How to grow and care for Pig's Ear Plant (Cotyledon orbiculata) Indoors

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Pig's Ear Plant

Botanical name: Cotyledon orbiculata
Family: Crassulaceae

Pig's Ear Plant also called Round-leafed Navel-wort, Silver Pig's Ears or Round-leafed Cotyledon is a common and easy to grow succulent houseplant.

The Pig's Ear Plant grows to a height of about 4 ft. The leaves are grey-green about 5 by 3 in. in size and are covered with a white powdery substance which helps them to reflect light and allows them to conserve water.

The shape of the leaf in Pig's Ear Plant has a resemblance to a pig's ear and hence the common name, 'Pig's Ear'.

Pig's Ear Plant bears small bell-shaped flowers usually 1.2 in. long which droop from the top of a 24 in. tall stalk. The flowers are usually orange-red but yellow varieties also exist.

Pig's Ear Plant is native to South Africa. A large number of varieties and cultivated forms are available, some of which may resemble Kalanchoe thyrsiflora (Paddle Plant). Pig's Ear Plant is closely related to Cotyledon undulata (Silver Crown Plant Plant), another Cotyledon plant that is a popular houseplant.

How to Grow Pig's Ear Plant (Cotyledon orbiculata)

Light for Pig's Ear Plant

Pig's Ear Plant grows best in bright light to full sunlight. Should you choose to take your Pig's Ear Plant outdoors, gradually acclimatize the plant and place it in a shaded place to avoid scorching the leaves. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

How to Water Pig's Ear Plant

Water your Pig's Ear Plant thoroughly during the hot season and allow the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Water very infrequently in the cold months.

Ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to avoid getting soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot in your Pig's Ear Plant.

Avoid wetting the leavesof your Pig's Ear Plant as it can lead to rotting. Water from the bottom instead.

Use room temperature water to avoid shocking your Pig's Ear Plant. Read more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature for Pig's Ear Plant

Average warmth temperatures between 16-260C are ideal for your Pig's Ear Plant.

The sudden change in temperature between day and night is excellent for your Pig's Ear succulent plant. Check out this guide on understanding temperature for houseplants.

Humidity for Pig's Ear Plant

Average room humidity is adequate for your Pig's Ear Plant. Pig's Ear Plant has no need for high humidity.

Fertilizer (Feeding) for Pig's Ear Plant

Feed your Pig's Ear Plant monthly during the growing period with a water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding in the cold season as Pig's Ear Plant's growth is minimal.

How to Repot Pig's Ear Plant

Repot your Pig's Ear Plant only when it becomes pot-bound. Use a shallow rather than a deep pot; they have shallow roots. The pot should be only 1 size larger than the previous one.

Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot.

A clay pot is preferable for your Pig's Ear Plant because it is porous and therefore allows the soil to dry out faster. Also ensure the soil is loose and free-draining.

How to Prune Pig's Ear Plant

Pruning your Pig's Ear Plant requires the removal of dead and diseased leaves to maintain your plant neat and tidy. Remove dead flowers to keep the plant neat and tidy.

How to Propagate Pig's Ear Plant (Cotyledon orbiculata)

Pig's Ear Plant can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem cuttings.

How to propagate Pig's Ear Plant from stem cuttings

Take a cutting of about 2-4 in. long from your Pig's Ear Plant. Ensure it has at 2 or 3 leaf nodes. Allow the cuttings to dry (callous) for 1-3 days before planting.

Once calloused, stick the cutting into moist free-draining, sandy soil. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to avoid having soggy soil.

Place the set up in a well lit warm place. Water sparingly, only when the soil is dry and avoid soggy soil as it can lead to rotting. The Pig's Ear cuttings should root in 3-4 weeks.

Common Problems in Growing Pig's Ear Plant (Cotyledon orbiculata)

  • Why is my Pig's Ear Plant dropping (shedding) leaves?
  • Overwatering or underwatering are the causes of leaf drop in your Pig's Ear Plant. Water your Pig's Ear Plant thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top soil to dry out between waterings.

    Avoid overwatering your Pig's Ear Plant by ensuring that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining. Significantly reduce watering your Pig's Ear Plant during the cold season. Never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.

  • Why is my Pig's Ear Plant growing tall and weak (leggy)?
  • Leggy Pig's Ear Plant is an indication of inadequate lighting ; your plant is reaching for light therefore it stretches. You can resolve this issue by moving your Pig's Ear Plant to a sunnier spot.

  • Why does my Pig's Ear Plant have brown soft leaf spots?
  • The cause of brown soft spots in your Pig's Ear Plant is Leaf spot disease which is enhanced by poor air circulation. Ensure there is free air circulation at all times.

  • Why is my Pig's Ear Plant rotting at the base followed by yellowing and shriveled leaves?
  • Rotting plant base followed by yellowing and shrivelled leaves in your Pig's Ear Plant is an indication of basal stem-rot disease which is brought about by overwet conditions. Avoid overwatering, ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining.

  • Which are the common pests in Pig's Ear Plant?
  • Common pests in Pig's Ear Plant are Mealy Bugs and Scale Insects. Isolate the affected plant to reduce spread to other houseplants.

Is Pig's Ear Plant (Cotyledon orbiculata) toxic?

The leaves of Pig's Ear Plant (Cotyledon orbiculata) contain cotyledontoxin which is toxic to sheep, goats, horses, cattle, poultry and dogs. If ingested it causes a condition called cotyledonosis. Keep the plant out of the reach of animals.

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