Botanical name: Cotyledon orbiculata
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. It 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 has a resemblance to a pig's ear and hence the common name, Pig's Ear. The 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.
Pig's Ear Plant grows best in bright light to full sunlight. Should you choose to take it outdoors, gradually acclimatize the plant and place it in a shaded place to avoid scorching the leaves. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.
Water 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. Avoid waterlogging which may lead to root-rot. Avoiding wetting the leaves as it can lead to rotting. Watering from the bottom is safer. Use room temperature water to avoid shocking the plant. Learn more on how to water houseplants.
Average warmth temperatures between 16-260C are ideal for Pig's Ear Plant. The sudden change in temperature between day and night is excellent for this succulent.
Average room humidity is adequate for Pig's Ear Plant. The plant has no need for high humidity.
Feed Pig's Ear Plant monthly during the growing period with a water-soluble fertilizer. Withhold feeding in the cold season as growth is minimal.
Repot Pig's Ear Plant only when the plant 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 avoid waterlogging which can lead to root-rot. A clay pot is preferable because it is porous and therefore allows the soil to dry out faster. Also ensure the soil is loose and free-draining.
Pruning Pig's Ear Plant requires the removal of dead and diseased leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. Remove dead flowers to keep the plant neat and tidy.
Pig's Ear Plant can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem cuttings. Take a cutting about 2 in. long, with at least 1 or 2 nodes of leaves. Allow the cuttings to dry (callous) for 1-3 days before planting. Stick the cut end into moist soil in moist free-draining, sandy soil. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to avoid waterlogging. Place in a well lit warm place. Water sparingly, only when the soil is dry and avoid waterlogging which can lead to rotting. Rooting should occur in 3-4 weeks.
Overwatering or underwatering are the cause of leaf drop in Pig's Ear Plant. Water Pig's Ear Plant thoroughly during the growing season and allow the top soil to dry out between waterings. Avoid overwatering by ensuring that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining. Significantly to reduce watering during the cold season. Never allow the soil ball to dry out completely.
Leggy Pig's Ear Plant is an indication of inadequate lighting ; the plant is reaching for light therefore it stretches. Move the plant to a sunnier spot.
The cause of brown soft spots in Pig's Ear Plant is Leaf spot disease which is enhanced by poor air circulation. Ensure there is free air circulation at all times.
Rotting plant base followed by yellowing and shrivelled leaves in 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.
The leaves of Pig's Ear Plant 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.