Pig’s Ears – ideal for a rockery

Pig's Ears

Firstly, I would like to mention that, in my opinion, the leaves of this succulent do not actually resemble the ears of a pig. Nevertheless, the common name for Cotyledon orbiculata is Pig’s Ears. The Afrikaans name is Plakkie.

What do Pig’s Ears look like?

This winter flowering succulent is one of my favourites, although I must admit that I have a particular interest in succulents. The leaves are thick and fairly round and are, most often, edged in red. Some plants have grey foliage while others are green. I have never seen one, but I believe that some plants have leaves that are almost white. The orange-red flowers are borne on a sturdy, long stalk and hang down from the top of the inflorescence which gives it a flat-topped shape. Sometimes you may find one that has yellow flowers. They flower over an extended period somewhere between March and December.

Where should I plant them?

Pig’s Ears can be found growing, in suitable conditions, virtually anywhere in South Africa. There are a couple of subspecies of this plant which are found in different areas of the country. In its natural environment it is normally found on rocky outcrops in a variety of habitats. This makes it an ideal plant for a rockery. They are hardy plants that don’t need a lot of water, but they do require the garden, or container, to have good drainage. They prefer to be planted in a sunny position but can also be grown in a spot with semi-shade. Pig’s Ears can tolerate some frost.

Traditionally the leaves are used to cure corns and warts. The leaves are applied as a dressing, and it is said to be an effective treatment for these ailments. Take note that the Pig’s Ears plant are toxic to livestock.

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