A bear’s paw succulent should normally not lose many leaves and that happening is often a sign of a bigger.
Among the most common causes of falling leaves in bear’s paws are exposure to too much sunlight, overwatering, poor soil, and pests:
Overexposure to sunlight
Bear’s paw succulents thrive when they get six hours of sunlight. However, you should avoid placing it in an area where it is directly exposed to the sun for over six hours. Instead, place it in an area with partial shade, if possible. Otherwise, it can get sun burnt, which in turn, can lead to falling leaves.
If you wish to keep this succulent indoors, place it near a window where it will receive ample sunlight. If you have a greenhouse, be mindful that it offers little protection against the sun’s ultraviolet rays. To prevent damage brought about by overexposure to UV rays, you will need to use a cloth to filter sunlight.
Like other succulents, the bear’s paw does not tolerate overwatering. Ideally, you should water your bear’s paw just about once a week. At the onset of winter, reduce the number of times you water this plant.
Overwatering almost always comes hand in hand with the selection of the wrong type of soil, especially in succulents.
Bear’s paw succulents require fast-draining soil. As such, avoid common garden soil which can become too compact. Instead of using garden soil, use a soil mix with the right balance of organic and inorganic materials.
Mealybugs, caterpillars, and snails are among the most common pests that can infest a bear’s paw succulent. Mealybugs often jump off from another infested plant to bear’s paw succulents. Typically, these insects attack the succulent’s roots. To deal with this problem, soak a cotton ball in alcohol and apply this directly to the insects. Alternatively, you can spray diluted alcohol on the mealybugs.
To see whether the roots have been infested or not, you need to remove the plant from its container. If the roots are indeed infested, remove the soil and wash the plant thoroughly. You can also spray diluted alcohol to eliminate the remaining mealybugs.
After that, allow the plant to dry completely before placing it in a new pot with fresh soil. Do not use soil that you originally used for the infected plant. Instead, discard it as it is already infected.
Caterpillars and snails can infest a bear’s paw, but this is rare. These pests will often target other plants but will not pass up on the chance of a free meal if your bear’s paw is nearby.
Basic bear’s paw care
Bear’s paw is one of the more popular succulents among collectors. However, because it comes with a set of issues, newbies will fare better choosing other succulents.
If you are keen on adding this plant to your collection, there are a few things that you can do to make sure it remains healthy.
First, make sure that you plant it in fast-draining soil, preferably in a container with drainage holes. This will help keep both overwatering and fungal infections at bay.
And speaking of overwatering, be mindful of how often your water this succulent. As much as possible, water your bear’s paw just once a week. It can do with less frequent watering during the cooler seasons. Stop watering the plant when you see that the water has seeped to the pot’s bottom.
Experts recommend repotting the plant annually. Be sure to check the roots for infestations when you repot your bear’s paw. When repotting your plant, add some new potting mix.
Bear’s paw enters its growing season during the spring and fall. This is the best time to apply fertilizers. Fertilize the plant about once a month. Stop applying fertilizer during winter and summer when the plant hibernates.
If you can afford it, buy or make a greenhouse for your bear’s paw. Alternatively, you can place it in a location with indirect sunlight, away from the rains.
Handle with care
Often described as “cute” and “stunning,” the bear’s paw succulent is much-sought-after by collectors, both old and new. However, it needs special care to thrive. Follow the tips mentioned above to prevent problems like falling leaves.
Image: istockphoto.com / liuyushan