Looking for a unique houseplant? Cotyledon Orbiculata, more commonly known as the Pig’s Ear plant, is a great option. While this plant can be tricky to care for, with the right information it can thrive indoors.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a warm climate, you can grow the pig’s ear plant outside. But for those of us living in colder climates, the pig’s ear plant makes an excellent indoor companion. This succulent is easy to care for and has beautiful, lacy leaves that add a touch of greenery to any room.
Cotyledon orbiculata Main Characteristics
Pig’s Ear Plant (Cotyledon orbiculata) is a succulent perennial that usually grows up to 4 feet tall. These plants are native to the Karoo region of South Africa. The leaves are fleshy and oval in shape, resembling a pig’s ear, hence the name. Their borders are covered with a thin red margin that accentuates the often dull green color of the leaves.
Flowers appear from late summer to autumn on long, thin stalks over 2 feet tall. Multiple stalks emerge from the plant base at once, making for a gorgeous floral display. Each stalk is host to a number of these orange and red bell-shaped flowers with recurved lobes.
|Common Name||Pig’s Ear, Round-Leafed Navel-Wort|
|Botanical Name||Cotyledon orbiculata|
|Synonyms||Cotyledon elata Cotyledon ovata Cotyledon ramosaCotyledon oblonga|
|Native Range||South Africa|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||9a to 11b|
|Mature Size||Height: 2-4 feet; Spread: up to 1 foot|
|Bloom Time||Summer, Autumn|
|Propagation methods||by seeds, by cuttings|
Cotyledon orbiculata Care
The Pig’s Ear Plant is drought tolerant and can be used in xeriscaping. It also does well in containers and makes a good houseplant. The plant is also used for medicinal purposes in some regions of the world despite its inherent toxicity. It is said to be helpful in treating respiratory problems, fever, and headaches. If you’re thinking of getting one of these to brighten up your garden, don’t hesitate! You’d be hard-pressed to find a more forgiving plant.
Light and Location
As a succulent, Cotyledon orbiculata loves bright light. Whether or not you should place it in the full sun depends on the intensity of sunlight in your region. Just remember, the plant needs time to acclimate to its environment, so don’t move it from shade to sunlight too quickly.
Pig’s Ear Plant tolerates quite a bit of neglect when it comes to watering. Its drought-tolerant nature makes it uniquely suited for it. But for best results, water regularly in the growing season. Though make sure the soil is well-drained, as succulents like these don’t like being waterlogged.
Just don’t water from the top; the leaves of these plants are covered with a thin white fuzz that can get washed away if you pour water directly over them. This fuzz is what enables the plant to stand in full sun, so you don’t want to damage it.
Cotyledon orbiculata is frost tolerant to about 5°C (40°F). In a colder region, growing this plant outside in the summertime is possible, but you’ll have to bring it indoors when winter comes. Like other succulents, it’s advisable to keep this plant dry in the winter; this has the added benefit of extending its frost tolerance to -5°C (23°F).
The Pig’s Ear Plant doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer. A little bit during the growing season should be fine, but over-fertilizing can damage the succulent. Use a fertilizer low in nitrogen diluted to half strength.
Propagating Cotyledon Orbiculata
Cotyledon orbiculata can be propagated by seeds and by cuttings. To propagate by seeds, simply sow the seeds in a well-drained soil mix and keep the soil lightly moist until germination occurs. Germination should happen within 2-4 weeks.
To propagate by cuttings:
- Take a leaf cutting from a healthy plant and allow it to dry out for a few days.
- Place the cutting in a well-drained soil mix amended with sand or perlite.
- Keep the soil mix moist until the cutting roots.
Potting and Repotting Cotyledon Orbiculata
Pig’s Ear Plant can be potted in a variety of soil mixes. A succulent mix or cactus mix will work well. The pot should have drainage holes in the bottom to allow water to escape and prevent the plant from being waterlogged.
When the plant becomes root-bound, it’s time to repot it into a larger pot. Be sure to use a pot that is only slightly larger than the current pot and make sure the soil mix has been amended with sand or perlite to ensure good drainage.
Cotyledon orbiculata is moderately toxic to both humans and animals. Its sap can cause skin irritation, so be sure to wear gloves when handling the plant. If ingested, the plant can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. So, if you have small children or pets, it might be best to choose a different plant for your garden.
Common Pests and Diseases
Pig’s Ear Plant is prone to mealybugs and aphids. If you notice any of these pests, take action quickly to eliminate them. You can use horticultural oil or insecticidal soap to treat the plant.
Caring For A Pig’s Ear Plant: Everything You Need To Know (Video)
How Do You Trim A Pig’s Ears?
You can trim a pig’s ears with sharp scissors. The only time you want to trim is when the leaves show signs of wilting. Cut off these leaves from the base as they’re at the end of their lifecycle.
Can You Eat Pigs Ear Plant?
No, the plant is poisonous if ingested. However, there are some medical uses for the leaves. But none of these medications are ingested orally.
Is Cotyledon Orbiculata Poisonous to Dogs?
Cotyledon orbiculata can be poisonous to dogs if they consume large quantities of the plant. The plant contains cotyledontoxin which can be toxic to animals if ingested in large quantities. If you suspect your dog has eaten any part of this plant, it is best to seek veterinary advice.