Pig's Ear Succulent

Growing and Caring for Pig’s Ear Succulent Plant

Learn how to grow and care for Pig’s Ear succulent plants. Discover essential tips for nurturing this resilient, beautiful succulent. Explore step-by-step guidance and expert advice.


The world of succulent enthusiasts is teeming with an array of captivating and diverse plants, each with its unique charm. Among these, the Pig’s Ear succulent, scientifically known as Portulacaria afra, is a remarkable choice for both novice and experienced plant enthusiasts. Its common names include Elephant Bush and Dwarf Jade, hinting at its delightful appearance and resilience. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the art of cultivating and nurturing Pig’s Ear succulents, ensuring they thrive and flourish in your care.

Pig's Ear Succulent

Pig’s Ear succulents Taxonomy

Pig’s Ear succulents belong to the following taxonomy:

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Phylum: Angiosperms
  • Class: Eudicots
  • Order: Saxifragales
  • Family: Crassulaceae
  • Genus: Cotyledon (formerly Kalanchoe)
  • Species: Cotyledon orbiculata

1. Understanding Pig’s Ear Succulent

Pig's Ear Succulent

The first step in nurturing any plant is to understand its characteristics fully. Pig’s Ear succulents are native to South Africa and belong to the family Portulacaceae. These succulents are known for their attractive, fleshy, and oval-shaped leaves that resemble a pig’s ear. The leaves range in color from green to deep burgundy and are the key feature that makes them a popular choice among plant enthusiasts.

Pig’s Ear succulents can grow as small shrubs or trees, depending on their age and care. They have a thick stem that stores water, making them highly adaptable to dry conditions. These succulents can thrive both indoors and outdoors, making them a versatile addition to any garden or indoor plant collection.

Fun Fact: Pig’s Ear succulents are sometimes referred to as “Elephant Bush” due to their role as a favorite food source for elephants in their native habitat.

2. Selecting the Perfect Location

The success of growing and caring for your Pig’s Ear succulent largely depends on choosing the right spot for it to thrive. These remarkable plants have specific light and temperature requirements that, when met, result in lush, healthy foliage. In this section, we’ll explore the critical aspects of selecting the perfect location for your Pig’s Ear succulent, whether you’re nurturing it indoors or cultivating it in an outdoor garden.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Cultivation

Before we dive into the specifics of lighting and temperature, consider whether you want to grow your Pig’s Ear succulent indoors or outdoors. The choice primarily depends on your climate and living situation. Pig’s Ear succulents can flourish in both settings, but each comes with its considerations.

1. Indoor Cultivation:

If you choose to grow your Pig’s Ear succulent indoors, here’s what you need to know:

  • Light Source: These succulents require bright, indirect sunlight. Place them near a south or west-facing window where they can receive ample sunlight throughout the day. South and west-facing windows typically provide the best light exposure for indoor succulents.
  • Light Meter: Consider using a light meter to measure the intensity of sunlight your succulent receives. This handy tool allows you to adjust the placement of your plant to ensure it gets the right amount of light. Aim for at least six hours of indirect sunlight daily.
  • Temperature: Pig’s Ear succulents thrive in temperatures between 65°F to 80°F (18°C to 27°C). Keep them away from drafts or extreme temperature fluctuations, as they can stress the plant.

2. Outdoor Cultivation:

If you prefer an outdoor garden, follow these guidelines:

  • Sunlight: Pig’s Ear succulents do well outdoors, provided they receive sufficient light without scorching. Choose a location with partial shade, especially in regions with intense sunlight. Morning sun and afternoon shade can be ideal.
  • Protection: While these succulents love sunlight, they are sensitive to extreme heat. If you live in a hot climate, provide some protection from the scorching midday sun, such as under the dappled shade of taller plants or a garden umbrella.
  • Temperature: Ensure that the temperature doesn’t drop below 50°F (10°C). Pig’s Ear succulents are sensitive to cold, and prolonged exposure to low temperatures can damage or kill them.

Expert Tip: Using a Light Meter

A light meter is a valuable tool for any succulent enthusiast, whether you’re growing plants indoors or outdoors. Here’s how you can make the most of it:

  • Measure the Light: Place the light meter at the location where you intend to keep your Pig’s Ear succulent. Leave it there for a day to get an accurate reading of the light intensity.
  • Adjust Placement: Based on the light meter’s reading, you can adjust the placement of your succulent to ensure it’s getting the right amount of light. Move it closer to the window or provide shade as needed.
  • Regular Monitoring: Continue to use the light meter periodically, especially if you notice changes in your succulent’s growth or appearance. Seasonal changes in the angle of the sun may require you to adapt its placement.

3. Choosing the Right Soil

One of the fundamental factors in successfully growing and caring for Pig’s Ear succulents is selecting the appropriate soil. These resilient plants, like all succulents, have specific soil requirements that play a crucial role in their overall health and vitality. In this section, we’ll delve into the importance of well-draining soil, provide guidance on suitable soil choices, and emphasize the significance of proper drainage in container gardening.

The Role of Well-Draining Soil

Succulents, including Pig’s Ear succulents, are native to arid regions where water is scarce. To adapt to such environments, they have evolved to store water in their leaves and stems. However, this adaptation also makes them susceptible to overwatering and root rot if not planted in the right soil. Here’s why well-draining soil is paramount:

  • Preventing Root Rot: Well-draining soil ensures that excess water doesn’t accumulate around the roots, reducing the risk of root rot—a common issue that can be fatal to succulents.
  • Healthy Growth: Properly aerated soil allows the roots to breathe and absorb nutrients efficiently, promoting robust and healthy growth.
  • Optimal Water Management: Well-draining soil helps maintain the right balance of moisture. It allows the soil to dry out between watering sessions, mimicking the succulent’s natural habitat.

Choosing the Right Soil Mix

When it comes to selecting the ideal soil mix for Pig’s Ear succulents, you have a few options:

  • Cactus or Succulent Potting Mix: These commercially available mixes are specially formulated for succulents and cacti. They usually contain a combination of organic matter, sand, and perlite to ensure proper drainage. This is a convenient choice for most succulent enthusiasts.
  • DIY Mix: If you prefer a hands-on approach, you can create your soil blend. Start with a regular potting soil and add sand or perlite to improve drainage. A typical mixture is one part sand or perlite to two parts potting soil. Mix thoroughly to ensure an even distribution of materials.

Container Gardening and Drainage

If you’re planting Pig’s Ear succulents in containers, whether indoors or outdoors, there’s an additional consideration: proper drainage. Here’s why it’s crucial:

  • Drainage Holes: Ensure that the pots or containers you choose have drainage holes at the bottom. These holes allow excess water to escape, preventing it from pooling at the bottom of the pot.
  • Potting Medium: Fill the container with your chosen well-draining succulent soil mix. Make sure it extends to the bottom of the pot to facilitate drainage.
  • Elevate the Pot: When placing the pot on a saucer or tray, consider elevating it slightly with pot feet or stones. This elevating technique allows excess water to flow out freely, reducing the risk of waterlogged soil.

4. Planting Your Pig’s Ear Succulent

Planting your Pig’s Ear succulent is an exciting step in the journey of nurturing this unique and charming plant. Proper planting ensures that your succulent establishes a strong root system and thrives in its new environment. In this section, we’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to plant your Pig’s Ear succulent, whether you’re starting from a nursery pot or transplanting.

Step-by-Step Planting Guide:

  • Select a Pot or Container with Drainage Holes: The first consideration when planting Pig’s Ear succulents is choosing an appropriate container. Whether you’re using a pot, planter, or any other container, it must have drainage holes at the bottom. These holes are crucial for preventing water from accumulating and causing root rot.
  • Fill it with the Well-Draining Succulent Soil Mix: Prepare your container by filling it with the well-draining succulent soil mix you’ve selected. Ensure the soil reaches the bottom of the container while leaving enough space to accommodate the root ball of your succulent.
  • Gently Remove Your Succulent from Its Nursery Pot: If you’re starting with a succulent from a nursery pot, gently remove it from the pot. Carefully hold the base of the plant and tap the sides of the pot to loosen the soil. Be cautious not to damage the roots or stems during this process.
  • Dig a Hole in the Soil: In your prepared container, create a hole in the soil that is slightly larger than the root ball of your Pig’s Ear succulent. This hole should accommodate the roots comfortably without crowding them.
  • Place the Succulent in the Hole and Cover the Roots: Position your Pig’s Ear succulent in the hole you’ve created, ensuring that it sits at the same depth as it did in its previous pot or nursery container. Gently spread out the roots to encourage them to grow outward. Once the succulent is in place, fill the hole with the well-draining soil mix, patting it down lightly to secure the plant.
  • Water the Plant Lightly to Settle the Soil: After planting, give your succulent a light watering to help settle the soil and remove any air pockets around the roots. Be cautious not to overwater at this stage. Succulents prefer to have slightly dry soil when initially planted.

Pro Tips for Successful Planting:

  • Use a Container with Good Aeration: Select a container that allows for good air circulation around the roots. This promotes oxygen exchange, which is essential for healthy root development.
  • Choose the Right Container Size: Ensure your container is appropriately sized for your succulent. It should provide enough space for the succulent to grow without becoming overcrowded.
  • Handle with Care: When transplanting or handling your Pig’s Ear succulent, be gentle to avoid damaging the leaves, stems, or roots. Succulents are generally hardy, but care during planting can make a significant difference in their overall health.

5. Watering Your Pig’s Ear Succulent

Watering your Pig’s Ear succulent is a crucial aspect of its care routine. These hardy plants are adapted to survive in arid environments, and understanding their watering needs is essential for their health and well-being. In this section, we’ll explore the art of proper watering, including frequency, technique, and seasonal adjustments, to ensure your Pig’s Ear succulent thrives.

Effective Watering Guidelines:

  • Water Thoroughly but Allow the Soil to Dry Out Between Watering Sessions: Pig’s Ear succulents are adapted to withstand periods of drought. Therefore, it’s essential to water them thoroughly when needed but allow the soil to dry out between watering sessions. Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes that succulent enthusiasts make and can lead to root rot.
  • Check Soil Moisture with Your Finger: A simple yet effective method to determine when to water your succulent is to stick your finger into the soil about an inch deep. If the soil feels dry at this depth, it’s time to water. If it still feels moist, hold off on watering until it dries out.
  • Reduce Watering During Dormant Winter Months: Like many succulents, Pig’s Ear succulents have a dormant period during the winter months when their growth slows down. During this time, they require less water. Adjust your watering schedule to be less frequent and water sparingly to prevent overhydration.
  • Use Room Temperature or Lukewarm Water: Always use room temperature or lukewarm water when watering your Pig’s Ear succulent. Cold water can shock the plant, potentially causing stress and damage. Watering with water at the right temperature ensures a smooth transition for the plant.

Pro Tip: Use a Narrow-Spout Watering Can

To water your Pig’s Ear succulent effectively and avoid getting water on the leaves, consider using a watering can with a narrow spout. This precision tool allows you to direct the water directly to the soil at the base of the plant, minimizing the risk of moisture accumulating on the leaves. Wet leaves can lead to rot or fungal issues, so keeping them dry is essential for the succulent’s overall health.

Observation and Adaptation

While these watering guidelines provide a solid foundation for caring for your Pig’s Ear succulent, it’s important to remember that environmental factors, such as temperature, humidity, and the size of the pot, can influence your plant’s water needs. Therefore, it’s crucial to observe your succulent regularly and adapt your watering routine as needed.

6. Fertilizing Pig’s Ear Succulents

While Pig’s Ear succulents are known for their resilience and ability to thrive in various conditions, they can benefit from occasional fertilization to enhance their growth and overall health. Fertilizing your succulents is like providing them with a nutritious meal to ensure they have the energy and nutrients needed for robust development. In this section, we’ll dive deeper into the art of fertilizing Pig’s Ear succulents, focusing on timing, types of fertilizer, and best practices.

The Importance of Fertilizing

Before we delve into the specifics of fertilizing, let’s understand why it’s essential for your Pig’s Ear succulents. While these plants can survive with minimal nutrients, providing them with the right fertilization can result in several benefits:

  • Enhanced Growth: Fertilizers contain essential nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N-P-K), that stimulate growth. This means more leaves, thicker stems, and a healthier overall appearance for your succulent.
  • Vibrant Foliage: Proper fertilization can lead to lusher and more colorful leaves. Pig’s Ear succulents can display various shades of green, red, or purple, and the right nutrients can intensify these colors.
  • Resilience: A well-fed succulent is better equipped to withstand stressors such as drought or pests. Fertilization contributes to the plant’s overall strength and vitality.

When to Fertilize

Fertilization timing is crucial to ensure your Pig’s Ear succulent benefits optimally. Here’s a general guideline:

  • Growing Season: The ideal time to fertilize your succulent is during the active growing season, which typically spans spring through summer. During this period, your plant is expending energy on producing new leaves and stems.
  • Frequency: Aim to fertilize every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. This interval allows for a consistent supply of nutrients without overdoing it. Over-fertilization can lead to nutrient imbalances and harm your succulent.
  • Dormant Winter Months: As the winter months roll around, Pig’s Ear succulents enter a semi-dormant phase with reduced growth. During this time, it’s best to reduce or entirely cease fertilization. The plant’s metabolic activity slows down, and excess nutrients may not be absorbed efficiently, potentially causing issues.

Choosing the Right Fertilizer

Selecting the correct type of fertilizer is crucial to ensure your Pig’s Ear succulent receives the nutrients it needs without overloading it. Here are some considerations:

  • Balanced Fertilizer: Look for a balanced, diluted liquid succulent fertilizer. These are formulated with the essential N-P-K nutrients in balanced proportions, such as 10-10-10 or 2-2-2. This balance ensures that all required nutrients are provided without favoring one over the other.
  • Dilution: Always dilute the fertilizer more than recommended on the package. A general rule of thumb is to dilute it to half or even a quarter of the recommended strength. Succulents are adapted to nutrient-poor environments, so they don’t need a full-strength dose.
  • Organic Options: Some succulent enthusiasts prefer organic fertilizers for their plants. Organic options can be beneficial as they release nutrients slowly and promote soil health. Just ensure they are formulated for succulents and follow the dilution guidelines.

Application Technique

When it’s time to fertilize your Pig’s Ear succulent, follow these steps for a successful application:

  • Wait for the Right Time: Make sure you’re in the active growing season, typically spring through summer.
  • Dilute the Fertilizer: Mix the liquid succulent fertilizer with water according to the package instructions. Remember to dilute it more than recommended.
  • Apply at the Base: Carefully pour the diluted fertilizer at the base of your succulent. Avoid getting the fertilizer on the leaves, as this can lead to burns.
  • Water After Fertilization: Give your succulent a light watering after applying the fertilizer. This helps the nutrients reach the roots effectively.

Monitor and Adjust

As with any aspect of succulent care, it’s crucial to monitor your Pig’s Ear succulent’s response to fertilization. If you notice signs of over-fertilization, such as brown leaf tips or an unnatural color change, reduce the frequency or strength of your fertilizer application. Conversely, if your succulent seems undernourished, you can slightly increase the frequency, but always err on the side of caution.

7. Pruning and Maintenance

Pruning and regular maintenance play a vital role in keeping your Pig’s Ear succulent healthy, vibrant, and aesthetically pleasing. While these succulents are relatively low-maintenance, a bit of care and attention can go a long way in ensuring their long-term well-being. In this section, we’ll explore the importance of pruning, how to do it effectively, and other key maintenance tasks to keep your Pig’s Ear succulent thriving.

Pruning for Shape and Health:

Pruning your Pig’s Ear succulent serves two primary purposes: maintaining its shape and promoting overall plant health. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Trim Leggy or Overgrown Stems: Over time, your succulent may develop leggy or elongated stems. This can happen when it’s reaching for more light or due to irregular growth. To maintain a compact and bushy appearance, carefully trim these stems back using clean, sharp pruning shears. Make the cut just above a leaf node, as this encourages new growth.
  • Remove Dead or Yellowing Leaves: Periodically inspect your succulent for dead or yellowing leaves. These leaves not only detract from the plant’s appearance but can also create a haven for pests and diseases. Gently pluck these leaves from the plant to keep it looking its best.

Pest Inspection and Control:

Pig's Ear Succulent

Regularly inspecting your Pig’s Ear succulent for signs of pests is another essential aspect of maintenance. Two common culprits to watch out for are mealybugs and aphids. Here’s how to deal with them:

  • Detecting Pests: Look closely at your succulent’s leaves and stems for any signs of mealybugs or aphids. Mealybugs often appear as cottony masses, while aphids may be tiny, soft-bodied insects.
  • Gentle Removal: If you spot these pests, it’s crucial to address them promptly. A cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol is an effective and gentle way to remove them. Carefully dab the affected areas, and the pests should come off easily. Be thorough in your inspection, as these pests can hide in crevices.
  • Preventative Measures: To minimize the risk of pests, maintain a clean growing environment. Remove fallen leaves and debris from around your succulent, as these can attract pests. Additionally, avoid overwatering, as it can create conditions favorable to pests and fungal issues.

Shaping and Pruning for a Tree-Like Appearance:

One unique aspect of Pig’s Ear succulents is their potential to grow into a tree-like shape with proper care. If you desire this intriguing and attractive form, here’s what you can do:

  • Encourage Upright Growth: To achieve a tree-like shape, encourage your succulent to grow upright. Provide ample sunlight to promote upward growth, and occasionally rotate the plant to ensure even exposure to light.
  • Trim and Shape: As your succulent grows, selectively prune lower branches and stems to create a more tree-like appearance. Leave the top portion relatively unpruned to serve as the “canopy.”
  • Maintenance: Regularly maintain the shape by pruning and removing any horizontal growth. Monitor for pests and diseases, as this shape can sometimes lead to greater vulnerability to issues.

8. Repotting Your Pig’s Ear Succulent

Repotting is a crucial aspect of Pig’s Ear succulent care, ensuring that your plant continues to thrive as it grows. As these succulents expand and develop, they may outgrow their containers or become root-bound, making repotting necessary. In this section, we’ll guide you through the process of repotting your Pig’s Ear succulent, from choosing the right pot to transplanting it successfully.

When to Repot:

It’s essential to repot your Pig’s Ear succulent when you notice the following signs:

  • The roots have filled the current pot, becoming cramped and tightly wound.
  • The succulent has grown significantly larger, making it top-heavy or unstable in its current container.
  • The soil has become depleted of nutrients and no longer provides adequate support for the plant’s growth.

Repotting is typically best performed during the spring when the succulent is in its active growth phase. This allows the plant to recover and establish itself in its new container more effectively.

Step-by-Step Repotting Guide:

  • Choose a Slightly Larger Pot with Drainage Holes: Select a new pot that is only slightly larger than the current one. A pot that is 1-2 inches larger in diameter is usually sufficient. Ensure the new container has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging.
  • Gently Remove the Succulent from Its Current Pot: Begin the repotting process by carefully removing your Pig’s Ear succulent from its current container. To do this, gently tip the pot on its side and tap the sides to loosen the soil. With one hand supporting the plant’s base, gently slide the succulent out of the pot. Be cautious not to damage the roots or stems during this process.
  • Shake off Excess Soil and Inspect the Roots: Gently shake off excess soil from the roots to allow you to inspect their condition. Trim any dead or unhealthy roots with clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears. Healthy roots should appear firm and white.
  • Place it in the New Pot with Fresh Succulent Soil: Add a layer of fresh succulent soil mix to the bottom of the new pot. Position your Pig’s Ear succulent in the center of the pot, making sure it sits at the same depth as it did in the previous container. Fill the remaining space with the succulent soil mix, patting it down lightly to secure the plant.
  • Water Lightly After Repotting and Allow the Plant to Settle: Give your repotted succulent a gentle watering to settle the soil. However, avoid overwatering at this stage. Allow the plant to adjust to its new container for a few days before resuming your regular watering routine.

Pro Tip:

Repotting can be a bit stressful for succulents, so it’s essential to provide them with optimal conditions after the transplant. Ensure they receive adequate sunlight and avoid overwatering during the initial days following repotting.

9. Common Issues and Troubleshooting

  • While Pig’s Ear succulents are generally robust and adaptable, they can encounter challenges that affect their growth and appearance. Identifying and addressing these issues promptly is essential to ensure the continued health and beauty of your succulent. Here are some common problems you may encounter and effective solutions to tackle them:

1. Yellowing Leaves:

  • Issue: Yellowing leaves are often a sign of overwatering, a common mistake in succulent care.
  • Solution: Allow the soil to dry out completely before watering your succulent again. Ensure your succulent is planted in well-draining soil and that the pot has proper drainage holes to prevent waterlogged roots.

2. Drooping or Wilting:

  • Issue: Drooping or wilting stems and leaves are typically indicative of underwatering, which can cause the plant to become dehydrated.
  • Solution: Give your succulent a thorough watering, allowing the water to reach the root zone. Adjust your watering routine to ensure that you’re providing enough moisture without overdoing it. Remember to check the soil’s dryness before watering again.

3. Pest Infestations:

  • Issue: Mealybugs and aphids can infest Pig’s Ear succulents, damaging the leaves and overall health of the plant.
  • Solution: If you spot mealybugs or aphids on your succulent, address the issue promptly. You can manually remove them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or apply neem oil, a natural and effective pest control remedy. Regularly inspect your succulent to catch infestations early.

4. Leggy Growth:

  • Issue: Leggy growth occurs when your succulent stretches toward the light source, often indicating insufficient sunlight.
  • Solution: Move your succulent to a sunnier location where it can receive more direct sunlight. Providing adequate light will encourage compact, bushy growth rather than elongated stems.

5. Leaf Drop:

  • Issue: Occasional leaf drop is normal for Pig’s Ear succulents, especially during their adjustment period. However, excessive leaf drop may indicate stress or improper care.
  • Solution: Review your care routine, ensuring that you’re not overwatering or underwatering your succulent. Maintain proper lighting conditions, and inspect for pests or diseases that could be causing stress. Healthy care practices will help reduce leaf drop.

6. Discoloration or Fading Leaves:

  • Issue: Discoloration or fading of the leaves can occur due to various factors, including inadequate light, excessive heat, or nutrient deficiencies.
  • Solution: Assess the environmental conditions, ensuring that your succulent receives the right balance of sunlight and temperature. If necessary, adjust its placement to provide more suitable conditions. Consider fertilizing with a balanced, diluted succulent fertilizer during the growing season to address nutrient deficiencies.
Pig's Ear Succulent

10. Propagation of Pig’s Ear Succulents

Propagating Pig’s Ear succulents is a delightful and rewarding process that allows you to expand your collection or share these lovely plants with others. Whether you’re a seasoned succulent enthusiast or a beginner, propagating Pig’s Ear succulents can be a fun and educational experience. In this section, we’ll walk you through the steps to successfully propagate new Pig’s Ear succulents from cuttings or leaves.

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Healthy Pig’s Ear succulent plant
  • Pruning shears or sharp scissors
  • Small pots or containers with drainage holes
  • Succulent soil mix
  • Bright, indirect sunlight

Step-by-Step Propagation Guide:

  • Take a Healthy Leaf or Stem Cutting:
    • Begin by selecting a healthy leaf or stem to propagate. Look for a leaf or stem that is free from damage or disease. Using clean pruning shears or sharp scissors, snip the selected leaf or stem close to the main plant. For leaf propagation, choose a healthy, full-grown leaf, and for stem propagation, select a section of stem with a minimum length of about 4 inches.
  • Allow it to Callus for a Day or Two:
    • To prevent rot and promote successful rooting, allow the cut end of the leaf or stem to callus for a day or two. Place it in a dry, shaded area to let the cut surface harden.
  • Plant it in a Small Pot with Succulent Soil:
    • Fill a small pot or container with a well-draining succulent soil mix. Make a small hole in the soil with your finger or a stick. For leaf propagation, bury the cut end of the leaf slightly into the soil, keeping the top portion of the leaf exposed. For stem propagation, insert the cut end of the stem into the soil.
  • Water Lightly and Place it in Bright, Indirect Sunlight:
    • After planting, give the cutting or leaf a gentle watering to settle the soil around it. Be cautious not to overwater; succulents are sensitive to excessive moisture during the propagation phase. Place the pot in a location with bright, indirect sunlight, avoiding direct sun exposure, which can scorch the cutting or leaf.
  • Observe and Wait for New Growth:
    • Over the next few weeks to months, keep a close eye on the cutting or leaf. With patience and proper care, you’ll notice new growth emerging from the base of the leaf or stem. As the new Pig’s Ear succulent begins to sprout, continue to provide it with the appropriate care, including regular but light watering and suitable light conditions.

Pro Tip:

  • Be patient during the propagation process; it can take several weeks to see significant growth. Ensure that the cutting or leaf remains undisturbed during this time to allow the new roots and plantlet to establish themselves.
Pig's Ear Succulent

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a Pig’s Ear Succulent?

A Pig’s Ear succulent, scientifically known as Cotyledon orbiculata or Kalanchoe luciae, is a striking and hardy succulent plant characterized by its fleshy, paddle-shaped leaves with vibrant red or maroon margins. It is native to South Africa and is often grown as a houseplant or outdoor ornamental due to its unique appearance and ease of care.

How do I Choose the Right Location for My Pig’s Ear Succulent?

Selecting the perfect location is essential for the health and vitality of your Pig’s Ear succulent. These succulents thrive in bright, indirect sunlight. Whether you’re growing them indoors or outdoors, ensure they receive at least six hours of sunlight per day. When indoors, place them near a south or west-facing window for adequate light. Outdoors, choose a spot with partial shade to protect them from scorching sun rays. It’s crucial to avoid temperatures below 50°F (10°C), as Pig’s Ear succulents prefer warmth.

What Type of Soil is Best for Pig’s Ear Succulents?

Pig’s Ear succulents, like all succulents, require well-draining soil to prevent root rot. Opt for a cactus or succulent potting mix available commercially, or create your blend by adding sand or perlite to regular potting soil. This soil mix ensures that excess water doesn’t linger around the roots, promoting healthy growth. For container gardening, choose pots with drainage holes at the bottom to facilitate proper drainage.

How Should I Plant My Pig’s Ear Succulent?

Planting your Pig’s Ear succulent correctly sets the stage for its overall health and growth. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Select a pot or container with drainage holes.
  • Fill it with the well-draining succulent soil mix.
  • Gently remove your succulent from its nursery pot, taking care not to damage the roots.
  • Dig a hole in the soil that is slightly larger than the root ball.
  • Place the succulent in the hole and cover the roots with soil.
  • Water the plant lightly to settle the soil.

This planting process ensures your succulent is well-positioned for success.

How Do I Water My Pig’s Ear Succulent Effectively?

Proper watering is critical for Pig’s Ear succulents. Follow these guidelines:

  • Water thoroughly but allow the soil to dry out between watering sessions. Overwatering can lead to root rot.
  • Use the “finger test”: Stick your finger about an inch deep into the soil; if it feels dry, it’s time to water.
  • During the dormant winter months, reduce watering as the plant’s water requirements decrease.
  • Always use room temperature or lukewarm water to avoid shocking the plant.

Using a watering can with a narrow spout directs water directly to the soil and avoids wetting the leaves, reducing the risk of rot.

How Can I Maintain and Prune My Pig’s Ear Succulent?

Maintenance and pruning are essential for keeping your Pig’s Ear succulent healthy and visually appealing. Here’s what to do:

  • Trim leggy or overgrown stems to encourage bushier growth.
  • Remove any dead or yellowing leaves to prevent disease and pests.
  • Regularly inspect for pests like mealybugs or aphids and remove them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol if detected.

Additionally, you can shape your Pig’s Ear succulent into a small tree-like form by selectively pruning lower branches and stems while encouraging upright growth.

When Should I Repot My Pig’s Ear Succulent?

Repotting is necessary when your Pig’s Ear succulent outgrows its current pot or when the roots become cramped. Signs include the plant becoming too large for its container or the roots filling the pot. To repot:

  • Choose a slightly larger pot with drainage holes.
  • Gently remove the succulent from its current pot.
  • Shake off excess soil and inspect the roots.
  • Place it in the new pot with fresh succulent soil.
  • Water lightly after repotting and allow the plant to settle.

Spring, when the succulent is actively growing, is the ideal time for repotting.

What Are Common Issues I Might Face When Growing Pig’s Ear Succulents?

Common challenges when growing Pig’s Ear succulents include:

  • Yellowing leaves, which can signal overwatering. Allow the soil to dry out before watering again.
  • Drooping or wilting, often due to underwatering. Adjust your watering routine accordingly.
  • Pest infestations, such as mealybugs or aphids. Remove them manually or use neem oil for treatment.
  • Leggy growth, which occurs when the succulent needs more sunlight. Move it to a sunnier spot for compact growth.

By recognizing these issues and addressing them promptly, you can ensure the continued health and vibrancy of your Pig’s Ear succulent.

How Can I Propagate Pig’s Ear Succulents?

Propagating Pig’s Ear succulents is an enjoyable way to create new plants. You can propagate from cuttings or leaves:

  • Take a healthy leaf or stem cutting.
  • Allow it to callus for a day or two.
  • Plant it in a small pot with succulent soil.
  • Water lightly and place it in bright, indirect sunlight.

What Are the Key Tips for Successfully Propagating Pig’s Ear Succulents?

Successfully propagating Pig’s Ear succulents involves attention to detail and patience. Here are some additional tips to enhance your propagation efforts:

  • Choose Healthy Parent Plants: Start with healthy, disease-free parent plants when selecting leaves or stems for propagation. Healthy parent material increases the likelihood of successful propagation.
  • Proper Callusing: Allowing the cut end of your leaf or stem to callus is a crucial step. The callus acts as a barrier, protecting against potential rot during the early stages of propagation. Ensure the cut end has a dry, hardened surface before planting.
  • Use Well-Draining Soil: Utilize a well-draining succulent soil mix when planting your cuttings or leaves. This type of soil prevents waterlogged conditions that can lead to rot.
  • Avoid Overwatering: During the initial stages of propagation, water sparingly. Overwatering can cause the cutting or leaf to rot before it has a chance to root. Wait until you see signs of new growth before adjusting your watering routine.
  • Maintain Ideal Light Conditions: Place your propagating succulents in a location with bright, indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight can be too harsh for young, tender plants, potentially causing sunburn.
  • Be Patient: Propagation takes time. It may take several weeks or even months before you see significant growth and the emergence of a new Pig’s Ear succulent. Patience is key to successful propagation.

Can Pig’s Ear Succulents Be Grown Outdoors?

Yes, Pig’s Ear succulents can thrive outdoors, provided they receive the appropriate growing conditions. As mentioned earlier, they prefer bright, indirect sunlight and well-draining soil. When planting them in an outdoor garden, ensure the location has partial shade to protect them from intense sunlight. Additionally, be mindful of the temperature, as they are sensitive to frost and cold conditions. In regions with colder winters, it’s advisable to bring them indoors or provide frost protection during the colder months.

Is Fertilization Necessary for Pig’s Ear Succulents?

While Pig’s Ear succulents are not heavy feeders, occasional fertilization during the growing season (spring and summer) can promote healthier growth. Use a balanced, diluted liquid succulent fertilizer every 4-6 weeks to provide essential nutrients. However, reduce or cease fertilization during the dormant winter months when the plant’s growth slows down. Overfertilization can lead to excessive growth and may not be beneficial for the succulent’s overall health.

Can I Grow Pig’s Ear Succulents in Containers?

Absolutely! Pig’s Ear succulents are well-suited for container gardening. When planting them in containers, ensure that the pots have adequate drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging. Select pots that are only slightly larger than the root ball to avoid overpotting, which can lead to excess moisture retention. Container gardening allows you to control the growing environment more effectively and is ideal for both indoor and outdoor cultivation.

Is Pruning Necessary for Pig’s Ear Succulents?

Pruning Pig’s Ear succulents is not always necessary but can be beneficial for maintaining their shape and health. Trimming leggy or overgrown stems encourages bushier growth and a more compact appearance. Removing dead or yellowing leaves is essential to prevent disease and maintain aesthetics. Pruning can also be used to shape the succulent into a more tree-like form if desired. However, always handle your succulent with care during pruning to avoid damage to the plant.

What Are the Main Pests and Diseases to Watch Out for in Pig’s Ear Succulents?

The main pests that can affect Pig’s Ear succulents include mealybugs and aphids. These small insects can infest the leaves and stems, causing damage and stress to the plant. Regularly inspect your succulent for signs of infestation, such as cottony masses (mealybugs) or tiny, soft-bodied insects (aphids). Address pest issues promptly using manual removal with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or by applying neem oil, a natural pest control solution.

In terms of diseases, overwatering and poor drainage can lead to root rot, a common issue in succulents. To prevent this, follow proper watering practices, ensure well-draining soil, and provide adequate ventilation.

Can Pig’s Ear Succulents Be Grown from Seeds?

While it is possible to grow Pig’s Ear succulents from seeds, this method is less common and typically takes longer to yield mature plants. Growing from seeds requires patience and careful attention to environmental conditions. If you choose to propagate from seeds, sow them in well-draining soil and provide the same bright, indirect sunlight and temperature requirements as for mature plants. Keep in mind that it may take several years for seed-grown succulents to reach full maturity.

Are Pig’s Ear Succulents Toxic to Pets?

Pig’s Ear succulents, like many succulents, contain compounds that can be toxic to pets if ingested. These compounds can cause gastrointestinal upset, drooling, and other symptoms in cats and dogs. To ensure the safety of your pets, it’s advisable to keep Pig’s Ear succulents out of their reach and to monitor them if they have access to areas where these plants are grown. If you suspect your pet has ingested any part of the succulent, consult with a veterinarian promptly.

How Can I Protect My Pig’s Ear Succulent from Extreme Temperatures?

Pig’s Ear succulents are sensitive to extreme temperatures, particularly frost and cold conditions. To protect your succulent from temperature extremes:

  • During winter, if you’re growing it outdoors in a region prone to frost, consider bringing it indoors to a warmer environment or providing frost protection.
  • If you’re keeping it indoors, ensure it’s not placed near drafty windows or heating vents, as extreme temperature fluctuations can stress the plant.
  • For outdoor cultivation in hot climates, provide some afternoon shade during scorching summers to shield the succulent from intense heat.

Should I Rotate My Pig’s Ear Succulent?

Rotating your Pig’s Ear succulent periodically can help ensure even growth and prevent the plant from leaning or reaching toward the light source. Succulents tend to grow toward the light, so rotating them every few weeks will promote more balanced development and maintain the plant’s aesthetic appeal.

Can I Use Pig’s Ear Succulents in Landscaping?

Yes, Pig’s Ear succulents can be a valuable addition to landscaping projects, especially in regions with a mild climate. Their unique appearance and drought tolerance make them suitable for xeriscaping and succulent gardens. They can be used as ground cover, in rock gardens, or as attractive border plants. Ensure they are planted in well-draining soil and positioned where they receive the right amount of sunlight for successful outdoor landscaping.

Are Pig’s Ear Succulents Prone to Diseases?

Pig’s Ear succulents are relatively resistant to diseases, especially when grown in well-draining soil and provided with proper care. However, overwatering and waterlogged soil can lead to root rot, a fungal disease that affects succulents. To prevent this, ensure that the soil dries out between watering sessions and maintain good air circulation around the plant. Additionally, inspect your succulent regularly for signs of pests, as they can indirectly lead to diseases if left unaddressed.

Can Pig’s Ear Succulents Be Grown Indoors All Year Round?

Yes, Pig’s Ear succulents can be grown indoors year-round, provided they receive the necessary light and care. When cultivating them indoors:

  • Choose a location with bright, indirect sunlight, such as near a south or west-facing window.
  • Maintain a consistent indoor temperature, avoiding extremes of heat or cold.
  • Use well-draining succulent soil in pots with drainage holes.
  • Follow proper watering and maintenance practices, as outlined in this guide.

With the right conditions, Pig’s Ear succulents can thrive as indoor houseplants, adding a touch of natural beauty to your interior spaces.

Are There Varieties of Pig’s Ear Succulents?

Yes, there are several varieties and cultivars of Pig’s Ear succulents, each with its unique characteristics. Some popular varieties include:

  • Cotyledon orbiculata ‘Flavida’: Known for its green leaves with yellow edges.
  • Cotyledon orbiculata ‘Macrantha’: Features larger, more elongated leaves with striking red margins.
  • Kalanchoe luciae ‘Fantastic’: Noted for its green leaves with vivid red to purple margins and spots.
  • Kalanchoe luciae ‘Flapjacks’: Recognizable by its flat, paddle-shaped leaves with a bluish-gray tint.

These varieties offer a range of colors and leaf shapes, allowing you to choose the one that appeals to your aesthetic preferences.

Can I Grow Pig’s Ear Succulents Alongside Other Succulent Varieties?

Pig’s Ear succulents can coexist harmoniously with other succulent varieties in your garden or indoor collection, provided their care requirements are similar. When selecting companion succulents, consider factors such as sunlight, watering needs, and temperature preferences. Grouping succulents with similar care requirements makes it easier to provide them with the appropriate care and maintain a cohesive aesthetic in your succulent garden or arrangement.

How Can I Ensure My Pig’s Ear Succulent Thrives for Years to Come?

To ensure the long-term health and vitality of your Pig’s Ear succulent:

  • Follow the care guidelines provided in this FAQ and throughout this article.
  • Continually monitor your succulent for signs of pests, diseases, or other issues.
  • Adjust care routines based on seasonal changes in sunlight, temperature, and watering needs.
  • Regularly repot as needed to prevent root congestion.
  • Share your knowledge and passion for succulents with fellow enthusiasts to exchange tips and experiences.


Caring for Pig’s Ear succulents can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. With the right combination of sunlight, well-draining soil, and watering practices, you’ll watch these beautiful succulents thrive and bring a touch of nature’s charm to your space. Remember, patience is key, and your dedication will be rewarded with the lush, vibrant foliage of your Pig’s Ear succulent. Happy gardening!