How to Grow and Care for Tiger Jaws Succulent

A bloom may not happen indoors

tiger jaws succulents

The Spruce / Kara Riley

Tiger jaws is a dependable, slow-growing succulent plant with low rosettes of fleshy, triangular leaves edged with spiny "teeth" that get its name for its fierce tiger-looking mouth. The spikes are soft and flexible to the touch. The plant is slow-growing, living for many decades with proper care. An established plant will produce many offsets, which you can plant during the tiger jaws' regular growing season in spring or summer.

closeup of tiger jaws succulents
The Spruce / Kara Riley
blooming tiger jaws succulent
Guenter Fischer 
Botanical Name Faucaria tigrina
Common Name Tiger Jaws, shark jaws
Family Aizoaceae
Plant Type Perennial, succulent
Mature Size Up to 6 in. tall, 6 in. wide
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Moist, well-drained, loamy, sandy, clay soils
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Fall, winter
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zones 9, 10, 11
Native Area Africa

Tiger Jaws Care

Native to the Eastern Cape province in South Africa, tiger jaws succulents can be found growing amongst rocks and clay soil in the subtropical deserts of the area. Their growing season begins in the spring and lasts throughout the summer, and they display brilliant yellow flowers during the fall—although it is uncommon for them to flower when grown indoors.

Tiger jaws can be a garden plant in warmer zones, but it is most often grown as a potted plant in a coarse, well-draining potting mix. It can thrive happily on a patio or deck during the summer and will survive brief frosts, but it should be brought indoors when steady cold winter weather approaches. Tiger jaws get about 6 inches tall and wide.

Tiger jaws succulents are not prone to any specific pests or diseases, however, they can easily develop root rot if they are overwatered or exposed to too much humidity. Key signs of root rot include brown spots on the leaves and near the base of the plant, as well as squishy or mushy leaves or stems. Give your tiger jaws succulent a bright, sunny spot in your home and they will thrive. The will periodically need to be repotted, at which time the offset plants that form around the base can be removed or potted on their own as new plants.

Light

Tiger jaws succulents are sun-loving plants that require at least three hours of bright, direct light a day, and preferably six hours or more. Moving the plant outside during the summer will help it get the light that it requires. While it's uncommon for tiger jaws succulents to bloom when grown indoors, placing the plant outdoors during the summer will help to increase the chances of flowering. Tiger jaws succulents can tolerate less light during the winter months, but should still be placed in a bright location.

Soil

Like most succulents, tiger jaws succulents require porous, well-draining soil to thrive. In their natural habitat, tiger jaws can often be found growing in open, rocky areas with clay soil. Indoors, however, a standard cactus soil is usually sufficient. Some growers find even standard cactus mix to have too much moisture-retaining peat moss, and they tailor the potting mix by adding additional chicken grit.

Or, you can make an ideal potting mix for tiger jaws by blending 2 parts of sterilized potting soil, 1 part fine pumice, and 1 part sand. 

Water

The spikey tiger jaw teeth direct rainwater and dew to the base of the plant, where the roots can absorb it. A tiger plant can be delicate when watering; it's not uncommon for a tiger jaws plant to die overnight if given too much water that doesn't drain out of its container. Only water a tiger plant once it's dry. As soon as the soil dries out completely and the plant appears to be shriveling, give it a thorough watering, then allow it to dry out thoroughly before the next watering.

Water tiger jaws succulents more frequently during their growing period (April to August). During the fall and winter, allow the soil to remain dry for extended periods, and when you water it, moisten the soil rather than drenching it.

Temperature and Humidity

In their native South African habitat, tiger jaws succulents grow in dry, hot conditions. However, they are also able to tolerate lower temperatures than many other succulent species. The ideal temperature is considered to be about 68 degrees Fahrenheit, but they enjoy somewhat higher temperatures (up to 90 degrees) during the summer, and will even survive brief frosts. But cold winter months call for this plant to be brought in off the patio unless you live in zones 9 to 11.

When grown indoors, the average household humidity is adequate for tiger jaws succulents, but they should not be exposed to too much humidity (so the bathroom probably isn't an ideal spot for these succulents).

Fertilizer

Tiger jaws succulents do not require regular fertilizing. In fact, too much fertilizer can result in unbalanced, mushy growth that causes the plant to look leggy or break apart. However, during their active growing period (April to August) tiger jaws succulents can be fertilized once or twice with a diluted liquid fertilizer to help support new growth.

Types of Tiger Jaws

Another species of Faucaria sometimes grown as a houseplant is F. felina. It may be also known as "tiger jaws," but this plant has shorter, less ferocious teeth than F. tigrina. Otherwise, the plants are identical. Some commercial growers consider F. tigrina to be simply a cultivar of F. felina, giving it the designation Faucaria felina 'Tiger Jaws'.

Propagating Tiger Jaws

Similar to aloe plants and haworthia succulents, tiger jaws succulents are usually propagated by separating offsets from the main plant. It is best to propagate tiger jaws during their active growing period, in the late spring or early summer.

When separating offsets, you may be left with some plants that do not have any of their own roots attached. These offsets should not be placed in the soil right away, but instead should be left to callous over before being repotted. Once the base of the offset has hardened, it can be placed into the soil as a regular plant. Use the same type of soil as the mother plant enjoys—extra-coarse cactus/succulent mix.

Newly propagated tiger jaws succulents should be placed in medium light and watered less frequently as their root systems develop. After a couple of weeks, they may be gradually introduced to bright, direct light and treated as a regular tiger jaws plant.

How to Grow Tiger Jaws From Seed

Faucaria plants are also relatively easy to propagate from seeds (provided your indoor plant flowers and produces them), But given the ease with which offsets can be separated and the slow growth rate of the seeds, seed propagation is not common.

Potting and Repotting Tiger Jaws

Tiger jaws should be potted in shallow containers using an extra-coarse cactus/succulent potting mix. These succulents are slow growers, and therefore do not require frequent repotting. They should be repotted only when they have outgrown their previous container—approximately every two years or so. You should also ensure that the pot you are using has good drainage holes, as tiger jaws succulents will rot if left sitting in water.