How to Grow and Care for Bear Paw Succulent – Cotyledon Tomentosa

What is a Bear Paw Succulent?

The bear paw’s (Cotyledon tomentosa) fuzzy, hairy leaf is squat and chubby, with upper tips that resemble an animal foot or paw. When the plant is mildly stressed, the dark red appears, emphasizing the shape and drawing attention to the attractive shrub-like plant. It is small and delicate, with leaves that become chubbier as they hold more water.

The succulent bear paw is an indoor plant ideal for those new to growing plants indoors. Tomentosa is a botanical term that means “covered with short, dense, matted hairs” or “covered with fuzz.” You’ll most likely come across the term in conjunction with other botanical plant names. Succulent plants with fuzzy leaves are not as difficult to grow as many people believe. The most important thing is to water at the roots and avoid getting the foliage wet as much as possible. This is sound advice for all succulents.

Bear's Paw Succulent – Cotyledon Tomentosa

Cotyledon tomentosa is a tender succulent that is easy to grow. It’s easy to see how the common name “bear’s paw succulent” came to be.

Those chubby leaves resemble tiny bear paws!

Each leaf is soft and fuzzy, puffy, and has tiny “teeth” at the edges. The teeth at the end of the leaves turn red when the plant is properly cared for and in the right conditions.

Bear Paw Succulents are a succulent genus that is easy to grow and maintain small for any indoor garden. It is a good choice for those with a brown thumb who want an easy to care plant and ideal for those who are new to growing succulents.

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Bear's Paw Succulent Facts

Tomentose is a botanical term that refers to a fuzz-covered covering. See my post on Kalanchoe tomentosa for another succulent variety of this type. Cotyledon tomentosa is a succulent plant in the Crassulaceae family. The plant is indigenous to Africa. The plant grows in rocky fields and cliffs in its native habitat, where the porous soil provides excellent drainage.

Bear’s claw plant, bear’s paw succulent, bear paw cactus, and kitten paw plant are all common names for this succulent.

Bear's Paw Succulent Growing Instructions

Bear Paw Succulent is a lovely little plant that requires little attention. It prefers full sun, but it is a good succulent for newbies to growing succulents.

Sunlight requirements:

Bear Paw Succulent can be grown in full sun to partial shade. It requires 6 hours of direct sunlight outside or a south-facing window inside.

Watering necessities:

When the 1-2 inches soil’s top is dry, water it. Choose a pot with a drainage hole if possible to allow water to drain after adding water to the soil.

Watering should be avoided during the winter when the plant is dormant. Water it just enough to keep it from becoming shriveled.

The “soak and drain” method is a good way to water. Bring the plant to the sink and soak it thoroughly, allowing the water to drain through the drain hole in the bottom of the pot.

Soil requirements:

Because the plant is prone to root rot, it requires a well-draining soil mix, as do all succulents. You can use a specially formulated cactus and succulent soil or mix perlite and coarse sand into regular potting soil.

Succulents prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of around 6. The plant appears to thrive in a pot one size larger than the root system.

Fertilize as follows:

During the active growing season, fertilize lightly with a succulent fertilizer once a month. Fertilizer should be avoided during the winter months.

Growing Season:

The plant grows in the spring and fall. During the summer and winter months, there is little growth. Bear’s Paw succulent is dormant in the summer and grows slowly in the winter.

Foliage and flowers:

Bear’s paw succulent leaves are flat and hairy. They store water in their plump leaves, just like other succulents.

The leaves can grow up to 1.5 inches long and have reddish teeth on the ends, neatly arranged in a row. The plant grows relatively quickly.

As the plant matures, new pairs of paws form. Nature is plump and compact.

The leaves have a textured finish, are hairy, and quite fat. Flowers are bell-shaped and range in color from light yellow to pink, orange to orange-red. In the spring, the plant blooms.

Mature Dimensions:

A mature bear’s paw specimen can grow to 20 inches tall, shrubby in appearance, and densely branched.

When grown as an indoor plant, the specimen will be quite small, but it will grow into a shrub if grown outdoors in the appropriate hardiness zones.


Insects and Diseases:

Fungal diseases caused by over-watering are something to keep an eye out for in succulents, as they are in most succulents. This may manifest as limp leaves that easily fall off (Bear’s paw leaves tend to do this even in a healthy plant, so use caution when handling the plant). Insects that can cause problems include mealy bugs, spider mites, and scale. Mealybugs appear as tiny white insects with a cotton-like appearance.

Scale insects, which are quite hard, are found on the stems of succulents. They are easily removed with a fingernail.

Bear Paw Succulent Cold Hardiness:

Bear Paw Succulent can withstand temperatures ranging from 9b to 11b. Your plant cannot be left outside in the winter if you live in a colder climate.

Treat it as a houseplant in colder climates. Bear’s Paw can be grown indoors if enough light is provided. The plant will benefit from being moved outside during the summer months.

Get some succulent container ideas for your Bear Paw Succulent. Some common household items that can be used will astound you.

Bear Paw Succulent Propagation:

  • Cuttings are the most convenient way to propagate Bear Paw succulents. Stem cuttings are the most effective. This method will provide you with free new plants.
  • Leaf cuttings will also work, but they will be more difficult to work with. (Because the leaves contain a lot of water, propagating this type of leaf can be difficult.) Twist the leaf near the stem to obtain a very intact leaf cutting that is not too far from the tip. Allow a few days for the leaf to callous.

Rooting powder can also aid in the rooting of the leaf.

  • Seeds can also be used to propagate the plant. Sow the seeds in well-draining soil in the fall to grow the succulent from seed. This can be done outside in zones 10 and up or indoors under grow lights.
  • To propagate the succulent stem cuttings, take a clean, sterile knife and cut a few leaves from the main stem. Allow the cutting end to callous over for a few days before planting in well-draining soil.

This is best done after your plant has grown a little and gained some height. Attempting to obtain a compact and plump stem cutting of a new plant will result in an odd-looking plant.

  • Water gently, and in a few weeks, roots will form, and a new plant will be growing for you.


Leaves of the Bear Paw Succulent cannot be propagated. Many succulents have this ability, but The Bear’s Paw will not grow a new plant from a leaf. To successfully propagate this plant, a section of a stem is required.

Cuttings are the most dependable and quickest way to propagate Bear Paw Succulent. We recommend that the plant be fairly mature and have a variety of good-sized branches to choose from. The cuttings do not need to be large, but they must have at least six leaves. Because the plant is dormant in the winter, it is best to propagate it in the spring/summer. Roots should form in about 3 weeks if propagated during the growing season.

These are small cuttings of Bear’s Paw. At least six leaves should be present on the cuttings.

Seed propagation is possible, but it is prolonged and can take years for the seeds to grow into a good-sized plant.

Propagate from Seeds:

Seeds are far more convenient to propagate than leaves. All you have to do is sow your seeds in your grow medium. Propagation can be done outside if the weather conditions are favorable (in temperature and sunlight). Indoor propagation may necessitate the use of grow lights.

Position & Care:

Cotyledon Tomentosa is a tough plant that can tolerate poor soil and a wide range of temperatures. It is not frost-hardy, and if exposed to temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius, it will likely freeze and die (32 F). If grown in a climate where frost and snow are common in the winter, this plant should be grown in pots and brought indoors until the frost danger has passed.

This plant grows best in full sun, but it can also be grown in part sun, bright shade, or indirect light. As previously stated, plants in the shade are less likely to develop brown tips, the leaves are larger and heavier (the branches may need to be supported as heavy leaves will force the plant down), and the plant is less compact overall.

Bear Paw Succulent can be grown in the garden as well as in pots. During heatwaves exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), pot plants should be kept in the afternoon shade because the leaves can burn, and the pot can overheat, cooking the roots. Plants in the ground should be able to withstand these temperatures because their root systems can keep cool.

The fungus can attack Bear Paw Succulent in warm and humid environments. If dark spots appear, use a fungicide to treat them.

Water this plant when the potting mix/soil has dried out for best results. Bear Paw Succulent can withstand droughts, but it must be watered regularly to prevent soil from becoming hydrophobic.


Bear Paw Succulent is thankfully not a favorite of Aphids and Mealy Bugs, but if there is an infestation nearby, mealybugs can still attack this plant. Mealybugs are also more likely to enter potted plants and feed on the roots. Check the roots for white spots if the plant is struggling for no apparent reason (mealybugs).

Caterpillars and snails have been observed feeding on the Bears Paw, but they will leave the Cotyledon alone if there is something better nearby.


Cotyledon Tomentosa is listed as non-toxic, but we have found references indicating that some pets or humans may experience a mild reaction if consumed.

Variegated bear paw succulents

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