soil or enhance regular potting soil with perlite and coarse sand. Aim for a slightly acidic soil with a pH of around 6. Also, choose a pot that is just one size larger than the root system for optimal growth.

Propagation

Chubby Bear

There are several methods to propagate your Bear’s Paw plant. The easiest and most common way is through cuttings. Simply take a 15cm cutting from the main plant, remove some of the leaves, and let it callous over for a few days. Then, place it in warm, well-draining soil with a temperature between 22 to 27 degrees Celsius and water whenever the soil feels dry. Another method is leaf propagation, although it is more challenging compared to using cuttings. If you decide to try it, gently twist a leaf off the plant, allow it to callous for a few days, and then place it on well-draining soil.

Common Problems

1. Pests and Insects on Bear’s Paw

Bear’s Paw leaves can attract pests, especially cochineal. Regular inspection is crucial, as these pests can be easily missed due to the silver hair on the leaves. Mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects are common intruders. To remove mealybugs, use a soaked cotton swab with rubbing alcohol directly on the pests. Scale insects can be scraped off with a fingernail.

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2. Overwatering

Like most succulents, Bear’s Paw is susceptible to fungal diseases caused by excessive watering. Overwatering can lead to limp leaves that easily collapse. Care must be taken when handling the plant to prevent damage.

3. Cold Hardiness

Cotyledon Tomentosa is cold hardy in zones 9b to 11b. If you live in colder conditions, it’s best to treat the plant as a houseplant. Ensure it receives enough light to remain healthy, and consider transferring it outside during the summer months.

Bottom Line

Bear’s Paw is a stunning stand-alone plant for pots and a real showstopper when combined with other plants. To keep it thriving and healthy, extra care is necessary. By following the tips mentioned above, you can enjoy the charm of these adorable little paws. For more information, watch the video below:

Bear's Paw Care Video

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