By: Amy Grant
Faucaria tigrina succulent plants are native to South Africa. Also referred to as the Tiger Jaws succulent, they can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures than most other succulents which makes them perfect for growers in temperate climates. Intrigued and want to learn how to grow Tiger Jaws? The following Tiger Jaws plant info will teach you how to grow and care for Tiger Jaws.
Tiger Jaws Plant Info
Tiger Jaws succulents, also known as Shark’s Jaws, are Mesembryanthemums, or Mesembs, and belong to the family Aizoaceae. Mesembs are species that resemble stones or pebbles, although Tiger Jaws succulents look more like small fanged animal jaws.
This succulent grows in clumps of stemless, star-shaped rosettes amongst rocks in its native habit. The succulent is a low growing perennial that only reaches about 6 inches (15 cm.) in height. It has triangular shaped, light green, fleshy leaves that are about 2 inches (5 cm.) in length. Surrounding each leaf are ten soft, white, upright, tooth-like serrations that look like a tiger or shark’s mouth.
The plant blooms for a few months in the fall or early winter. Flowers range from bright yellow to white or pink and open midday then close again in the late afternoon. The sun dictates whether they will be open or closed. Faucaria succulent plants will not bloom at all if they don’t get at least three to four hours of sun and are a few years old.
How to Grow a Tiger Jaws
Like all succulents, Tiger Jaws is a sun lover. In their native region they occur in areas of rainfall, however, so they do like a bit of water. You can grow Tiger Jaws outdoors in USDA zones 9a to 11b. Otherwise, the plant can be easily grown in containers which can be brought inside during cooler weather.
Plant Tiger Jaws in well-draining soil, such as cactus potting soil, or make your own using non-peat based compost, one part course sand, and two parts soil.
Situate the succulent in an area with at least three to four hours of sun and in temperatures from 70 to 90 degrees F. (21-32 C.). While Tiger Jaws can tolerate cooler temps than these, they do not do well when temperatures fall below 50 degrees F. (10 C.).
Tiger Jaws Care
When temperatures are extremely high, this succulent will tolerate the heat but does stop growing and does need to be watered. Water when the soil is dry to the touch. Cut back on watering in the winter; water about half as much as usual.
From spring through the end of summer, fertilize the succulent with a diluted liquid plant food.
Repot every two years or so. Propagate more Tiger Jaw plants by removing a rosette, allowing it to callous for a day and then replanting it in the same manner as above. Keep the cutting in the shade in barely moist soil medium until it has had time to adapt and acclimate.
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The Tiger jaws succulent is native to the Eastern Cape province in South Africa. This hot, desert-like climate is often rocky, and these succulents will often be found growing under the rocks.
This succulent is a slow grower. Also known as Shark’s jaws, it gets its name from the little tooth-like protrusions along the edges of the leaves. They look hard and sharp, but are actually soft and pliable.
Because it is a slow-growing plant, it is usually best to buy the Tiger jaws succulent as a healthy, established plant from a nursery.
The main growing period of the Tiger jaws succulent is during spring and summer, while it is dormant through most of the winter.
Tiger Jaws Succulent Appearance
The Tiger jaws succulent has leaves that are triangular in shape and are about 2 inches in length. They are soft and thick, with little spiked protuberances that look like teeth.
These spikes help with drainage, directing the water to the bottom of the leaf and down the stem, towards the root of the plant. The leaves form rosettes, which grow very close together in thick clumps.
The plants themselves are fairly low, growing to a height of not more than 6 inches.
The Tiger jaws succulent flowers towards the end of summer and into fall, with small bright yellow flowers that are about 2 inches in diameter.
Caring for the Tiger Jaws Succulent
The Tiger jaws succulent is similar to many other succulents when it comes to care. It is easy to care for and does not need a lot of attention to maintain it. As long as its basic needs of light and water are taken care of, it can live for many years without any problems.
The Tiger jaws succulent is a sun lover. It needs at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. While this plant is very popular as an indoor plant, it is generally recommended to take it outside for a few hours every day, especially in summer, to give it the necessary exposure to natural sunlight.
The Tiger jaws succulent is unlikely to bloom if it is only kept indoors and is never taken outside. It needs outdoor light to encourage the flowers to emerge.
When positioning the Tiger jaws succulent indoors, they should be placed in a room that is south-facing and gets a lot of direct, natural sunlight. This will encourage healthy growth in the plant.
The Tiger jaws succulent does not need much water. These plants are used to a sub-tropical natural environment, where they do not have much rainfall.
It is essential that your Tiger jaws succulent be planted in a container with good drainage holes at the bottom, to allow excess water to run off freely.
The recommended method of watering is to soak the plant and soil completely, and then allow it to dry out fully before watering again. In this way, you will avoid the roots sitting in soil that is permanently damp, which can cause them to rot.
In order to test if the soil has dried out fully, you can insert a wooden skewer or kebab stick deep into the soil. It should be completely dry when removed. You can also put your finger into the soil as far as it will go. If the soil is dry to the touch, it is time to water again.
Another effective method of watering is to stand the plant in a dish of water for a few hours. In this way the soil and the roots will suck up the required water through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. But the pot should not be left standing in water for extended periods. This will result in overwatering.
The Tiger jaws succulent is somewhat more hardy than many other succulents, and will survive the occasional bout of light frost. However, it should not be planted in outdoor beds if you live in a zone that frequently experiences very cold temperatures.
It is preferable to plant these succulents in containers. In this way, if the temperature plummets below 20° Fahrenheit, the plant can be brought indoors.
If heavy frost is expected, it is advisable to cover the plants lightly, in order to protect them from frostbite damage. Alternatively, they can be brought indoors overnight.
If your Tiger jaws succulent is an indoor plant, it will be happiest in a warm room with a constant temperature. It does not do well if it is exposed to sudden wide fluctuations in temperature.
The most important consideration when you are preparing the soil for your Tiger jaws succulent is the drainage. If you are planting in containers, it is important for the containers to have adequate drainage holes at the bottom.
The soil should not be overly thick. This will cause it to retain moisture. It should be sufficiently porous and aerated to allow excess water to drain off. The best soil to use is a good quality cactus potting soil, combined with an equal part of mineral grit.
The mineral grit can be made up of coarse sand, perlite, or pumice, or a combination of all 3 of these elements. When blended with the cactus potting soil, they will allow for adequate drainage.
Propagating the Tiger Jaws Succulent
While the Tiger jaws succulent can be propagated from seed, this method is not recommended. Because it is a very slow-growing succulent, it may take a very long time for seeds to germinate and grow sufficiently to become a viable plant.
The best method for propagating the Tiger jaws succulent is by offsets. The plant often self propagates by producing offsets that are easy to separate.
To propagate with offsets, carefully remove the offset from the main plant. If it comes out with roots intact, it can be replanted straight away in a pot with prepared soil.
If the roots of the offset are not visible when you remove it, it should be left for a few days until the base of the offset has been calloused over. It can then be planted in a pot of soil.
Water every few days at first, and once the plant is growing nicely and doing well, gradually cut down the watering frequency, according to the above recommendations.
Common Problems and Pests
The two most common problems that are likely to affect your Tiger jaws are overwatering, and bug infestation.
Many people have a tendency to water their succulents too often. If this happens, the soil does not have sufficient time to dry out between watering days. If the roots are left in soil that is permanently damp, they will rot and the plant will die.
Like many other succulents, the Tiger jaws succulent is prone to infestation by mealybugs. These are tiny little insects that are difficult to see. The clue to their presence is a white film that coats the leaves, and looks like fine, web-like filaments.
The insects themselves usually hide on the underside of the leaves. If you inspect the plant carefully, you will see tiny little spots on the base of the leaves, at the point where they meet the stem.
While many people don’t like the idea of using chemical preparations, the most effective way of dealing with mealybug infestation is to treat with a commercial pesticide. These are available from any nursery or garden center.
About Tarah Schwartz
Tarah Schwartz is a freelance writer living in Scottsdale, Arizona. Her life in the desert has inspired a passion for succulents and cacti.
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Faucaria tigrina Tiger Jaws
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Tiger Jaws succulent resembles the open jaws of a fanged animal. Thick triangular leaves have of soft, curved "teeth" that direct water to the roots of the plant. Tiger Jaws grows in a compact clump. This distinctive plant is very low maintenance and is great as a houseplant. Native to South Africa Faucaria tigrina produces bright yellow flowers in fall.
You'll receive approx. a 3-4" pot sized plant.
All plants are shipped bare root with an established, healthy root system.
Cold Hardiness Zones:
10-11 View Map
Cold Hardy to 30° to 40°F
Succluent plants hail from all around the world, giving you enough diversity to be engaging for a lifetime. With other worldly forms and unreal colors, our tender succulent varieties are sure to be the crown jewel in your gardening project. Tender succulents are not cold hardy so they can't be kept outside year round in cold climates. However, they do make excellent houseplants in the winter. Succulents are easy care plants and share the same basic requirements. Full to part sun excellent drainage not too much water.
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Care and Propagation Information
General Care for Faucaria tigrina “Tiger’s Jaw”
The leaves of “Tiger’s Jaw” may seem sharp, but are actually quite soft. They turn a deep purple when given enough sunlight.
“Tiger’s Jaw” has typical water needs for a succulent. It’s best to use the “soak and dry” method, and allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.
Where to Plant
Faucaria tigrina “Tiger’s Jaw” is not cold hardy, so if you live in a zone that gets colder than 20° F (-6.7° C), it’s best to plant this succulent in a container that can be brought indoors. It does well in full to partial sun.
Plant in an area of your garden that gets 6 hours of sunlight a day.
Pairs Well With
How to Propagate Faucaria tigrina “Tiger’s Jaw”
Faucaria tigrina grows many offsets, making it easy to propagate and share with friends and neighbors.
“Tiger’s Jaw” will produce small offsets, sprouting up around the base of the plant. Simply pull these up and allow the offsets to dry for one to two days before replanting in well-draining soil.
If propagating from seed, sow in a well-draining soil in the fall. You can grow Faucaria seeds outdoors if you live in an zone above 9a. If you live in a cooler area, you can begin sowing indoors under a grow light.
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Pebbled tiger jaws (Faucaria tuberculosa)
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One of the plants I brought home from the recent Succulent Gardens Extravaganza (see here and here) was this unusual South African succulent in a puny 2-inch container:
|Some of the plants I brought back from the Succulent Gardens Extravaganza|
Its botanical name is Faucaria tuberculosa, but I find its common name much more interesting: pebbled tiger jaws. Taking a closer look at the plant, I can definitely see how the small white tubercles could remind someone of teeth.
Over time, Faucaria tuberculosa forms a small colony and will eventually look as beautiful as these specimens. This is a plant I want to enjoy up close so I’ll keep it potted, hoping that it will some day fill a small shallow bowl.
Planting it in the ground might not work too well here in Davis anyway since it doesn’t seem to be too hardy. In all likelihood, a light frost is all it can take (the literature is a bit vague on this subject). If I keep it in a pot, I can easily move it to the front porch together with the dozen of other frost-sensitive plants I have somehow managed to accumulate.
The reason why I’m writing about my tiger jaws today is that much to my surprise it has started to bloom! The flower is a bit squished, but it’s still a cheerful sight at a time of year when not much else is in flower.
Often it’s the small things (including small plants) that give you the biggest jolt of excitement!
|Faucaria tuberculosa flower. The dried black parts on the left are the remnants of old flowers.|
In this photo it’s easy to see the white tubercles that resemble teeth or spines.
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Gaz is not normally into succulents (it's more my thing) but when he saw this a few years ago in one of our nursery visits he liked it so much he bought one. And it's still in our greenhouse looking well :)
I love this plant myself. What a great bloom. Believe it or not I have one planted in my front planter by the house. It has lived through 2 seasons of cold and rain. It has some other succulents with it but seems to be ok.
Mark, do you keep yours in the greenhouse year round?
Candy, very good to know that it's hardier than I thought! Maybe I will plant it in the ground after all. I'll take a look at yours next week.