Cotyledon Orbiculata (Pig’s Ear): All You Need To Know

Since its common name doesn’t really hint at elegance or beauty, it may come as a surprise that this type of succulent is actually very dainty and lovely to look at. It is another great option for gardeners who don’t have a lot of time to spend babying a fussy plant. Pig’s Ear is also a great option for beginner gardeners who want to practice their gardening skills on something pretty and uncomplicated.

How to Identify Pig’s Ear

The feature that is most recognizable about a Pig’s Ear succulent is the shape of its leaves; they truly are shaped like a pig’s ear. This succulent can also be identified by the following features:

  • The powdery wax coating on its leaves
  • Stalks that produce bell-shaped flowers in the Autumn
  • The grey-green color of its leaves
  • A pink or red outline on its leaves when the plant is placed under healthy stressors

Where Does Pig’s Ear Grow

This succulent is native to the arid regions of South Africa.

Uses of Pig’s Ear

This is a great plant to use for decorating purposes. It grows well and looks lovely in decorative containers or in a ground plot. It can be used to decorate tabletops, shelves, hanging planters, or as ground cover in a lawn.

How to Grow Pig’s Ear from Seed

If you have decided that growing a Pig’s Ear succulent is the best way for you, here are the basic steps to follow:

  1. Propagate the seed when the weather is warm during Springtime
  2. Plant the seeds in a seed tray filled with potting soil designed for succulents
  3. Place the seed tray in a sink filled with water so the soil will absorb the water from the bottom
  4. Place the seed tray in a warm area with indirect sunlight
  5. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the seed tray to keep in air humidity
  6. Add water to the seed tray as needed (the soil should be moist but not soggy)

Evidence that the seeds are sprouting will be tiny leaves above the soil.  As soon as these sprouts are spotted, the plastic wrap should be removed.

Once the seedlings have grown to 20 – 40 mm tall, the following care must be taken:

  1. Move the new plants to a container or ground plot
  2. Feed the new plants with a diluted fertilizer during their growing season.
  3. Water the plants only when the soil is dry

Pig’s Ear Growing Conditions

This plant needs an environment that is similar to most other types of succulents.  It needs plenty of heat and sunlight, as well as soil that will drain off excess water.

When to Plant Pig’s Ear

It is best to plant Pig’s Ear during warm and sunny months, particularly during Springtime, to ensure it grows strong and healthy.

How to Plant Pig’s Ear

The best type of soil for these plants is well-drained and loamy or sandy.  They do really well when planted in a mix of succulent potting soil that is free-draining and gritty.

If you intend to plant them in the ground, be sure you are in an area within USDA Hardiness Zones 9 – 12 and Heat Zones 10 – 12; otherwise, they will need to be kept in a container that can be transported indoors when there is a threat of frost.  While this succulent can tolerate a little cold, it should not be allowed to sit outside during extreme winter weather.

Pig’s Ear Water Requirements

The water requirements of Pig’s Ear are typical of most succulents: it needs very little.  Since this plant is susceptible to root rot, it is best to use the soak and dry method when watering it.  The steps for doing this are as follows:

  1. Fill a tray or a sink with a few inches of water.
  2. Set the plant container in the tray making sure that the water is not so deep that it will run over the top of the container.  The point of watering in this way is so that the roots will soak up the water and the leaves will not get wet.
  3. Let the plant soak in the water for fifteen minutes.  This will allow the root system to soak up water from the bottom of the container.
  4. Take the plant container out of the water.
  5. Place the plant container in a spot where the excess water can drain from the hole in the bottom.
  6. Repeat this only when the soil around the plant is dry.

If your Pig’s Ear succulent has been placed in an inground garden, then it will need to be watered slightly differently.  Here are some tips for watering this plant when it is in the ground.

  • Only water it when the soil is dry
  • Try to water only the soil around the plant
  • Avoid watering the flower petals and leaves

Pig’s Ear Sun Requirements

This plant needs a lot of sunlight; in fact, it does not do well if it placed in an area that is shady. Be sure that it is set in a garden plot or an indoor space that will provide it with plenty of bright but indirect sunlight throughout the day. It is also good to remember that Pig’s Ear succulent enjoys warm temperatures as long as the weather is not humid. So, provide it with plenty of sunlight and heat, but not too much moisture.

Best Pig’s Ear Fertilizer

This plant can be given a half dose of fertilizer once or twice during its growing season, which is Spring and Summer. Use a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen and designed for succulents and cacti. An excellent option is Joyful Dirt Organic Succulent Fertilizer & Plant Food.

Best Pig’s Ear Companion Plantings

You may decide to keep your Pig’s Ear succulent as a lone plant, but you may also want to consider providing it with some companion plantings. Pig’s Ear succulent will look great either way. If your unconvinced that Pig’s Ear will look great next to another plant, or you don’t know what will make a great companion plant, then take a look at these three options.

Senecio Mandraliscae ‘Blue Chalksticks’

Why will Blue Chalksticks make a great companion planting for a Pig’s Ear succulent?

  • They both grow in nearly the same USDA Hardiness Zones. Blue Chalksticks can grow in zones 9 – 11 while Pig’s Ear can grow in zones 9 – 12.
  • They both need well-draining, sandy soil.
  • They both require the same type of watering method (soak and dry).
  • They are both drought-tolerant.
  • They can both be propagated from cuttings.
  • They have leaves that are a similar blue-grey color.
  • They can both be used as ground cover in areas that are rocky or difficult to grow plants in.

Senecio mandraliscae (Blue Chalk Sticks) – Ricardo's Nursery

Pros for Blue Chalksticks:

  • It is deer and rabbit resistant
  • It is fire resistant
  • It attracts butterflies

Cons for Blue Chalksticks:

  • It is a fast-growing succulent that can take over a lawn
  • It is toxic to animals and humans

Crassula ‘Buddha’s Temple’

Why will Buddha’s Temple make a great companion planting for a Pig’s Ear succulent?

  • They both grow in nearly the same USDA Hardiness Zones. Buddha’s Temple can grow in zones 9b – 11b while Pig’s Ear can grow in zones 9 – 12.
  • They both need well-draining, porous soil.
  • They both require the same type of watering method (soak and dry).
  • They are both drought-tolerant.

Pros for Buddha’s Temple:

  • It is a unique-looking plant that looks wonderful wherever it is placed
  • It can be propagated via seeds or offsets
  • It is not toxic

Cons for Buddha’s Temple:

  • Its leaves can get sunburnt if set in direct sun for long periods of time

Faucaria Tigrina ‘Tiger’s Jaw’

Why will Tiger’s Jaw make a great companion planting for a Pig’s Ear succulent?

  • They both grow in nearly the same USDA Hardiness Zones. Tiger’s Jaw can grow in zones 9a and above while Pig’s Ear can grow in zones 9 – 12.
  • They both need well-draining, porous soil.
  • They both require the same type of watering method (soak and dry).
  • They are both drought-tolerant.
  • They both require plenty of bright, indirect sunlight.

Pros for Tiger’s Jaw:

  • It only grows up to 3 inches tall
  • It propagates through offsets and seeds
  • Its needs are typical of most succulents and cacti
  • It is generally not toxic

Cons for Tiger’s Jaw:

  • It doesn’t grow well when kept indoors
  • It is not cold hardy

Pig’s Ear Diseases and Common Problems

The most common issues faced by Pig’s Ear succulent are:

  • Aphids
  • Mealybugs
  • Vine Weevils

Pig’s Ear Treatments and Maintenance

To treat the common issues faced by Pig’s Ear succulent, it is best to learn the signs of the different types of infestations, and then, how to treat each one individually.

Aphids

These little insects are usually green but can come in a variety of colors.  Their most prominent feature is that they are fat and teardrop-shaped.  If you notice these insects on your plant, you can use a mixture of soapy water and vegetable oil to spray the infested areas.  Neem oil can also be applied to the leaves of the plant to help remove the insects and prevent them from returning.

Mealybugs

If you notice white fluff growing on your plant, you may have a mealybug infestation.  To rid your plant of these pests, apply rubbing alcohol to any places on the plant where you see the white fluff or the actual insects.  There is also the option of spraying the plant with a solution of diluted dish soap and water.

Mealybugs can also be hiding in the roots of the plant.  If this is the case with your Pig’s Ear succulent, it will require that you remove the plant from its container, shake off the soil, wash the roots with diluted alcohol or soapy water, allow the plant to dry, and then, replant it in new, fresh soil.

Note: Ridding your plant of mealybugs may take a few treatments over several weeks.

Vine Weevils

If you begin to notice slate-gray insects with short snouts and bent antennae, you are probably dealing with an infestation of vine weevils. Once you have confirmed that this is what you are facing, following these steps to rid your plant of this particular pest.

  1. Remove any mulch from around the plant.
  2. Water the plant only when it is necessary (these insects and their larvae love moisture).
  3. Use a natural barrier such as Tree Tanglefoot to keep the insects from moving to other plants.
  4. Sprinkle the plant and the soil around the plant with some Diatomaceous Earth. This is a natural and safe insecticide.

Pig’s Ear Repotting Instructions

This type of succulent is easy to propagate and replant. In fact, it is so easy, that you may want to do it regularly so that you can grow more of them in different areas of your lawn and garden or gift them to loved ones. If you decide to do this, here are the steps.

  1. Select a container or a plot of ground that is well-draining.
  2. Select a spot that will also get plenty of bright but indirect sunlight.
  3. Select potting soil that is well-draining.
  4. Wash your hands.
  5. Snap off a stem that has at least two nodes on it (do not use a metal cutting utensil).
  6. Dip the end of the stem into a rooting hormone.
  7. Wrap the stem in a warm and moist paper towel for 3 to 4 weeks (keep the towel damp the entire time).
  8. Once the stem has grown some roots it can be planted in the selected potting soil and container or garden plot (do not plant it any deeper than the length of the roots).
  9. Using a spray bottle, mist the soil with some water.
  10. Lightly fertilize the soil, if you want (optional).
  11. Be sure the plant gets partial to full sun.
  12. Mist the soil as needed until it is established.
  13. Once the plant is established, it can be cared for as a mature succulent.

Where to Buy Pig’s Ear Seeds Online

If you plan to purchase some Pig’s Ear succulent seeds, try one of these online shops:

Where to Buy Pig’s Ear Plants Online

If you plan to purchase some Pig’s Ear succulent plants, try one of these online shops.

FAQs

Question: Is Pig’s Ear Succulent Toxic?

Answer: Unfortunately, this succulent is toxic to animals so it best to grow them in places where pets cannot get to them.

Question: Are There Medicinal Uses for Pig’s Ear Succulent?

Answer: Yes, many South African tribes have used them to alleviate boils, parasitic worms, corns, and warts. It is always recommended that you do thorough research and seek professional advice before consuming any unknown plant or using it to treat any medical ailment.

Question: Are There Medicinal Uses for Pig’s Ear Succulent?

Answer: Yes, many South African tribes have used them to alleviate boils, parasitic worms, corns, and warts. It is always recommended that you do thorough research and seek professional advice before consuming any unknown plant or using it to treat any medical ailment.

Question: Are There Other Types of Succulents that Can Turn Colors When Placed Under Healthy Stressors?

Answer: Yes, there are many varieties of succulents that will turn shades of purple, red, pink, and even orange when placed in full sunlight, hot environments, or given less water. A few examples can be found here.

Research Citations

Gardenia

World of Succulents

Mountain Crest Gardens

Wikipedia

Sanbi

Succulents and Sunshine

Planet Natural

Succulent City

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