Cotyledon Orbiculata Care and Propagation (A Complete Guide)

By | Updated November 5, 2023

Cotyledon orbiculata care is a relatively easy task, and growing it can be a wonderfully rewarding hobby.

The Cotyledon orbiculata plant is also known as the Pig’s ear or Round-leafed navel-wort. It has become popular because of its beautiful leaves and ease of care.

This article will give you all the information you need about how to take care of your Cotyledon orbiculata, including how to propagate it!


Cotyledon orbiculata, also known as Pig’s ear or Round-leafed navel-wort, is a succulent plant of the Cotyledon genus native of South Africa.

The most distinguishing feature of the Cotyledon orbiculata is its fleshy, red-rimmed leaves that closely resemble a pig’s ear.

It also has bell-shaped, orange, yellow, or red flowers that can grow to 24 inches on tall stalks from late summer to early autumn.

The Cotyledon orbiculata plant has many varieties depending on differences in the leaf shape and flowers. The common varieties are:

  • Cotyledon orbiculata var. flanaganii 
  • Cotyledon orbiculata var. oblonga
  • Cotyledon orbiculata var. spuria

How To Care for Cotyledon Orbiculata (Pig’s Ear)

Cotyledon Orbiculata care is relatively easy.

Cotyledons have lots of uses beyond being an addition to your home garden or terrarium setup.

You may run across Cotyledon Orbiculata while gardening, as they are often used as groundcover plants.

This succulent plant does well in a wide variety of conditions.

Sun Exposure & Light Requirements

Cotyledon orbiculata is a sun-loving succulent. It will need about six hours of full sunlight per day to thrive. Still, it can survive in partial shade if it has good air circulation and receives water regularly.

You can grow Cotyledon orbiculata in a bright window with good air circulation. Still, if it is too close to the glass, the leaves will turn brown because they are not getting enough light.

You may have more success putting them on a shelf near the top of an east- or west-facing window that receives full morning sun and afternoon shade.

If you choose this option, be sure to move your plant away from any direct sunlight during midday hours when temperatures rise inside.

Watering Requirements

Cotyledon orbiculata succulent plants need to be watered when the soil is dry.

Try not to overwater Cotyledon orbiculata, as the plant prefers a more arid environment and will rot if too much moisture is present in the soil.

Cotyledon orbiculata plants will often have better luck being watered from the top of their soil. This is because Cotyledon orbiculata succulent plants are sensitive to water droplets on their leaves and stems, which can cause rot or other problems.

If you are unsure about how much or little watering your Cotyledon orbiculata needs, then stick with giving them an inch of water per week until they show signs of struggling, at which point you can adjust accordingly.

Soil Requirements

The Cotyledon orbiculata (Pig’s ear) plant needs a well-draining soil mix.

The potting soil should be light; the best type for this succulent is a cactus or succulent potting mix.

The succulent mix should be light, fluffy, and porous so the roots have plenty of room for growth.

A good mixture consists of 50% cactus potting soil or succulent potting mix with 50% sand mixed in. Sandy loam would work too, as long as no large clay particles are present for it to drain well.

Temperature and Humidity Requirements

Cotyledon Orbiculata plants thrive in warm temperatures of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) during the day. Still, they require a lower nighttime temperature of 60-65 F (16-18 C).

Cotyledon Orbiculata is tolerant of temperature fluctuations as long as they’re not too drastic (i.e., below freezing at night).

If you live in a cooler climate without daytime temperatures above 70 F (21 C), grow Cotyledon Orbiculata indoors, where they can be given direct light from artificial lamps during the day. 

This way, their lower nighttime temperatures will fall within acceptable ranges.

The humidity requirements for a Cotyledon Orbiculata are moderate, within the 50%-70% range. Too much humidity can lead to mold and rot.

To keep the plant healthy, mist it with water regularly during the summer months or if its leaves start looking dry.


Pig’s ear succulents are not heavy feeders and do well with light feeding once or twice a year. The best time to fertilize is in late spring or early summer.

A balanced “slow-release” organic fertilizer is best, but a water-soluble fertilizer can also be used.

If you use a granular fertilizer, use half the normal dose because succulents don’t need much to grow and become leggy.

Potting and Repotting

Cotyledon orbiculata thrives with good drainage, so potting and repotting should be done once the plant starts to outgrow its container.

To do this, choose pots with holes in the bottom or use gravel to protect against overwatering.

The preferred soil mix is a cactus mix. It provides enough water retention for Cotyledons while having excellent draining capabilities.

If the cactus mix is not available, a soil mixture can be done with equal parts of potting soil and sand.

Pull at the plant base to transplant the Cotyledon and grab it with a firm grip.

Carefully tease apart any surrounding roots that have wrapped themselves around other plants or objects in an attempt to get some extra nutrients from them.

Now place your new home for the succulent on top of the soil mixture and make sure it’s stable before planting.

Fill up the pot until there is about one-inch distance between surface level and hole edge line, then water enough to moisten well without drowning or over-wetting so that all air pockets will be eliminated.

Repotting Cotyledon orbiculata (Pig’s ear) is recommended during spring when it’s actively growing.


Pruning Cotyledon orbiculata is unnecessary but can be done if you want to shape the plant into a bush-like form with fewer leaves.

This will also promote new growth and make it easier for sunlight to reach each leaf, which in turn will produce more chlorophyll and cause them to grow faster.

Find an area of the plant that is not growing well or is out of place and remove it carefully from its stem without damaging any other leaves.

If you want to shape your Cotyledon orbiculata in a bush form, use sharp pruning shears to cut away at least two inches off the top for each branch before cutting them back.

Make sure you don’t overdo it, as this will make more work for yourself later on when trying to control growth.

If you are going to prune Cotyledon orbiculata, do it after their first year of growth, so they have time to recover from any accidental cuts and wounds caused during the process.

Pests and Diseases

The Cotyledon orbiculata is a tough plant that can succumb to pests and diseases.


The most common pest that attacks the Pig’s Ear are mealybugs.

Mealybugs secrete honeydew which may lead to sooty mold growth on plants, leaves, or even walls if left unchecked.

To combat this issue, you can use neem oil or insecticidal soap.

Other pests that can attack Cotyledon orbiculata are spider mites, scale insects, and aphids. They often coexist with mealybugs.

The best way to stop bugs from eating your plants is by using water and soap. This should be done every two weeks. To make sure the bugs are gone, you can also use a neem oil spray or horticultural oils to kill them.

This should be done at least once a month for optimum results.


Other common problems faced by succulent plants are root rot and fungal issues due to overwatering.

To combat this, you should thoroughly check your plant’s moisture levels at least once a week.

If it appears too wet or moist, you may need to allow more time between each watering session until the soil dries out completely before adding any more water again.

If your Pig’s Ear succulent does not respond favorably to this, it may need repotting into a drier soil mix.

How to Care for Cotyledon Orbiculata (Pig’s Ear) in Winter

Cotyledon orbiculata care in winter, like most succulents and cacti, is straightforward. Here are some instructions:

  • Place it in a sunny window for at least six hours per day.
  • Cut back watering during winter to twice a month or so.
  • Keep the soil moist, not wet or soggy. Add water when you see it dry out, and ensure there is no standing water on the surface of any trays with cuttings.
  • Do not place Cotyledon orbiculata outside during winter unless they have been acclimated to colder temperatures. Keep all plants inside until spring arrives if they are planted outdoors.
  • Discard any leaves that have started to turn yellow or brown.
  • Add a layer of mulch to protect from frost heaves when the soil freezes.

If you live in a very cold area with hard frosts throughout most winters and see no sign of spring arriving yet, it is recommended that Cotyledon orbiculata be kept inside until warmer weather returns at the start of summer.

They can be placed outside during this time, but only if they have been acclimated to colder temperatures beforehand by gradually introducing them over two weeks before placing them outdoors again.

How To Propagate Cotyledon Orbiculata (Pig’s Ear)

Potted Cotyledon orbiculata plants can be propagated by taking the leaves off a mature plant and sticking them in moist soil.

The roots will form on their own, and then you simply transplant them when they are ready to grow outside.

You may also propagate by dividing an established Cotyledon orbiculata succulent that has been planted for some time into several smaller pieces, each with one or more rosette(s) and new growth from below ground level.

These clippings should have at least two sets of healthy leaves before planting out and watering regularly.

If you want to start your own Cotyledon orbiculata (Pig’s Ear) plants from seeds, it is best to sow the seeds on top of a potting mix that has been moistened.

The Cotyledon orbiculata seed will need darkness to germinate, so it should be covered with dirt or sand and placed in indirect light until they sprout.

Cotyledon Orbiculata care involves watering when needed since these succulent plants do not like prolonged exposure to water.

You can use cactus soil for this as well as any other standard container garden soil mixture because Cotyledon orbiculata are drought-tolerant plants.

They also grow better outdoors than indoors, making them great for landscaping!

Is the Cotyledon Orbiculata (Pig’s Ear) Toxic?

The Cotyledon orbiculata is not toxic to humans and has some medicinal uses.  

The leaves are often used as a poultice and often applied to warts and corn in South Africa. The leaves are also used for boils or skin ulcers in other areas where the plant grows.

However, the Cotyledon orbiculata is considered toxic to cattle, dogs, and other animals. It can trigger a condition in animals known as cotyledonosis.

Since Cotyledon orbiculata plants are toxic for these mammals, you must always keep them away from your pets!

Final Thoughts

The Pig’s Ear plant, scientifically called Cotyledon Orbiculata, is a succulent that is simple to propagate and maintain.

The succulent has a thick and fleshy stem with green leaves on top of the plant’s body.

When given proper care, the Cotyledon Orbiculata is relatively low maintenance and produces long-lasting flowers.

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