a Dunce Cap Japanese succulent in a brown nursery pot

DUNCE CAP

ILLUSTRATED CARE GUIDE FOR DUNCE CAP (OROSTACHYS IWARENGE)

This delicate plant has a beautiful botanical name; Orostachys iwarenge or boehmeri. Contrary to its common name, the Chinese Dunce Cap actually hails from the cool valley forests of Japan.

UK collectors love this plant as it is one of a very small group of succulents that hails originally from Asia. Another interesting fact is that it lives in a continuous life and death cycle – during harsh conditions or cold weather it dies back completely aboveground to re-sprout in Spring. The name, Dunce Cap, references its tall conical shape when it’s in bloom.

It is during warmer conditions that it shows off its clustering lavender, grey and green tinted petite rosettes. When planted in a rock garden, you will notice elegant stolons reaching for viable spaces in rocks and cracks. It will quickly fill out a pot in just a season or two. The budding spires grow from the centre of the rosettes and are stunning when they bloom with pink and/or white flowers.

This is a very caring plant; the main or “mother rosette” will sprout stolons which support & grow small rosettes. Only once these pups have rooted and grown large enough to survive on their own, will the main rosette start blooming. As a monocarpic succulent, the rosette will die after blooming, but the pups live on and sprout their own stolons of pups.

 

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Light & Temperature:
  • Your Dunce Cap will appreciate light sun and semi shade. We keep it on the sunniest spot in the greenhouse – it grows nice lavender chunky leaves when kept in full sun vs. more flattish blue ones on a shady post.
Watering:
  • Let the soil dry out completely before you give it more water.
  • Give less water during colder months as the plant will be dormant and not actively growing.
Planting & Soil:
  • A well-draining gravelly soil mix is best for this plant.
  • This adaptable plant can thrive in nutrient-rich or nutrient-poor soil.
  • Your Dunce Cap loves rock gardens or areas with some shade in your garden or well-draining pots in your home.
  • Use a liquid fertiliser when your plant seems to slow down in growth or loose a lot of petals during its active growing season.
Impress your friends:
  • The Dunce Cap is able to survive winters under snow down to -40° C.
  • The stolon is a horizontal stem that takes root to form new plants.
  • ‘Monocarpic’ means to flower once before dying.
  • Your Dunce Cap might lose many of its larger leaves or petals when it is cold. This is for protection by tightening to a fraction of the size that it normally would be during growing season.

 

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