The Pig’s Ear – Cotyledon orbiculata

Succulents are these plants everyone is scrambling to get isn’t always true. Some are on regulations’ blacklists meaning they have a war being wedged against them.

Pig’s ear is one such succulent.

Make no mistake: it’s still a highly-regarded aesthetic addition amongst plant lovers. But not in New Zealand. It features on the National Pest Plant Accord, meaning it cannot be sold nor commercially propagated.

Maybe sad but it shouldn’t worry you – that’s if you’re not in New Zealand. You can still add the pig’s ear succulent to your collection. Want to know more about it?

Here, have at it.

Cotyledon Orbiculata - the Pig’s Ear
Succulent growing in a planter @elianasucculents

Caring for Pig’s Ear

This succulent has little care demands and can thrive well with minimal attention.

Are you looking to grow the pig’s ear succulent? Then the following care regimen will be particularly essential in raising a healthy plant.

Watering

Remember we’re talking about a succulent here – and thrives in mostly dry conditions in the wild. So the occasional watering will serve the plant just fine.

As a rule, always hold back on giving your pig’s ear a drink until the soil has dried out. This can take anywhere from 1-2 weeks – depends on where you live.

Be thorough with the watering whenever you do it. During your sessions, only stop when the water flows out through the bottom of the container.

Be sure to also check out “What to Do When You Underwater Succulents?” for more tips on watering.

The ideal climate for pig’s ear

C. orbiculata is highly drought resistant. So it’s pretty easy to grow it as an outdoor plant in USDA hardiness zones 9b to 12. These are warm areas for a more significant part.

In colder areas, where temperatures can drop to as low as 30o F, it’s better to grow them indoors. In these areas, you can still grow them outside, but then it must be in containers. You can then bring them inside when the cold starts biting. 

Potting mix

Plant your pig’s ear cactus in soil that drains out fast enough. Remember this is a desert dweller where the land is dry most of the time. And the plant has adapted accordingly to survive this.

So a soggy medium will do more harm than good even when your watering sessions are far in between.

Learn how to make your own succulent soil in “How to Make Your own Succulent Soil at Home

Lighting

This hardy beauty is a sunlight lover. You’ll do it – and yourself – a huge favor by allowing it several hours in the sun per day.

For indoors, place it near a sunlit window. If you’re growing it outdoors, make sure it’s set at a well-lit spot with the possibility of a partial shade sometime during the day; the summer heat can get overwhelming.

Be sure to also read “Are Grow Lights Bad for My Succulents” to see if using grow lights could damage your succulents.

Fertilization

Fertilization should be once every year, and that is in late spring or early summer. Feed your pig’s ear with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer containing equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (10-10-10).

Just dissolve a teaspoonful of the fertilizer in a gallon of water, and you’ll be set.

Apply the fertilizer gently in a ring to avoid splashing it on the leaves.

Pruning

Pruning will mainly entail cutting off shriveled blooms. When left on, they’re going to clamp down on the growth of your plant considerably.

All you need is a pair of sharp scissors. Make sure to cut off as much of the stalk as possible.

Make sure to also read “Why Succulents Grow Tall and What to Do About it” for more on controlling the shape and size of your succulent.

Cotyledon Orbiculata - the Pig’s Ear
Potted succulent placed outdoors @beerded_designs

Repotting pig’s ear

Your plant will need a new and bigger container a few years down the line. You should start making arrangements as soon as it starts to easily tip over.

As usual, the pot shouldn’t be too huge – just enough space for the potting soil and root growth. Typically, an inch wider than the previous one is acceptable.

Repotting this succulent during spring when it’s actively growing.

Cotyledon Orbiculata - the Pig’s Ear
A flowering succulent @flori_fairy

Propagating pig’s ear

Propagation of the pig’s ear is through stem cuttings.

Pick out a tall enough stem – 5 cm and above – with a few nodes on it (even a single one will do). Pluck off the stem and dip it in a rooting hormone (of course with the “injured” part in).

Next up is to prepare a paper towel sheet that you’ll use to wrap the stem. Wet the paper towel using warm water and wring it enough to leave it just damp.

Wrap the towel around your stem and set it up on a plate in a sunny spot. Make a point of changing the sheet often adhering to the above process of preparing another one. Be sure also to leave out the nodes when you wrap your stem.

The stem will be ready for potting in about four weeks – this is the period it’ll take to root.

Pig’s ear pests and problems

Snails and slugs are the most common problems you’ll encounter. These are brought about by under growths and debris.

And they’re easily noticeable by the all-familiar slimy lines they leave behind. Another indicator of their presence is small holes in the leaves of your plant.

In that case, you’ll need to set up snail traps to deal with these slimy beings. Also, make a point of making the area around your plant clear.

Cotyledon Orbiculata - the Pig’s Ear
Potted succulent @moon__and__cacti

More than just an ornamental plant – the medicinal uses of pig’s ear

While it’s widely grown for aesthetics, C. orbiculata is known to alleviate several medical conditions. This is fairly common specifically in South Africa, its native home.

And it’s the leaves that come in handy for this purpose.

First off, they can be chewed as a vermifuge which rids the body of parasitic worms for the individuals with an infestation. Secondly, they are applied to the skin in the case of any conditions such as corns and warts.

The leaves can also sometimes be heated and be used in the process of soothing boils and other swellings.

Finally, juice extracts from the leaves are used to combat epilepsy.

Pig’s ear toxicity

The pig’s ear’s leaves are an asset for us humans, as per the above outlined medicinal uses.

But as a pet owner, the same leaves might turn out to be a nightmare for your pets if you’re not careful. They are harmful to a good deal of pets – dogs, horses, sheep, etc.

So it pays to put measures into place if you want a peaceful co-existence between this succulent and your animal friends.

Cotyledon Orbiculata - the Pig’s Ear
Potted succulent with mulching @vaanyali

With the popularity of succulents, there is no shortage of places to grab this cutie. Think about it: own any succulents? Where did you purchase them?

Popular options for buying your very own plant include Amazon and Etsy. Additionally, you can look into succulent-specific stores like Mountain Crest Gardens, Succulent Gardens, Leaf and Clay, etc.

Thank you for reading! Enjoyed learning about the pig’s ear succulent? If so, you’ll really enjoy our ebook about “Rare Succulents You Wish You Knew About“. With this ebook you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents. 

Happy Planting! 🌵

The Pig’s Ear – Cotyledon orbiculata
>