The Bear’s Paw Succulent Caring Guide (Cotyledon Tomentosa)

The bear’s paw succulent (cotyledon tomentosa) is quite remarkable. A favorite of succulent enthusiasts, its appearance is quite striking.

Its leaves are thick, fuzzy and green. Its edges resemble little claws, and are dark red at the top. The succulent can also produce some small flowers. Outdoors, in particular, the bear paw acquires a shrub-like appearance.

The basic guidelines for proper bear’s paw succulent care are the following:

  • Only water it when the soil is completely dry.
  • Humidity is to be avoided. Keep your succulent in a dry, sunlit place for better results.
  • Choose a soil mix with high-drainage properties.
  • This succulent thrives on light. Six hours of daylight will serve it well.
bears paw succulent

In this article, we’ll take a look at the proper way to care for the bear paw succulent. We’ll take a look at basic and advanced care and some related questions and issues.

Bear Paw Succulent Basic Caring Guidelines


As with most succulents, the ‘soak and dry’ method is the best. This means that we want to wait for the soil of the succulent to dry off completely and then proceed to soak it.

This method works very well with succulents, cacti in particular, because it imitates the natural conditions they face. A desert environment will usually have a harsh dry temperature and, occasionally, hefty rainstorms.

The bear paw succulent is no different in this regard. 

It’s important to be very careful when watering and essential that the soil is really dry before drenching the succulent with water. Then, it is handy to use a moisture meter or at least a chopstick. Such tools will show us if the soil is really dry or not. The last thing we want with a succulent is to have it sit in water for hours and days on end. This will rot the roots and kill it.

bear paw succulent or cotyledon tomentosa
Source: Reddit

When watering the bear paw succulent, remember to drench at the base of the plant. Don’t mist the leaves. Also, try to water during the evening or very early in the morning. It’s best to avoid watering with heavy sunlight since we may harm the leaves by accidentally dropping water on them.

Overwatering is lethal to succulents. When in doubt, don’t water the succulent at all. A succulent will recover from under watering, but will seldom survive overwatering. As ever, make sure that the drainage hole in potted succulents is working well before watering.


Most succulents live in dry environments. High humidity is generally not suitable for succulents.

First of all, the humidity will make our succulents require less watering. It’s essential that if a succulent is in a humid environment, we take extra care to make sure the soil is really dry before watering. A humid climate and over watering will be lethal.

On the other hand, humidity may very well harm the succulent itself. The risk of root rotting may very well increase If the succulent is permanently in a humid environment.

For better performance, always consider moving succulents to dry and sunny areas.


A good soil mix helps succulents thrive. There are several ways in which it helps the bear paw succulent.

For one, a good soil mix should allow proper drainage. As stated earlier, overwatering a succulent is a very bad idea. Traditional soil may remain too wet for too long. To this end, many experts recommend using a mix made of two parts coarse sand, two parts soil and one part peat. 

Note that it’s possible to buy a ready-made soil mix or create one from scratch. On the other hand, good soil will provide the appropriate nutrition that the plant needs.  


As with many other succulents, the bear paw succulent likes to have a lot of sunlight. A good 6 hours of sunlight per day are ideal for giving this succulent the light it needs to thrive.

Evidently, such amount of sunlight may be available to bear paw succulents outdoors. If this succulent is grown indoors, things may get a bit trickier. Try to set the plant in a place where it gets a lot of sunlight throughout the day. Experiment until you find the correct indoor location. 


When it comes to temperature, the bear paw succulent thrives in warm climates with very mild winters. In this regard, it’s very similar to other succulents, cacti included.

In practical terms, this means temperatures of about 68F to 82F (20C to 28C). Any temperature below 44F (7C) is inadvisable.

Bear Paw Succulent Advanced Caring Guidelines


When it comes to fertilizing bear paw succulents, there are some things to take into account. It’s a good idea to use a mineral fertilizer once a month during spring and summer.

During summer, in particular, light fertilization twice a month may be useful. Note that such frequency will only be necessary during the summer growing season. The dormant phase will not demand fertilizing.

There are several ways to fertilize this succulent. A water-soluble fertilizer will usually work well. A blend of 24-8-16 is quite useful, for most cases. 

Some experts will dilute half a teaspoon of the fertilizer into a gallon of water. In any case, when buying fertilizer, be sure to read the indications in the original packaging.

Pest Prevention

The bear paw succulent may suffer from several things. Regular inspection of our plants is key to prevent harm from pests.

Mealybugs are a problem. They will usually be found on the leaves and stems. They may harm leaves and need to be dealt with.

Upon discovering them, it’s ideal to remove them quickly. To do so, use a cotton swab soaked with alcohol and apply it directly on the plant.


The bear paw succulent may live both outdoors and indoors. When it’s indoors, we need to find the correct pot. This is only partly an aesthetic concern, since the correct pot will improve the health of our plant as well.

In general, when planting this succulent in a pot, make sure that the pot is only slightly larger than the root system. This will help prevent overwatering.

Winter Care

During winter, the bear paw succulent requires some special care. It’s best to bring the plant indoors in colder regions. It’s not a good idea to leave the succulents outside enduring temperatures below freezing point. Also, There is no need to fertilize during this time, by the way.  

Overwatering is also to be avoided, particularly during winter. As usual, the ‘soak and dry’ method is a good idea. Only water your plant when the soil is completely dry. You’ll notice that you may only need to water the succulent once or twice during the whole season.

If the succulents are outdoors, things get a little trickier. Garden succulents will be hit hard by freezing temperatures. Some people cover them with straw to help them survive frosting.

Bear Paw Succulent Propagation

How to propagate a Bear Paw Succulent

Propagating a bear paw succulent is possible. It follows the same method of propagation as other succulents. This method is quite simple.

Use a sharp and sterile knife and cut off a stem from the main plant. Let this cutting dry and heal for a few days. After that, place it in soil and water it when the soil is completely dry, like you would water any other succulent.  

Related Questions

Are Bear Paw succulents poisonous?

Ingestion of the bear paw succulent has been known to be toxic. There have been reports of bear paw succulents being toxic to small pets or children. It’s best to tread with some caution and avoid ingestion of this succulent.

How big do bear paw succulents get?

Bear paw succulents will usually go up to about 20 inches. The general appearance is shrubby with quite dense branching.

This succulent will reach an average size indoors. When it grows outdoors, and with the appropriate conditions, it will appear more like a shrub.

Is Bear Paw a cactus?

The bear paw is a succulent. As we know, all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti.

Areoles are the key, defining characteristic of cacti. These are fleshy protuberances adorned with spines, leaves or flowers. Although at first glance the bear paw seems to have protuberances, these can’t quite be considered areoles with spines.

Aesthetics shouldn’t confuse us; the bear paw is a succulent.

Why are my bear paw succulent leaves falling off?

There may be several reasons for this. For one, the bear paw succulent may be suffering from overwatering. Lack of sunlight may also be a factor.

Try to figure out if the succulent is receiving little light. If this is the case, move the succulent to another area in the house.

When it comes to watering, as we explained earlier in this article, use the ‘soak and dry’ method. Only water the succulent when the soil is completely dry. When this is the case, drench the pot, at the base of the succulent.

Does the bear paw have flowers?

Yes it does. The flowers are quite small but quite aesthetic as well, usually with orange-red petals. The bear paw succulent will usually bloom from spring to summer. 

Sebastian Moncada

I’m also a plant enthusiast and researcher. I’ve been privileged to have lived my whole life around the wilderness of Colombia and I’m happy to share everything I learn along the way. “Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience” – Emerson.

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