Bear paw propagation


I have a bear paw succulent that has shed all its leaves in the last couple weeks. When I first got it, it shed a couple, which I attributed to the relocation. However, I’m not sure why the rest have fallen. Best guess is a lack of sun (it’s right by a window so it gets light but no direct sun). It was watered over five weeks apart, after fully drying out.

Can these leaves be propagated, and if so could you please advise on how (is it the regular lay on soil)? There seems to be little online for this plant.

Thank you!


Thank you for sending a picture with your question, as this is indeed a Bear’s Paw succulent, also legible on your nursery tag by the botanical name “Cotyledon tomentosa”. While your question is whether the fallen leaves can be propagated, and the brief answer is yes,  if you wish new plants to thrive, you’ll also likely want to know what happened to this parent plant.

Most succulents, in their natural habitats, are designed to withstand dry conditions, and well-drained soil is essential, with a balance of full sun, and indirect light. So your light conditions are likely good.

However, it appears as though your plant’s soil  has been put directly into the pot, that is, not in a smaller container that sits in the square pot, to allow for drainage. Is there is a drainage hole in the bottom of the square pot? If not, this could be the culprit: with the possibility there is no drainage at all, any water, even after 5 weeks, would collect in the bottom, and over time drown the plant’s roots. Your instincts are good, to water infrequently, but, seriously, with potted succulents, back away from the watering can. This can be hard to do: after all, one of the joys of being a gardener is the satisfaction of nurturing!

Next: the soil appears to be dark, and not sandy, and white Pearlite sits at the top. This is a product designed to absorb water, but is sometimes added to succulent mixes to improve aeration. Also, the pot appears to be either plastic, or glazed ceramic, which promotes water retention. In the likelihood that the leaves have dropped due to drowned roots, you might attempt to save the remaining stalk by re-potting. Consider a porous terracotta pot, that will breath, or, alternatively, re-pot first into a plastic pot which will sit inside a larger pot, or on your larger saucer, so that you can have visual assurance that any water you apply is draining out. Also re-pot into a gravelly, sandy, cactus medium. You might enjoy researching whether you wish to mix your own, or use a pre-mixed product. These amendments to your plant’s living conditions should hopefully reap some good results.

Back to your question regarding growing from leaves, please read here a detailed Toronto Master Gardeners post  regarding propagating Succulents.