Bear Paw Succulent Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Cotyledon Tomentosa”

Read our guide to Bear Paw Succulents for everything you’ll ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Cotyledon Tomentosa”

If succulents are at the top of your favourite plants’ list, keep reading our guide to find out everything you need to know about the adorable Cotyledon tomentosa a.k.a. Bear paw succulent. Once you learn how much fun this succulent is, you’ll surely want to add it to your plant family.

Cotyledon tomentosa, commonly known in cultivation as the Bear Paw succulent, is a species of flowering plant in the Crassulaceae family. This adorable succulent originates from several regions of South Africa. In its native habitat, Cotyledon tomentosa grows in rocky outcrops, semideserts, arid thickets, sheltered ravines, slopes, and areas with gravelly soils.

Bear paw succulent is, without a doubt, a must-have in every succulent collection. This plant comes in different sizes, leaf shapes, and flower colours, surprising you with a bit of variety from the very beginning. Besides its natural charm and beauty, this succulent has a very low-demanding style overall.

About Cotyledon Tomentosa

  • Prized for its eye-catching succulent leaves and cute flowers, our C. tomentosa buddy has received the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
  • Its common name “Bear paw succulent” comes from the peculiar, but the unique aspect of its leaves. The thick, succulent leaves of this plant have many prominent teeth at their tips, looking very similar to the paws of a bear.
  • Like most succulent species, Cotyledon tomentosa thrives with minimal effort on your part. It only needs lots of bright and indirect light, warm temperatures, and well-draining soils. This succulent is also fairly drought-tolerant for long periods.
  • Cotyledon tomentosa makes for a wonderful addition to various landscape decorations, such as rock gardens, succulent gardens, desert gardens, succulent terrariums, and low beds or borders. Most gardeners grow this succulent in lovely containers.
  • Bear paw succulent will look absolutely fabulous as a companion for other species of plants. Some of these are African Daisy, Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’, Blue Fescue, Blue Mist Spirea, Euphorbia, Grevillea, Lavender, Ornamental Grass, Rockrose, Sage, and Yarrow. You can also plant it with succulents that have similar growing needs.
  • All parts of Cotyledon tomentosa are poisonous to humans, livestock, cats, and dogs. For safety purposes, keep this plant in a spot where your intrigued kids or pets cannot reach it, especially its succulent leaves.
Bear Paw Succulent
Bear Paw Succulent

Cotyledon Tomentosa Features: An Overview

  • Bear paw succulents belong to the Cotyledon genus that consists of numerous species of flowering and succulent shrublets. They share this genus with other interesting species like C. adscendens, C. chrysantha, C. orbiculata, C. pendens, and C. undulata.
  • Cotyledon tomentosa is a perennial and evergreen flowering shrub. In its natural habitat or proper environmental conditions, this medium-sized plant can reach from 11.8 to 27.5 inches (30-70 cm) in height and 11.8 to 19.6 inches (30-50 cm) in width.
  • Its succulent foliage can vary from one subspecies to another. While the leaves of the subsp. tomentosa can appear on either thick, hairy, and green branches, the ones on the subsp. ladismithiensis grow on thick, peeling, wood-like, and brown stems.
  • Tomentosa features small, chunky, hairy, oblanceolate to oblong, and light to dark green leaves with 3 to 8 reddish-purple teeth at the end. C. tomentosa subsp. ladismithiensis has long, soft, cylindrical, and green leaves with red, orange, or yellow tips.
  • Bear paw succulent can bloom from mid-summer through early autumn (July to September). During this period, it exhibits tiny, hairy, 5-petaled, bell-shaped flowers that can show up with various shades of white, red, pink, orange, or yellow.

Growing Cotyledon Tomentosa

In general, Cotyledon tomentosa is super easy to grow and care for. And you will notice how low-maintenance it is from the first day spent with this adorable buddy! However, this succulent is quite fragile if you are growing it in improper environmental conditions. But don’t worry! We are here to help you become the best owner out there with a few basic tips and tricks.

Bear paw succulent will surprise you with its ability to tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions. In indoor settings, this houseplant typically thrives in locations where it can receive at least six hours of bright and indirect light each day. Make sure you place your succulent near a south or north-facing window for optimal growth. Outdoors, this plant will require some protection against direct, harsh sunlight. Because of this, a partially shaded area would be exactly what your succulent will appreciate.

When it comes to temperatures, Cotyledon tomentosa prefers warm climates with very mild winter months. This succulent is not cold-hardy and will eventually die off if you expose it to temperatures that drop below 30 °F (-1 °C). As a rule, your plant will grow at its best in temperatures that range from 68 to 82 °F (20-28 °C) all year round. In regions with cooler winters, it would be wise to bring your succulent inside in early autumn.

The leaves of Bear paw succulents are very attractive to pests like scale insects, mealybugs, cochineal, or spider mites. Luckily, these pest infestations are pretty harmless if you take action early in the first stages. When you notice any suspect presence on your plant, you have to simply remove the intruders with bare hands. For severe cases, we recommend rubbing alcohol or suitable insecticides on its leaves regularly until the pests go away.

Variegated Bear Paw Succulent, From Amazon

Planting Cotyledon Tomentosa

In terms of growing medium, Cotyledon tomentosa does well in those substrates that are more on the acidic side with a soil pH of around 6.0. Because this succulent is susceptible to root rot, you must plant it in soil that also comes with excellent drainage. The ideal growing medium for this plant is usually a commercial mix designed for succulents and cacti. If you cannot find this specific type of soil, you can mix some coarse sand and perlite in your ordinary garden soil.

Fertilize-wise, Bear paw succulent can perform just fine with little to no effort on your part. The only time when you will have to provide your succulent with fertilizers will be during its active growing period. Feed your plant with a light, balanced, general-purpose, and water-soluble fertilizer made for succulents twice a month in spring and summer (from April to August).

The size of the pot in which your Cotyledon tomentosa will grow is very important. Make sure you plant this succulent in a container that is slightly larger than its root system. In general, this plant does not grow too big, so it will not need frequent repotting. But if your Cotyledon tomentosa begins to outgrow its pot, transplant the succulent in a new container that is one size larger than the current one in early spring.

Cotyledon Tomentosa
Cotyledon Tomentosa

Watering Cotyledon Tomentosa

Like most species of succulents, Cotyledon tomentosa can store impressive amounts of water in its thick leaves. Due to this, you will not need to worry too much about its watering routine. In fact, its ability to tolerate prolonged periods of drought makes this succulent a nice companion for forgetful gardeners or beginners.

Since over-watering is the most common mistake among succulent growers, you will have to adopt a certain watering technique for your Bear paw. This plant likes a bit of moisture once in a while, but make sure you allow its soil to dry out entirely in-between waterings. After watering, keep in mind that you should always remove the excess water from its bottom tray.

During the hot summer months, provide your succulent with regular drinks only if there is too much drought or scarce rainfalls. Once the winter has settled in, it is more than enough to water your Cotyledon tomentosa only once every month or so.

Propagating Cotyledon Tomentosa

If you, a family member, or a friend of yours wants to a Cotyledon tomentosa to their succulent collection, we have great news! You can obtain more of these irresistible succulents by propagating them through stem cuttings or leaf cuttings. But before we begin, you must know that even the most experienced gardeners can fail to propagate a succulent sometimes. However, this does not mean that you should not try your luck, especially when the process is so simple!

For the first method, propagating a Bear paw succulent consists of first taking a stem cutting of about 6 inches (15 cm) from the main plant. Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting, then allow it to callous over for two or three days. Once this period has passed, plant the stem cutting in well-draining soil and place it in a warm, well-lit area. For optimal results, do not forget to water the cutting whenever its soil feels dry to the touch.

Propagating a Bear paw succulent using leaf cuttings will generally have fewer chances of success. But it is not an impossible task! First things first twist a leaf until it finally detaches from the mother plant. After this step, allow the leaf end to callous over for a few days before placing it above a substrate with sharp drainage. From this moment, all you have to do is wait for the cutting to show some tiny roots to show up.

In Conclusion

With its everlasting cute leaves and easy-going nature, Cotyledon tomentosa a.k.a. Bear paw succulent can will win your heart in an instant. Take a leap of faith and make this plant your desk companion from now on. And if you are already the owner of this succulent, make sure you check out the variegated cultivar to add an extra dash of personality to your surroundings and to ensure that your collection is complete.

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact

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