How to Grow Cotyledon

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Cotyledon are perennial succulents grown for their foliage and flowers. The stalked, fleshy leaves are usually puffy and rounded and sometimes wavy-edged. The flowers are tubular to bell-shaped, usually pendant, red, yellow, or orange.

Cotyledon species grow from 12 to 36 inches (30 to 91 cm) tall. A mature plant can produce a cluster of 10 to 20 long-lasting flowers on a tall stalk in summer.

Cotyledon should be grown in full, bright light with shade from the hot sun.

Cotyledon is a genus of about 45 species; many are native to South Africa.

 Get to know Cotyledon

  • Plant type: Succulent in Crassula Family
  • Hardiness temperature: 50℉ (10℃)
  • Optimal growing temperature: day, 68° to 72°F (20° to 22°C); cooler at night. 
  • Shape and size: Thick leaves and grow in clusters; the lower part is usually firm and tree-shaped
  • Flowers: Bell-shaped flowers on long stem are usually orange to red
  • Bloom time: Summer
  • Common name: Cotyledon, bear’s toes, silver crown 
  • Genus name: Cotyledon
  • Family name: Crassulaceae
  • Origin: South Africa
Flowers of Cotyledon orbiculata
Flowers of Cotyledon orbiculata

Planting Cotyledon

  • Grow Cotyledon in a sunny location, but protected from the full sun.
  • Indoors grow Cotyledon in bright, filtered light from southern, southeastern, or eastern exposure. Fresh air circulation is important. 
  • Grow Cotyledon in a warm location where temperatures are never below 50℉ (10℃).
  • Planty Cotyledon in sandy, loarmy soil.

How to water and feed Cotyledon

  • Give Cotyledon moderate soil moisture. t soil dry moderately between thorough waterings. Keep Cotyledon as dry as possible duirng the winter rest period.
  • Avoid wetting Cotyledon leaves. Do not mist Cotyledon.
  • Cotyledon prefers humidity of 30% to 35%. 
  • Feed Cotyledon once a year, in spring, with low-nitrogen, high-potassium fertilizer. 

Cotyledon care

  • Repot overcrowded Cotyledon in spring. Remove dried foliage and flowers. 
  • Check for mealybugs, spider mites. Moisture on leaves causes rot. 
  • Cotyledon should rest from fall to early spring. Place Cotyledon in a cool, bright location. Give the plant just enough water to keep the soil from drying out. 
  • Cotyledon species covered in hair are vulnerable to summer heat.
  • Propagate by seed or root stem cuttings in spring or summer.

Cotyledon species to grow

  • Cotyledon ladysmithiensi. Puffy, round leaves; surface covered in white powder; margin can be red; two-foot stalks bear tunulat-shaped, reddish yellow blooms.
  • C. orbiculata Gray-green, spoon-shaped leaves covered with a white powder and edged faintly in red. 
  • C. undulata (silver crown). Wavy, fluted silvery-white leaves in fanlike arrangement with ruffle top edges; penden yellow orange flowers.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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