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How to Grow and Care for a Bear's Paw (Cotyledon tomentosa)


Cotyledon tomentosa, commonly known as Bear's Paw, is an evergreen, branched, succulent shrublet with hairy leaves and stems. The leaves have purplish-brown teeth along with the tips. In spring, it bears masses of long-lasting, pendulous, satiny, orange-red, bell-shaped flowers in clusters at the tip of the flowering stalks.

Bear's Paw makes a good addition to a water-wise succulent garden or rockery and is lovely in a container.

Growing Conditions and General Care

Bear's Paws grow in bright, shaded areas where they rarely receive direct sunlight. Outdoors, plant them in slightly sandy, well-drained soil where water doesn't collect after rain or irrigation. Potted plants require a container with at least one bottom drainage hole. When planting Bear's Paw in containers, select pots only slightly larger than the root system.

Regular deep watering in the summer months, when the plant is actively growing, keeps the Bear's Paw healthy. Water garden plants deeply once weekly when there is no rainfall, supplying about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water. Potted plants require watering when the soil had almost completely dried. Fully drench the soil until the water drains from the bottom hole in the pot, and empty the collected water after the pot finishes draining. Bear's Paw only requires enough water in winter, so the soil doesn't dry completely, and the plants don't shrivel.

Light fertilization twice monthly is only necessary during the active summer growing season. An all-purpose, water-soluble fertilizer, such as a 24-8-16 blend, works well for succulent plants.

Winter Care

Plants grown outdoors in colder regions require overwintering indoors. Bring the pots inside before temperatures drop below freezing in the fall. The plants will overwinter with bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid fertilization and overwatering during this time. Garden plants will only survive if your area doesn't experience a freeze. You can briefly cover plants with a light mulch, such as straw, to help them survive a light frost.


Bear's Paw is able to propagate in several different ways. However, the easiest way is through cuttings. If propagating from seed, sow in well-draining soil in the fall. You can grow seeds outdoors if you live in USDA hardiness zone above 9a. If you live in a cooler area, you can begin sowing indoors under a grow light.



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