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Cotyledon tomentosa, or also known as Bear’s paw, is one of the most adorable members in the succulents family. It has a peculiar thick, ovate fuzzy green leaves with prominent dark red toothed edges that resemble the claws of a bear and velvety coating, this little fella does an awesome job in adding beautiful contrast and unique texture to any space.
Bear’s paw has a low, shrub-like growing habitat that can reach over 30cm in height and usually produce a large orange bell-shaped flowers during spring. Although Cotyledon tomentosa is fairly easy to take care of, their leaves are quite fragile. So knowing how you can properly take care of them is a must.
Below are some tips on how you can properly care for your bear’s paw.
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If you are thinking of having your Cotyledon Tomentosa as a house-plant, you need to place them near a south-facing window or in a bright place where the can enjoy at least six hours of indirect lights per day.
However, if you want to see your little paws together with your other succulents in the garden, you first need to find a place where it’s nice and shady. Preferably, a bright shaded spot where their little paws won’t get too much direct sunlight. Since Bear’s Paw is a very fragile plant, they can easily suffer from overwatering. So consider planting them in a slightly sandy, well-drained soil where water doesn’t collect after rain or irrigation.
Note that Cotyledon Tomentosa is not cold hardy as well and can easily die when the temperature drops below 30° F (-1° C). So if you are located in an area when the weather gets too cold, planting them in a container or pot where it can easily be carried indoors. It is also best to avoid feeding and watering them during this time.
In watering, Cotyledon Tomentosa is likely similar to any other succulents - they love to have their roots to be soaked but must be allowed to dry out. To be specific, give them regular deep watering during the summer season or when there is no rainfall. You can do this by supplying ¼ cup of water (for smaller paws) and one to 1 ½ cups of water (for large) paws at least once a week to keep them healthy.
As for potted Bear’s Paw, it is only necessary to water them when the soil has completely dried. Soak the soil completely until the water cleared from the porosity in their pot, and remove the accumulated water from the saucer after it finishes draining.
In the winter, the plants do not require much water as they become dormant. Just give them a drink of at least once every other week so their soil will not completely dry out and your Bear’s Paw don’t shrivel.
Cotyledon Tomentosa doesn’t need much attention when it comes to fertilization, especially in a very cold climate. However, in their active growth period that takes place during spring and summer, they need to be fed at least twice a month which is usually from the month of April to August. Give them a light balanced all-purpose water-soluble succulent fertilizer during this time.
Cotyledon Tomentosa needs a well-draining soil mix since they are prone to root rot. You can either use a formulated soil for cacti and succulents or add perlite and coarse sand to ordinary potting soil.
Generally, they love a bit of acidic soil with a pH of about 6 and do well in a pot that is just one size larger than the root system.
There are several ways on how you can propagate your Bear’s Paw. The best and easiest way to propagate it is by cuttings. To do this, all you have to do is to cut 15 cm long from the main plant and remove some of the leaves and allow it to callous over for a few days. Then place it in a warm spot where the temperature is between 22 to 27 degrees Centigrade with a well-draining soil and wait for the magic to happen. Water whenever the soil feels dry.
Another way is to propagate it from a leaf. However, doing this kind of method is quite difficult compared to “cuttings”. If you still want to try doing it, you first have to neatly twist the leaf off the plant and allow it to callous for a few days before placing it on some well-draining soil.
Like most members of the Crassulaceae family, their leaves are a great attraction for pests, especially cochineal. So a regular inspection is important as these pests are easily missed due to the silver hair on their leaves.
Mostly, Bear’s Paw is infected by mealybugs, spider mites, and scale. Mealybugs show up as waxy white insects that are usually found at the base of the leaves and stems. Quickly remove them by applying a soaked cotton swab in rubbing alcohol directly to the pests. The alcohol dissolves their protective coating and kills the pests.
As for scale insects, they are found on the stems of your Bear’s paw and are quite hard. They can be scraped off with a fingernail.
Like most succulents, fungal diseases caused by too much watering are something to watch out for. This could show itself with hobble leaves that would easily collapse (Bear’s paw leaves have a habit to do this so be extra cautious when handling them).
Cotyledon tomentosa is cold hardy in zones 9b to 11b. If you are located in colder conditions, they can not be left outside and should be treated as a houseplant. Just ensure that your Bear’s Paw gets enough light for it to remain healthy. You may transfer them outside during the summer months.
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To sum up, Bear’s Paw makes a very beautiful stand-alone plant in pots and can be a real head-turner when joined along with your other plant collections, but one still needs to provide extra care for them to continuously thrive and grow healthy. By following the tips stated above will help you get a very charming little paws.
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