How to Grow Cotyledon Orbiculata

by Reannan Raine

Pigs ears (Cotyledon orbiculata) is a succulent plant that grows quickly to a height of 3 to 4 feet with bright green to silvery-white fleshy leaves. They produce clusters of bright orange flowers suspended on stems high above the leaves in the summer or fall. In U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 to 12, they are planted outdoors in the landscape. Where temperatures drop below 30 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, they are grown as houseplants or outdoors in containers that are brought indoors in the fall.

1. Outdoor Pigs Ears

1 Give the pigs ears 2 to 3 gallons of water every one to two weeks, depending on how quickly the soil dries. Allow the soil to become very dry before watering. Water them in the morning before daytime temperatures begin to rise.

2. Outdoor Pigs Ears

2 Fertilize the pigs ears only once per year in the spring. Mix 1 tablespoon of water-soluble 10-10-10 outdoor plant fertilizer into 1 gallon of water. Pour the diluted fertilizer on the soil right after watering the plant. Do not splash the fertilizer on the succulent leaves.

3. Outdoor Pigs Ears

3 Cut the flower stems off at the base with sharp scissors or pruners after the flowers fade. Water the pigs ears only if the leaves begin to wrinkle in the winter when temperatures drop down to 50 F.

4. Indoor Pigs Ears

1 Set the pigs ears in an east-, west- or south-facing window, where it will be exposed to at least a few hours of direct sunlight each day. Place the plant in partial shade if it is set outdoors for the summer.

5. Indoor Pigs Ears

2 Water the pigs ears when the potting mix dries out. Pour water over the soil until it drains from the bottom of the container.

6. Indoor Pigs Ears

3 Fertilize container-grown pigs ears once per year in the spring. Mix one-half teaspoon of 20-20-20 water-soluble houseplant fertilizer into 1 gallon of water. Pour the diluted fertilizer over the potting mix until it drains from the bottom of the container. Always water the pigs ears before giving it fertilizer.

7. Indoor Pigs Ears

4 Remove the flower stem after the flower fades. Re-pot the pigs ears in a new container that is no more than 1 inch wider in the spring, but only after it becomes very pot bound and so top heavy that it tips over easily. Pour 1 to 2 inches of fast-draining potting mix into the bottom of the container. Use a mixture that contains one-fourth sphagnum peat moss, one-fourth potting soil and one-half course sand or perlite. Turn the container on its side and gently slide the pigs ears out. Set it in the new container and fill the container to about 1 inch from the top with the fast-draining potting mix. Pour water over the soil until it drains from the bottom of the container.

Items you will need

  • Outdoor plant fertilizer
  • Sharp scissors (optional)
  • Pruners (optional)
  • Houseplant fertilizer
  • Container with drain hole
  • Sphagnum peat moss
  • Potting soil
  • Course sand (optional)
  • Perlite (optional)

About the Author

Reannan Raine worked for 30 years in the non-profit sector in various positions. She recently became a licensed insurance agent but has decided to pursue a writing career instead. Ms. Raine is hoping to have her first novel published soon.