2021 | How to Grow and Care for Cotyledon pendens Plants

S Molteno, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Cotyledon pendens plants are small succulent plants, native to South Africa, known for their beautiful appearance. This plant is also known as Cliff Cotyledon plants and can grow up to 2 feet. Their branches bow down due to the weight of leaves and flowers on them and create an appearance of a cascade.  Their branches spread all around the base or main stem. Each branch is covered with a mesh of dark green thick leaves. These leaves are fleshy because they are used for the storage of water during drought conditions. This is how these plants survive the harsh summer in South African desert areas. These beautiful plants are used as indoor ornamental plants.

The Cliff Cotyledon plants are a good choice as indoor succulent plants because they are easy to grow and care for, and they are also very beautiful. The Cliff Cotyledon plants have pointy thick leaves that cover most of the branches and main stem. The main stem or base in the Cliff Cotyledon plants extends into multiple smaller shrublets. These shrublets are the offsets of the mother plant.

These offsets are used for the propagation of Cliff Cotyledon plants. The Cliff Cotyledon plants are flowering succulent plants which means they produce flowers during the blooming season. Their flowers have multiple colors that vary depending upon the variety that you choose. Most of these varieties have orange to red flowers. The shape of the flowers is usually bell-like. Below is a complete guide about the Cliff Cotyledon plants, and how to grow and care for them.

Overview

Common NameCliff Cotyledon
Scientific NameCotyledon pendens (has multiple varieties)
Genus, FamilyCotyledon genus Crassulaceae family.
Size, TypeCan grow up to 2 feet. Flowering Succulent plant.
Color of stem, leaves, and flowersGreen Stem. Green Leaves. Orange to Red Flowers, depending on the variety.
Flowering SeasonMidsummer.
Perennial/Annual.Perennial
HardinessUSDA hardiness zone 10 to 11
Temperature range30 °F to 50 °F or -1 to 10 °C.
SunlightFull sun to partial shade.
Growth RateSlow

Lineage

The Cliff Cotyledon plants belong to the Cotyledon genus. It is a genus of flowering succulent plants from the Crassulaceae family. The Cliff Cotyledon plants are known for their beautiful foliage that falls out of the pot like a cascade. The Cliff Cotyledon plants grow in desert areas, and they have developed different strategies to cope with water shortages and drought conditions. They were brought to Europe and other parts of the world from South Africa. These plants were able to grow and survive in most warm parts of the world.

Appearance

The Cliff Cotyledon plants can grow up to two feet large. They do not grow upwards. Instead, first, they spread in their pots. After they reach the end of the pot, they start to move below. This creates a beautiful hanging plant appearance. These plants are used as hanging or cascading succulent plants for indoor decoration. The Cliff Cotyledon plant has a main stem, which is heavily branched. These branches are covered with thick and fleshy leaves.

Leaves of the Cliff Cotyledon plants are arranged in opposite formations. They have elliptical to ovoid-shaped leaves. These leaves are thick because they are used for water storage purposes. The size of each leaf can be half an inch. They have pointy ends and are green-colored. Their leaves also have a pinkish color on their edges. The Cliff Cotyledon plants also produce flowers of small size. These flowers usually grow on the tips of branches that are hanging from the pot.

Flowering

The flowering of Cliff Cotyledon plants starts in midsummer, and they produce multiple sets of flowers. Initially, these flowers grow as small buds on the edges. These buds then change into tubular flowers of a bell shape. These flowers have orange to red color shades depending on the amount of light they receive. The flowers of Cliff Cotyledon plants have a pleasant smell. These bell-shaped flowers have their faces down. They attract a lot of bees and other insects that help them pollinate and create seeds for the next generation.

Natural Habitat

The natural habitat of the Cliff Cotyledon plants is in South Africa. In South Africa, they grow closer to the Bashe river near Eastern Cape. They grow closer to the riverside, where they have limited access to water. The Cliff Cotyledon plants are capable of surviving outside this area as well if they are provided with optimal conditions. They can also be grown in indoor environments as well.

Facts

Below are some basic facts about the Cliff Cotyledon plants.

  • The Cliff Cotyledon plant’s scientific name is Cotyledon pendens.
  • Cliff Cotyledon is native to the Eastern Cape area near the Bashe river in South Africa.
  • These are cascading/hanging succulent plants, grown worldwide as ornamental plants.
  • Cliff Cotyledon plants grow small bell-shaped orange to red flowers.
  • Edges of its leaves have a pink color.

Requirements to Grow Cliff Cotyledon

SoilNutrient-rich, well-draining, neutral to slightly acidic.
SunFull sun to partial shade depending on the season.
WaterWater once every 10 days in summer, and once every 20 days in winter.
FertilizerFertilize once every 30 to 40 days.

Soil Requirements

The Cliff Cotyledon plant needs soil that does not trap water in it for a long time. They need the soil to quickly drain the excessive water. Because excessive water that will be trapped in the soil will keep their roots wet all the time. This is bad for their roots, as they need to remain partially dry. Otherwise, root rotting will destroy the roots of your plant. To protect your plant, you should plant it in soil that is well-draining and does not trap water in it for the long term. Apart from this, your soil should also contain all the basic nutrients for the plant’s growth. If your soil does not contain elements required for the growth. The Cliff Cotyledon plants would grow very slow and might die soon.

To create such soil in a pot, you should mix a balanced amount of sand with soil. This will make the soil well-draining. After that, you should lay a layer of pumice and perlite in the pot and put all your soil above it. You should add mulch and compost to make your soil nutrient-rich. You can also add fertilizer to the soil as well. This would help boost the growth of your plant from the initial stages. After creating the right mixture, you should pour it into the pot above the layer of pumice and perlite. Pumice and perlite would help stop the wastage of soil and will only allow the water to escape.

Sunlight Requirements

The Cliff Cotyledon plant needs full sun to partial sunlight exposure to grow properly and thrive. They need full sunlight during most of the year but need protection from the sunlight during hot days of midsummer. High temperature during the summer, combined with full sunlight exposure can cause the plant’s leaves to lose water. This can lead to the wilting of flowers and also leaves as well. To avoid this, you should increase the amount of water and place your plants in partial shade during the summer season. If you have kept your plant indoors or in shade, you should not expose it to the sunlight of summer. This can harm the leaves of your plant and also its flowers. But if your plant was grown in an outdoor environment, it would not be impacted by the full sunlight exposure.

Temperature Requirements

The Cliff Cotyledon plant needs moderately warm temperatures to grow and thrive. If the temperatures are extremely low, or extremely high, it would not reach its potential growth rate. If you are growing it outside its natural habitat area, you should make sure to maintain the temperature in a moderate range. The Cliff Cotyledon plant needs the temperature to remain between 30 °F to 50 °For -1 to 10 °C. If the temperature falls below this during the winter, then you should keep your plant indoors and protect it from the harsh cold weather and snow. Also, if the temperature in your area is higher than this, you should keep your plant indoors to protect it from extreme heat. According to the USDA hardiness zones, they grow very well in zone 10 and 11.

Water Requirements

The Cliff Cotyledon plant does not need a very frequent water supply as it can store water in its leaves. Also, it does not like its roots to remain wet for the long term as it can create problems such as root rotting. So, you should provide them water once the soil in their pots starts to dry. You should check the soil for dryness and after that, decide about watering. If the soil is moist, you should not water your plants. But if the soil has become dry, you should provide water to your Cliff Cotyledon plant. You can provide them water once every 8 to 10 days during the summer. But in the winter and cold regions, watering once every 15 to 20 days would be enough.

Fertilizers Requirements

The Cliff Cotyledon plant needs nutrients from the soil to grow. But the soil only has a limited supply of nutrients in it that are quickly depleted after planting the Cliff Cotyledon plant. Once these reserves are depleted, you will need to feed your plant fertilizers to provide nutrients. Otherwise, its growth would slow down and can also stop in severe cases. You should check the soil for nutrients deficiency and find the best succulent plant fertilizer for your plant. You should feed this fertilizer to your plant through water, or by direct mixing of fertilizer with the soil.

Repotting

The Cliff Cotyledon plant needs replantation or repotting once every year. As you know they grow a lot of branches above the soil, they also grow a large network of roots in the potting soil. As time passes, these roots need more space to grow. Once this happens, you will need to replant or repot your plant. Repotting requires creating a mixture of balanced soil, putting it in a bigger pot. After that, you should uproot the plant from its pot, and transfer it to the new pot. After you are done repotting, water your Cliff Cotyledon plant and leave it in the shade for a few days. Its roots will take some to adjust to the new soil, and after that, it will grow even faster. You should report your Cliff Cotyledon plants in the spring season.

Pruning

The Cliff Cotyledon plant grows a lot of branches, leaves, offsets, and flowers. These need to be trimmed properly to control the spread of your plant and give it a proper shape. Pruning of the Cliff Cotyledon plant should be done during the spring season. You can take a sharp cutter and cut all the extra parts, leaves, offsets, branches, and dead parts of the plant as well.

Problems

The Cliff Cotyledon plant may be attacked by a few plant pathogens including mealybugs, spider mites, and root rotting. If you see any signs of attack on your plant, try washing it with detergent water. This would help you control the spread at an initial level, but if this does not help, you should use pesticides and fungicides on your plants to get rid of the infestation.

Propagation

There are two methods to grow and propagate the Cliff Cotyledon plants. You can either grow them with the help of their seeds, or you can grow them with help of their offsets. These plants grow a lot of offsets that you can separate and plant into a new pot. Or you can sow the seeds and wait for them to sprout. Growing through the offsets is more common.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Why are the leaves of my Cotyledon pendens plant falling off?

The leaves of Cotyledon pendens might die and fall off if your plant is kept in very low light. The Cotyledon pendens plant needs full sun to partial shade environment and can be grown indoors as well if they receive sufficient amount of sunlight. Keep your plant in a bright place and its leaves will not fall off.

Question: What is the common name of the Cotyledon pendens plant?

The common name of the Cotyledon pendens plant is Cliff Cotyledon.

Question: How long does the dormancy of Cotyledon pendens lasts?

In very hot areas, where temperatures can cross 25 degrees centigrade, the Cotyledon pendens go dormant during the summer. This dormancy can last up to three months. They go dormant to save water and other resources.