Bear’s Paw succulent also known as Cotyledon Tomentosa is one of the cutest succulents you can have. Maybe you do not fancy encounter with a bear in a forest, but leave of this beautiful plant can at least give you a little feeling of what it means to confront the big animal :). What you should know though that this succulent is a little fragile when compared to common succulent varieties, and you need to be careful when growing it.
The most common problem gardeners and growers experience is that bear’s paw leaves start to fall off. If you are a beginner, you may have no idea what is going on, and I can tell you that you are not alone. In my personal experience though, the most common causes of this issue are over- watering, fungal infections, and insects.
Over-watering as the common culprit
This succulent is especially vulnerable to rotting. When you give it excessive amount of water, the roots will start to rot without you noticing anything (since it happens under the ground), and eventually the leaves will start to fall. Over-watering can also help fungal infections, which can also cause leaves to crumble and fall.
Having said that, we should not forget on insects, the notorious enemies of the bear’s paw. Some of the insects that you should prevent from affecting your plant are mealy bugs and spider mites. If you see cotton-like spots in the leaves, you know that your beloved plant may get mealy bugs, and in such a case, it is a good idea applying a fungicide for succulents (in the article I describe the best organic & synthetic options).
But this should not discourage you from growing bear’s paw. As mentioned, this succulent is a true gem, and will add beauty to your existing collection of plants. I will share with you now some of the remedies you can follow once you notice problems with your bear’s paw, or if you simply want your plant to do well!
Give your bear’s paw enough sunlight
Bear’s paw or Cotyledon tomentosa can thrive in full sun or in partial shade. But I don’t suggest exposing it in the sun for the entire day, unless you live in a moderate climate of course. If you are growing it outdoors, in tropical or sub-tropical climate, six hours of sun exposure is healthy. You should limit the exposure to high afternoon sun, which can cause sunburn.
If you are growing bear’s paw indoors, make sure that you place it near the window in order to guarantee some exposure to sunlight. And if you love your plants, you can even take it to the balcony to sunbath during the day, for those four to six hours.
May also interest you: Can Succulents Survive Without Natural Light?
Optimal watering schedule to make sure leaves won’t fall of your bear’s paw
Bear’s paw needs water. But be careful because too much water can kill it. The falling of its leaves is the first indicator of over-watering. When watering bear’s paw, make sure to hit the soil and not the leaves or stem. Succulents don’t like it when their leaves and stems are soaked in water. It could cause rotting, and falling of.
I also suggest you to soak the soil and let the excess water drain. It is very important to have a pot with drainage holes, such as this one from Amazon, designed especially for succulents (* please note this is a sponsored link, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase). I also suggest you to use fast-draining soil, which will again add an extra layer to the prevention of rotting of your bear’s paw.
The watering frequency depends on the season. In winter when most succulents are not actively growing, water the succulent less frequently. It is important to only water bear’s paw when its soil is completely dry. Remember that plants to do not care about our calendar, whether it is Saturday, Sunday, or Tuesday. If the soil is wet, do not water the succulent, regardless of when you watered it the last time.
Fast draining soil or potting mix is your best bet
As mentioned above, fast-draining soil (click here to view my favorite potting mix on Amazon, perfect for bear’s paw if you keep it indoors) is essential for this beautiful succulent. Do not use garden soil because it is too compact for succulents. A fast-draining soil not only helps the excess water during watering, it also provides good aeration to the plants.
May also interest you: Best Soil for Succulents in Pots
Greenhouse and bear’s paw, sun protection
If you really want to make sure your bear’s paw thrives, even if it doesn’t stay in conditions native to it, a special habitat such as a greenhouse is the best way to go.
The purpose of this is to protect the plant from getting to much UV light that could cause sunburn. If the greenhouse is made of glass, you can add a shade cloth overhead to neutralize the penetrating sunlight. If you are placing bear’s paw in the bright veranda, make sure that you protect it from getting too much heat by using a plastic sheet. This will again, provide a shield from the sun’s heat
Extra Source of nutrients
It is true that succulents do not need super nutritious soil in order for them to survive. But certainly, they love to have a little extra source of nutrients during their active-growing season.
You can for example use light succulent fertilizer once a month in their active growing season–and only then. Most succulents and this includes bear’s paw, actively grow in spring and fall. So you can add a little bit of fertilizer to their soil in this period (I suggest this one from Amazon, which has a good value for the price in my opinion).
In the summer and winter when succulents are dormant, there is no need to apply fertilizer. Just the right amount of water will do to keep them healthy.
Like other succulent varieties, the bear’s paw is susceptible to potential diseases. The most common problems that often lead to the falling of its leaves are over-watering, fungal infections, and insects.
The good news, however, is that you can avoid these problems if you take proper measures, and even if you do not manage to avoid them, you can fix them if you notice them early. Over-watering is the easiest one to solve–you just adjust the amount of water and the watering frequency of the plant. This solves the problem, unless you discovered it too late, and the plant cannot be saved anymore (since its rooting system has rotten to the core),
Fungal infections and insects can be treated using pesticides or natural methods. The key as always is to pay attention to the needs of your plants, observe them regularly, and make sure that they get what they need, in terms of light, water, nutrition, etc. I hope this helps, and do not forget to read my complete succulent guide, to grow these plants like a pro.
Q: Are bear’s paw succulents poisonous?
A: Generally, bear’s paw succulents are considered non-toxic. However, this may depend on who or what eats it. There are some reports stated that the bear’s paw succulents can be mildly toxic. But in my opinion you are safe with them.
Q: How do you propagate bear’s paw succulents?
A: The best way you can propagate bear’s paw succulent is by using cuttings. Cut a stem from a healthy mother plant and place it on a paper towel and let it callous for two to three days. Once it is calloused, it is ready to transfer on top of the fast-draining soil. And that’s it, you just wait for the magic to happen, and new plant to grow.