Orostachys malacophylla

Orostachys malacophylla


Orostachys malacophylla (Green Duncecap)

Orostachys malacophylla (Green Duncecap) is a succulent plant that forms rosettes of green to pale green leaves. The rosettes grow up to 6…

Orostachys Species, Green Duncecap, Red-Stemmed Orostachys, Sedum


Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual


Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Gardeners' Notes:

On Jan 9, 2010, promethean_spar from Union City, CA wrote:

Grows well in CA, heat and cold are not a problem - however slugs and snails seem to like the Orostachys that lack pointy leaves.

In winter when exposed to frost the outer leaves will die and the core of the rosette will curl into a tight ball and stay that way until opening up in spring. They look pretty ratty compared to semperviviums in winter, but don't get burned to the ground like sedums. This species grows best in cool weather and appears dormant mid-summer, it grows all winter long when protected from frost in a greenhouse, even with lows in the 20's. Frost appears to trigger them to curl up and go dormant.

Orostachys malacophyllus produces large numbers of offsets on stolons that are about 4" long, so despite the plant's small size it should be placed. read more in a bowl or trough that is at least 8" in diameter so the offsets can root. I tried them in 3.5" pots and the offsets all hung over the sides and failed to root. Excessive heat or cold will cause the stolons to wither, leaving the offsets to fend for themselves.

Orostachys are monocarpic (a rosette dies in flowering), so it is important to keep plants and offsets of different ages to avoid losing them to flowering.


Orostachys malacophylla var. aggregata (Ohba): Glossy green rosettes that shoot up into tall cones when they bloom in fall. The aboveground material dies back in winter during its dormant period, but it sprouts new offsets on stolons each spring, eventually forming a dense mat. This variety is native to Japan.

PLEASE NOTE: Dormant in winter months. If you order November - March, plant will arrive dormant, but will typically re-sprout by mid-May in most climates.

Orostachys are easy, frost hardy plants that thrive outdoors with full sun and great drainage. Plant in raised beds or containers with drainage holes and mix 50% coarse sand, pumice, or perlite into the soil to prevent rot. Regular water will help young plants establish roots and spread quickly, but mature Orostachys can tolerate extended drought. This variety is easy to re-root from stem cuttings. Look to our Succulent Cuttings Guide for tips on succulent propagation.

Orostachys — The other, cold-hardy rosette succulents!

Orostachys (Or-oh-STACK-kiss) is a small genus of succulents native to the mountain regions of China, Japan, Korea, Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia. The elegant, rounded rosette forms are reminiscent of Sempervivum. Like semps, Orostachys have a “hens and chicks” growth habit and are impressively cold-hardy. You may not have heard of them before — they are hard to find but so rewarding to grow. Let’s learn more about these hardy succulents.

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All About Growing Orostachys

Orostachys form a central rosette with smaller, rosette-shaped pups Succulent pups are the baby succulents that form at the base. coming off the mother plant. The pups are attached to the mother rosette by modified stems called “stolons”. The leaves are much more rounded than those of Sempervivum. After 2-3 years, Orostachys form tall, conical spires of closely packed blooms in fall. These showy bloom stems give rise to the common name of Chinese dunce cap succulents.

Orostachys are monocarpic succulents. The mother rosette that forms the bloom spire will die after the blooms fade. But not to worry — first, many pups are formed to result in more and more Chinese dunce caps to come. In winter, Orostachys go dormant and die back to the ground. But they come back lush and full when spring returns.

Orostachys thrive in nutritionally poor, fast-draining soil. Plant where they will receive full sun.

Orostachys – Ground Cover Succulents

Orostachys form dense mats of low-growing silver or green foliage. They form a handsome ground cover. Chinese dunce caps grow quickly, especially with regular watering. Once established, they are as drought tolerant as most succulents. These tough little plants are highly effective in rock gardens, raised beds and containers. Amend the garden soil with pumice to improve the drainage.

Orostachys have a shallow root system, so they will thrive in shallow containers like bonsai pots. In time, the baby rosettes will spill over the edge of any container, adding tremendous charm.

Orostachys — Cold Hardy Succulents

Orostachys spinosa, photo credit FarOutFlora (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

All Orostachys species form rosettes, but the shapes and colors vary. Chinese dunce caps are cold hardy succulents, though some are more cold-hardy than others. All will withstand temperatures in climate zone 6, -10° F (-23.3° C). Some will thrive outdoors year-round even in zones 4 and 5. They form a chemical akin to anit-freeze that prevents water from crystallizing within their cell walls when the temps drop below freezing. This is the essence of winter hardy succulents.

Orostachys spinosa, shown above, has an intriguing growth pattern. The central leaves form a Fibonacci sequence. Overall, the plant reminds me of a sunflower! Exceptionally cold hardy, O. spinosa thrives where winters reach -30°F (-34.4° C). It can actually photosynthesize through snow cover!

While Chinese dunce caps are winter hardy succulents that shrug off sleet and snow, they perform best where winters are relatively dry. Rather than frequent cycles of snow and thaw, where the ground gets drenched, they do best where snow packs remain in place until spring. If you are planting Orosctachys where you receive frequent winter rains or multiple snow thaws, consider planting on a slope and be sure to amend the soil so it drains rapidly.

Propagating Orostachys

Orostachys malacophylla var. iwarenge, photo credit Mountain Crest Gardens

Orostachys form wide mats of densely packed rosettes. The plants propagate themselves by forming offsets Succulent offsets are the baby succulents that form at the b. connected to the mother plant by horizontal, modified stems, called stolons. In time, the baby plant reaches the soil and roots in. The stolon A stolon (STOLE-ehn) is a horizontal root, growing just abov. eventually dries and breaks, leaving an independent plant.

You can propagate Orostachys by removing a pup and snipping the stolon. It is quicker and easier when the pup has already formed a network of roots. Chinese dunce caps can also be propagated by individual leaves.

Is Orostachys Toxic to Pets?

Pet Safe Succulent

Cold hardy Orostachys is non-toxic and entirely safe to grow around cats, dogs and small children —even if they nibble!

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Orostachys Pests

Orostachys are easy to grow, without serious issues with disease or pests. Mealybugs can become a problem, especially where soils poorly drain. They tend to collect between the tightly packed leaves of the plant, making the insects difficult to reach with isopropyl alcohol. Pests are easily prevented from troubling your Chinese dunce caps. Just work some dry worm castings into the soil when you plant the Orostachys. Or add it as a top dressing to established plants. Worm castings are my preferred method of pest prevention for all succulents

Orostachys are elegant and charming succulents that deserve a place in your garden. But they can be difficult to find. Mountain Crest Gardens is a great source, probably because they have the finest selection of cold hardy succulents I have found. While these beauties thrive in the cold climate garden, they are also lovely in mixed succulent arrangements!

Are your currently growing Orostachys in your garden? If not, do you plan to? I would love to know! Please take a moment to leave me a comment and let me know! I’ll get right back to you!

’til next time, Stay safe and plant succulents!

Watch the video: Simple succulents arrangement