Succulents are a gardener’s favorite due to the hardy nature of the plants and serve all manner of purposes. For instance, the ground cover succulents prevent water loss and soil erosion, while the uniqueness of tall succulents makes for great hanging gardens.
They don’t require as much care as other plants, making them excellent indoor and outdoor plants.
The bear paw succulent is so much fun to grow, even for novice gardeners. It has become quite common and it’s easy to see why.
The plant gets its name from its leaves which resemble the paws of a small bear. The leaves are soft, puffy, and fuzzy with paw-like tips that turn red when exposed to the right growing conditions.
What Are Bear Paw Succulents
The bear paw succulent is a succulent perennial that is native to South Africa. Known as the Cotyledon Tomentosa, the plant belongs to the Crassulaceae family.
Bear paw succulents make excellent indoor plants and after some time, if the conditions are right, the little paw-like tips will turn red, beautifying the room even more.
Benefits of Bear Paw Succulents
Succulents have grown in popularity when it comes to indoor or outdoor gardening. There is a whole array of succulents that you can choose from and one such plant is the bear paw succulent. Here are some benefits of growing bear paw succulents in your home.
Natural Air Cooler
People who live in tropical regions experience high temperatures, especially during the summer months.
According to research, succulents such as the bear paw succulent can be used as natural air coolers in such regions.
Improve the Quality of Indoor Air
Besides cooling the air, the bear paw succulent can improve air quality in your home by absorbing pollutants. Research has it that such succulents can absorb volatile organic compounds in the air, which ends up cleaning the air.
Increase the Supply of Oxygen
Naturally, plants will release carbon dioxide during the night. But, unfortunately, the bear paw succulent and other succulent varieties do the opposite.
They release oxygen even during the night and release more of it during the day when they are exposed to sunlight.
Increase the Humidity in the Air
If you suffer from dry and itchy skin or dry cough now and then, you need to think about growing a bear paw succulent in your home.
These plants can increase the humidity in the air, which can help counteract such issues.
The resilient nature of succulents means that they can store water in the leaves and the stem. This water is released later on as tiny water droplets, thus increasing the humidity.
If you live in an area where trees are absent, you may suffer from visual pollution. However, studies have it that getting accustomed to seeing the green of trees every day can help calm you down, thus relieving stress in the process.
Succulents are evergreen until they blossom and if you live in such an area, you are better off planting succulents inside your house or on the patio.
How Do Bear Paw Succulents Work
The bear paw succulent naturally has very attractive leaves that are covered with fine hair.
The leaves are puffy and have prominent teeth looking like tips that can turn red when the conditions are right.
Most bear paw succulents are grown indoors; however, they maintain a green or pale yellow color. When grown outside, the plant can grow to heights of up to 50 cm.
The bear paw succulent has dense stems and thick flat leaves that grow to as long as 3.5 cm. On some succulents, the hairs on the leaves will be whitish, and on others, that color will be yellow.
The bear paw succulent is one of the most beautiful flowering succulents producing bell-shaped flowers during spring.
The color of the flowers will depend on the conditions and ranges from red-orange to light yellow.
Pros and Cons of Bear Paw Succulents
If you are thinking about growing a bear paw succulent, here are the advantages and disadvantages you should look out for.
- Bear paw succulents make excellent indoor plants in that they come in a variety of colors and shapes to suit any décor.
- Since the plant is native to South Africa, where it thrives in dry weather conditions, the bear paw succulent will survive anything, including not being watered for weeks.
- As mentioned, the plant is a natural air cooler, especially if you live in areas that experience high temperatures.
- Propagating a bear paw succulent is easy and can be done using the leaves, stem, or even seeds if you have the patience to wait until they germinate.
- Like other plants, the bear paw succulent will attract pests like spider mites, mealybugs, and cochineal. As such, you need to always be on the lookout for tiny pests on the leaves. If your plant is infested, an alcohol swab will get rid of them.
- When exposed to low light, the bear paw succulent will have whitish leaves, so always ensure that you take the plant out for several hours to get exposed to sunlight.
- Bear paw succulents are demanding in that they need to be grown in acidic soils. This means always checking for the acidity of the soil to ensure that it is of pH6.
- While there is no evidence to suggest that the bear paw succulent is toxic to humans, some people have reported developing allergic reactions so, be on the lookout for that.
Features of Bear Paw Succulents
Bear paw succulents will naturally produce thick and fuzzy green leaves with red toothed ends that resemble bear paws.
During spring, the plant produces bell-shaped flowers. The flowers will usually be pink, orange-red, or light yellow.
Fast-growing bear paw succulents will reach heights of 20 inches and will have bright green leaves and the same prominent teethed tips.
The leaves will usually be thick and neatly arranged and can grow to 1.5” inches long. Each leaf will usually have about three to ten tips that may turn red when the conditions are right.
New paws grow on the plant as it starts maturing. The leaves are plump and compact and are covered with tiny hairs and will have a textured finish.
There are two types of bear paw succulents. One grows in winter and sheds the leaves during the summer months, while the other is evergreen.
The bear paw succulent, however, grows during the spring and fall seasons. During the winter months, there is very little growth and sometimes no growth at all.
You can use the world’s best succulent fertilizer during the active growing seasons and stop when dormancy kicks in.
Bear paw succulents make excellent houseplants and also look great as rock garden plants in the tropic regions. The plants can also do well as container plants on sunny patios.
Bear Paw Succulent Requirements
Bear paw succulents are native to the arid areas of southern Africa and will therefore do well in areas that experience dry climates and high temperatures.
You need to meet the requirements if your bear paw succulent is to thrive and even flower.
When it comes to sunlight needs, the bear paw succulent will do well when it gets 6 hours of sunshine every day, although some varieties have adapted to partial shade.
People living in the Northern Hemisphere should place the plants near south-facing windows for maximum sunlight exposure.
The bear paw succulent is a fun-loving plant that thrives when exposed to at least six hours of sun per day. When planted indoors, you need to make sure that the container is placed near a sunny window.
The bear paw succulent thrives in temperatures of above 30° F. If the temperature goes below that, you are better off bringing it indoors to ensure that your plant survives.
And the same applies to the winter months. In terms of USDA hardiness zones, the bear paw succulent’s hardiness zone is 9b – 11b.
Just like with premium hanging succulents when it comes to the bear paw succulent, only water the plant when the soil has dried up.
During the winter months, be very careful when watering the plant since it can lose roots when exposed to prolonged cold or wet soil.
When watering, use the soak and dry method whereby you ensure that the soil is completely dry before you water again.
During dry months, be sure to water the plant at least once a week. For indoor potted bear paw succulents, drench the soil completely until you see water draining from the bottom of the container.
During winter, the plant is not actively growing and therefore doesn’t need much water except to ensure that the soil doesn’t dry up.
The bear paw succulent is a native to South Africa and what this means is that the plant thrives in rocky quartz gardens as long as the drainage is excellent.
If you are planting it indoors, ensure that you do so in a container with enough drain holes. Planting the plant in poorly draining soil will cause the roots to start rotting.
When it comes to feeding, the bear paw succulent needs to be fed on a balanced all-purpose water-soluble fertilizer at most twice a month and only during the active growing months.
Just like with other succulents, fungal diseases are inevitable, especially if you end up overwatering your plant.
This is evident when leaves start getting limp and falling at the slightest touch. Spider mites, mealybugs, and scale are also a problem when you have a bear paw succulent.
Propagation of cacti varieties is always easy, which is why succulents are a favorite for many gardeners.
Just like the Mother of Millions can propagate vegetatively through its plantlets, the bear paw succulent can be propagated through seeds, leaves, and stem cuttings.
The stem cuttings of a bear paw succulent create a healthy succulent growth when done right. Using sterile equipment, make a clean cut on a stem that has a few healthy leaves.
After cutting, you need to leave the stem cutting out for a few days to callus before planting in a well-draining potting mix.
It’s very challenging propagating using leaves, but that is not to say that it can’t be done. The leaves of the bear paw succulent store water, which is what makes the propagation hard.
When cutting, use the sharp and sterile cutting edge to make clean cuts and then leave them to callus for a few days before planting in well-draining soil.
Propagating using seeds is easier than using leaves or stem cuttings but takes longer. If you are propagating the seeds outside, make sure you do so when the weather is ideal rather than during the winter months.
If you are propagating indoors, you might need to use grow light to make sure that the seeds not only germinate but that the resulting plant thrives.
How to Grow Bear Paw Succulents
Step 1 – Make sure the conditions are right
Before you start propagating your succulent, make sure that all the conditions are ideal. For one, the plant can tolerate temperatures of up to 30° F and nothing lower than that.
You also need to make sure that you choose well-draining soil. If you are propagating in a pot, make sure that the pot has enough drain holes.
Step 2 – Use a sterile knife to make the cutting
You can either use leaves or stem cuttings to propagate. Whatever you choose, make sure that you use a sharp and sterile knife to make clean cuts.
Step 3 – Leave the cuttings to callus
There are different ways of succulent repotting. When you have your cuttings, don’t plant them immediately. Rather, leave the cuttings out for a while to callus for a few days before planting. Once they have become callused, plant in well-draining soil.
Step 4 – Watering
Do not water the plant immediately but wait until the soil has dried completely. After that, only water moderately to prevent root rot.
How to Care for Bear Paw Succulents
Step 1 – Protect the plant from a wet and cold climate
The bear paw succulent is adapted to a dry environment and will not do so well when exposed to extremely wet and cold conditions.
Step 2 – Consider sunlight exposure
The bear paw succulent after propagation needs to be exposed to direct sunlight and that’s what you need to do. Make sure that the plant gets at least 6 hours of sunlight every day to remain healthy.
Step 3 – Watering the plant
Most gardeners face problems when it comes to watering their succulents. Only water the succulent when the soil has dried completely.
Succulents, including the bear paw succulent, are sensitive and over watering will lead to root rot.
The first thing you need to make sure of is that the soil is well-draining and that the pot, in case you are using a container, has enough drain holes.
Bear Paw Succulent Growing Stages
Bear paw succulents will actively grow during the spring and fall months and become dormant during summer while experiencing little to no growth during the winter months.
When it comes to feeding, only apply fertilizer during the growth periods and stop when dormancy kicks in. And the same goes with watering.
After a successful propagation, the plant will start producing plum leaves. The leaves have fine hairs covering them and paw-like tips that will turn red when the growth conditions are right.
During the spring, the plant will produce beautiful flowers that range in color depending on the conditions. For example, they may be yellow, pink, orange, or red.
Mature Bear Paw Succulent
When the bear paw is growing in a hardy environment, it will resemble a little shrub. This is one of the tell-tale signs when the plant has reached maturity.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
When you are buying a bear paw succulent, more spending could mean getting a better quality plant. The same applies to when you are looking for stem cuttings, leaves, and seeds for propagating.
Do’s and Don’ts With Bear Paw Succulents
- Do ensure that your plant is propagated in well-draining soil outdoors. If you are planting it in a container, make sure that the container has drain holes at the bottom.
- Ensure that the plant is exposed to at least 6 hours of sunlight every day to remain healthy.
- When you are watering a bear paw succulent, only do that when the soil has dried completely.
- Always look out for pests such as mealybugs, spider mites, and scale and deal with them before they wreak havoc to your plant.
- Do not apply fertilizer to the plant during the winter and summer months. Rather, only feed it when it is actively growing.
- Do not overwater the plant as this will lead to root rot. Overwatering could also lead to fungal infection.
FAQ About Bear Paw Succulents
How much light do bear paws need?
Bear paw succulents are native to South Africa and need to be exposed to direct sunlight for at least 6 hours per day.
Are bear paw succulents rare?
Yes, bear paw succulents are some of the most beautiful and rare succulents belonging to the Crassulaceae family.
Do bear paw succulents bloom?
When the conditions are right during springtime, bear paw succulents bloom, producing flowers that range in color from yellow, orange, and red.
Are bear paw succulents poisonous?
Generally, the bear paw succulent is a non-toxic plant, but there have been cases where it has been mildly toxic to children and pets, leading to allergic reactions.
How often do you water bear paw succulent?
Only water your bear paw succulents when the soil has dried completely. The plants are adapted to thrive in arid areas and do not need as much water as other succulents.
How big do bear paw succulents get?
Bear paw succulents will usually grow to about 20 inches and resemble a bushy shrub when they are mature.
Why are my bear paws turning yellow?
The bear paw succulents can turn yellow if the soil is not well-draining and not exposed to enough sunlight.
Where can I get a bear paw succulent?
You can buy a bear paw succulent at your local plant shop or online shops like Amazon.
The bear paw succulent is one of the most beautiful but rare succulents. They are natives of South Africa, where they are used to thriving in arid conditions. What this means is that bear paw succulents need the same conditions to thrive. For instance, they need to be planted in well-draining soil and exposed to direct sunlight for up to 6 hours a day. At the end of the day, they make great indoor plants and do well in a container on the patio.
Photos from: soniabonetruiz / depositphotos.com.