Succulents of the genus Cotyledon

genus Cotyledon

Succulents are at the peak of popularity, thanks to their uncommon appearance and ease of care. Many lovers of these wonderful plants can be found Cotyledon. We offer to get acquainted with this plant and share tips on how to care for Cotyledon indoors.

Features of the genus Cotyledon

A small genus of plants as Cotyledon is part of the family Crassulaceae and consists according to different sources from 30 to 40 species. In nature, they can be found on the Arabian Peninsula, in Ethiopia and South Africa.

One species of Cotyledon in the desert
One species of Cotyledon in the desert

A characteristic feature of this genus is a small size. Rarely do they exceed 5 feet (1.5 m) in height. They have very brittle and rather thick stems, which eventually become woody, and succulent leaves. Members of the genus are miniature shrubs with usually succulent brittle stems and persistent succulent leaves. The leaves are supronate. The pairs of leaves are usually oriented at a 90-degree angle to their preceding and succeeding pairs, as is common in the family Crassulaceae.

Cotyledon blooms in the summertime. At this time, rather thick and long pedicels emerge from the upper part of the stems. The inflorescences are umbrella-shaped, the flowers are drooping and resemble bells. The calyx is five-petaled, while the corollas are five-lobed. There are 10 stamens inside the corolla, but they do not stick out. Cotyledon blooms quite abundantly and for a long time. After flowering, spikelets begin to mature, containing many small brownish globular seeds.

Many plant species of the genus Cotyledon are more or less poisonous. Before purchasing such a succulent, it is worth thinking about your neighbors and pets and learning about the degree of danger.

How to care for Cotyledon indoors

What you need to know about the growing conditions of the plant.


Cotyledon needs a soil mixture with 70% to 80% mineral content and must be well drained. Try not to add peat moss to the soil as it retains water can make the soil too damp, leading to root rot. A quality soil mixture for cacti and succulents, is perfect for your plant. Make sure the soil drains well. To improve soil drainage, you can add some sand, fine crushed stone, perlite or pumice.


The Cotyledon needs good light with direct sunlight. Therefore, for its placement, it is recommended to prefer a window facing south. Also succulent quite normally grows and on the windows of the western and eastern direction, but in this case it may not bloom.

Succulent care at home
Cotyledon is fascinating not only for its flowers but also for its leaves

If there is not enough light, its stems will elongate and its leaves will be smaller.


In summer the plant feels best at 64 – 77 °F (18 – 25 °C). But at this time it needs very frequent airing. It is best in the warm season to move it outside into the garden. In winter, such a succulent plant needs to be cool, the minimum temperature is about 5 °C. Cotyledon can withstand brief light frosts and is tolerant of temperatures up to 41 °F (-5 °C) if it is in dry soil. It can be grown in the garden if you are in USDA zone 9A – 11.


Cotyledons use the same watering methods as most succulent species. It is recommended to water the soil until water begins to flow from the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot. The next watering should be done when the soil is dry.

Photo of a succulent in a pot
Cotyledons resistant to disease

Frequent watering or constantly wet soil puts the roots of the succulent at risk of rotting. The main condition is not to allow water to accumulate on the leaf rosettes.
In summer, it is recommended to water the plant every week. In winter, it is sufficient to water the plant once or twice a month.


For most species of Cotyledon nutrients in the soil are sufficient. However, if you want your succulents to grow faster, a special succulent fertilizer is recommended. A fertilizer with a low nitrogen content will work for the plant. Use the recommended ratio of water to fertilizer. You can add more water to avoid burning the plants. The best time to fertilize Cotyledon is in the spring, when the growing season begins. Fertilizing once a month or so is sufficient.

Succulent information


Since Cotyledon grows rather slowly and has not a very large root system, it is not worth frequenting it with transplants. That it is time to transplant the plant, its crown will tell you. So, if its size has become larger than the width of the container, it is worth to make a transplant in a pot of larger size. Thus, adult specimens are transplanted, as a rule, once every 3 years, and young ones – somewhat more often.

How to propagate Cotyledon

Succulent is usually propagated by seed or vegetative method. Growing Cotyledon from seed is a laborious process with a rather low probability of success. We will focus on propagation by cuttings.

Cotyledon cuttings
Cotyledon cuttings

Propagation by cuttings is quite simple. It is preceded by the removal of leaves or stems with a few leaves with a sharp sterile knife or scissors. Use sharp sterile tools to minimize damage to the cuttings. After the cuttings are harvested, they should be set aside in a dry place for several days. This time allows the cuttings to harden. Once hardened, the cuttings can be placed in soil for rooting. The rooting hormone will help the cuttings to root faster, but it is not necessary. Once the cuttings are rooted, you can take care of your new plants as usual.

Pests of Cotyledon

Succulents can be infested by mealybugs or spider mites, and they suck the sap out of them. It’s hard to save Cotyledon when an infestation becomes a serious problem. So as soon as you notice the pests, just get rid of them as soon as possible by washing the plants with water, soap, or neem oil.

Popular species of the genus Cotyledon

There are many varieties of succulent, we suggest considering a few of the most popular species.

Silver Crown Plant or Silver Ruffles (Cotyledon undulata)

Represents a bush of branched shape. It is up to 2 feet (80 cm) tall. The leaves are gray waxy-edged and plaque-covered, fairly smooth. It grows best in bright light and moderately moist soil. It requires medium heat and does not need high humidity.

Silver Crown Plant or Silver Ruffles
Silver Crown Plant or Silver Ruffles

There are stripes of white color on a tall flower stalk, and umbrella-shaped inflorescences are formed on top. The buds are usually red or orangeish in color, they visually resemble bells.

Bear’s Paw (Cotyledon tomentosa)

A miniature shrub that reaches up to 1 ft (30 cm) in height.

Bear's Paw (Cotyledon tomentosa)
Bear’s Paw

There is a waxy patina on the surface of the leaves, slight pubescence. Leaves are elongated, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long. Due to the appearance of the leaves, this species is also called Bear’s Paw. The flowers are colored in orangeish-reddish hues.

Pig’s ear (Cotyledon orbiculata)

This plant is also known as pig’s ear or round-leaved umbel. The most characteristic feature of this species is the fleshy leaves with a red border that look a lot like a pig’s ear.

Pig's ear (Cotyledon orbiculata)
Pig’s ear (Cotyledon orbiculata)

The succulent ranges in height from 1 to 3 feet (0.3-0.9 m). The flowers are red in hue and are bell-shaped. The inflorescences are umbrella-shaped, up to 1 foot (30 cm) in volume.

Cotyledon papillaris

A small shrub with spreading reclining branches. It grows to a height of up to 4 inches (10 cm). The leaves are erect and elongated, with a waxy patina on top.

Cotyledon papillaris
Cotyledon papillaris

The form is built up, the border is maroon. It rarely blooms under home conditions.

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