Cotyledon Pendens (The Trailing Cliff Cotyledon)

Cotyledon pendens featured image

Cotyledon Pendens is an easy starter plant that requires little maintenance yet is one of the most beautiful succulents. Native to South Africa, Cotyledon Pendens can often be seen hanging down cliffs which earned them the name cliff cotyledons.

Image from Mountain Crest Garden
  • Family: Crassulaceae.
  • Genus: Cotyledon.
  • Species: Pendens.
  • Other Names: Cliff Cotyledon.
  • Sunlight: Full sunlight.
  • Zone: 10a-11b -1.1°C (30°F).
  • Flowering Season: Midsummer.
  • Climate:  Semi-arid, sub-tropics.
  • Propagation: Easily propagated from cuttings and seeds.
  • Height: 2 feet.
  • Water: Minimum water use. 
  • Others: Toxic Perennial Ornamental due to its trailing, hanging stems.


The branches of the C. pendens are so weighed down by the leaves that they naturally hang down, adding to their exceptional cascading beauty.

Just like a fingerprint, each cotyledon pendens plant is unique. The cotyledon pendens are primarily found in arid regions where they have developed their system of keeping hydrated.

From South Africa, they were taken to Europe and many different parts of the world. This forced them to adapt to their new environment, developing ingenious coping mechanisms, and now they can thrive both in hot and slightly cooler regions.

cotyledon pendens
Cotyledon Pendens @Pinterest


Cotyledon Pendens keeps low to the ground in a shrub-like manner. Contrary to other succulents (or cacti) that seem to reach for the sky with erect, upward-growing stems, C. Pendens is a trailing, multi-branched succulent.

In its natural habitat, undisturbed Cotyledon Pendens can be seen hanging down cliffs in lengthy cascading strings.

C. Pendens branch freely – and somewhat randomly – into long fleshy strands of up to 2 feet (60cm) in length.

Each branch is covered with many tear-shaped leaves arranged in opposite pairs.


C. Pendens grows many leaves, with each stem packed with short, fleshy, tear-drop-shaped leaves. Each leaf is a powdery grey-green culminating in an attractive reddish-tinged margin at the tip.

C. Pendens is a very beautiful succulent and quite popular among succulent lovers.

Each fleshy leaf can grow to a length of 2.5cm, 1.5cm wide, and a thickness of 1cm.


Bell-shaped flowers pop out at the end of the cotyledon pendens trailing branches – sometimes up to 4 at a go.

Cotyledon Pendens flowers can grow up to 4cm in length.

Depending on how much light the plant is getting, its flowers vary in color, displaying different shades of red and orange.

cotyledon pendens flowers
Cotyledon Pendens Flowers @Pinterest

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As with many other succulents, the cotyledon pendens thrives in sunny regions and can go for a long time without water by storing water in its thick elliptic-shaped leaves.

Their low maintenance qualities make the cotyledon pendens a great, fuss-free house plant. To view its full beauty in your house, on your balcony or verandah, suspend the planter on the ceiling and let the flower hang down from the flower pot.


The amount of water you give your plant directly affects its growth. During the Summer season, it is advised that you water your plant every 6 to 8 days. When the temperature drops during winter, watering the plant every 15 to 20 days (once or twice a month) is adequate. If you can’t remember all that, don’t worry, just water when you see the soil in the pot dries up.


Cotyledon Pendens doesn’t need too much fertilizer. You only fertilize when the leaves start to appear lackluster, or you notice a marked reduction in growth, especially during its normal growing season. Feed the plant with an ordinary fertilizer that is not too rich in nitrogen. Apply the fertilizer twice or thrice, depending on how long it takes for you to see an improvement in the succulent. 


C. pendens loves a good amount of light and should be grown in an area bathed regularly in full sunlight.

Your selected location should have a free flow of air. Plenty of sunshine is what your plant needs, but there’s nothing to worry about if your planting spot gets a little shade now and then.

However, if you notice the leaves falling off your plant, this clearly indicates that the plant is not getting enough sunlight.


You can tell the plant’s age and whether it has been well cared for by the color of the leaves. The color of the C. pendens leaves will fade if moved from direct sunlight, but once back in the sun, the plant will regain its natural beauty.

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Image from Mountain Crest Garden

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Cotyledon pendens will thrive in warm regions with total exposure to sunlight and high humidity (around 40%).

This particular succulent is not tolerant of frost or below-zero temperatures and will have to be brought indoors during the freezing winter season.

In areas where temperatures are extremely high, the cotyledon pendens hibernates. It does this to conserve water. Hibernation can last up to 3 months, depending on the prevailing temperature.


Prepare your ground or flower pot with soil that has good drainage properties. This is important as the roots will rot if the soil retains water.

To prepare your growth medium, especially if you use a planter, take equal quantities of soil and sand and mix thoroughly. Your plant will need to eat, so add some compost to the mixture. Add a layer of pumice to the bottom of the pot and pour your soil/sand mixture on top. The pumice and sand provide good drainage, and the pumice goes further to ensure the soil isn’t lost, allowing just the water to slip through.

A few days after planting, the leaves around the edge may start to wither. This should not worry you – it is an indication that the plant is developing roots.

Find Out More About Cotyledon Growth And Care: Tips For Cotyledon Growth and Care


Once every year, you should repot your plant. The plant will produce a lot of roots and leaves, which, if left unattended, can hamper the plant’s growth. To repot, prepare your soil as you did during the first planting. Pour this into a bigger pot and place your plant. Until the roots latch onto the ground, it’s advisable to keep the plant in the shade.

cotyledon pendens repotting
Cotyledon Pendens Repotting @Pinterest


Cotyledon pendens is very prolific in producing leaves, branches, and offsets. All these parts can make the plant substantially bushy and unattractive. Use a sharp pruner or another cutting tool to shape the plant in the shape you prefer. Removing some branches and offsets allows air to pass through the plant more efficiently, which is much healthier for the plant’s health.


The Cliff Cotyledon is the best plant using seeds and offsets, the plant produces offsets efficiently, and you will, therefore, have plenty of them to use. You sow the seeds in the same soil suitable for the plant’s growth. Transplant after the seeds sprouts and grow into a sizeable seedling. Seeds are rare because they take too long, so offset is the most popular propagation method.

The following is how you propagate using offsets.

Use a sharp knife and remove an offset from the main plant to start this process. When the offset is first removed, clean the extra soil on the roots. Removing this extra soil is essential because such soil would be depleted of nutrients, and it may have lost the elements that make it porous.  

Before replanting, wait for a few days to allow it to dry off. Put some newspaper in the pot where you want to plant your offset. The newspaper will keep the soil from falling through drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. You should then add a little pottage and suspend the offset at the center of the pot.

Fill the rest of the pot with some soil around the offset’s roots and press it down. Water the new plant, keep it under bright indirect sunlight, and occasionally mist it to facilitate growth. Use well-draining soil for the new succulent plant. And do not forget to water when the soil dries out.


Cotyledon pendens are not prone to a lot of bug infestation. However, sometimes you might notice a small mealybug or spider mite attack. In most cases, washing with a water/detergent solution is enough. If it persists, then you can use pesticides.


While extremely beautiful and captivating, C. pendens is classified as toxic to animals. The sap from its stem/leaves is harmful to dogs, cats, and even livestock such as goats and cows and can be negatively affected by contact with the plant.


Richard Miller

Salute everyone. It's Richard, the author of this Succulent & Xeriscaping blog. I am a traveler and a nature lover looking for a connection with the wild green. In my journey, I found a love for succulents and xeriscaping. What attracts me is the long-lasting & unique beauty of every plant I have the chance to see with my own eyes. Welcome to my little blog and let's enjoy a good time together!

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