Orostachys iwarenge (Chinese Dunce Cap Plant)

Orostachys iwarenge

Last updated on August 4th, 2022 at 05:42 am

Orostachys iwarenge, commonly known as the Chinese dunce cap plant, grows in the subtropical to tropical regions of China, Japan, and Korea, and it prefers damp soil to grow in.

Recent research has shown that Chinese dunce cap plant has some rather unique effects on brain activity, which could potentially make it useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease, or even in bolstering memory in normal subjects.

Orostachys iwarenge can be grown in full or partial sunlight, although it will thrive best with daily sunlight exposure.

Here’s everything you need to know about orostachys iwarenge (Chinese dunce cap plant).

Origin and distribution

An evergreen herb that originates from China and Japan, Orostachys is mainly grown in gardens as an ornamental plant. In Chinese culture, it has a number of uses. Its pungent roots are used to kill parasites, and its leaves and flowers can be cooked with meat or prepared as a tea to treat colds, flu, and vomiting.

It is also reputed to improve circulation and cure baldness.

The Chinese use it in traditional medicine for many ailments including inflammation, rheumatism, and back pain. As far as its cultivation goes, you should only grow Orostachys iwarenge if you live in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11; otherwise, your risk of frost damage will be too high.

You should also keep them out of direct sunlight since they’re prone to sunburns.

Orostachys iwarenge propagation

Orostachys iwarenge

Orostachys iwarenge produces new shoots that appear near its base. Simply take a cutting and plant it in damp potting soil for indoor growing or slightly moist, sandy soil for outdoors. If growing indoors, you can place your cuttings under fluorescent lights with ample sunlight so that they have enough light to photosynthesize.

Keep your newly planted cuttings at an average temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In about three weeks, your plant should produce small white flowers followed by small fruits.

After several months, you will notice roots forming on these fruits and they are ready to be transplanted into larger pots. Once established outside, Orostachys iwarenge is hardy in USDA zones 9 through 11.

However, if grown indoors it requires plenty of indirect sunlight and high humidity levels. Misting often is ideal for keeping humidity levels high around Orostachys iwarenge plants.

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Chinese dunce cap care information

Orostachys iwarenge

This hardy, evergreen shrub is low-maintenance and highly resistant to pests, disease, and drought. Just be sure to give it plenty of sunlight, it’s a sun-lover! If you forget to water it for a few days or if it gets caught in a rainstorm, though, don’t worry; Orostachys iwarenge will survive short periods of neglect. You can even prune its branches back in the cold winter months without worrying about injuring it.

Light requirement

Orostachys iwarenge can adapt to a variety of lighting conditions but it needs strong light and soil nutrition to grow optimally. It’s a great plant for beginners because it tolerates low-light levels well, but it will not grow as well in shadier areas or in areas that receive little light. Its growth rate is medium so keep that in mind if you’re looking for something more aggressive.

Chinese dunce cap likes bright indirect light. It can handle full sun but may burn under those conditions. If you’re growing indoors near a window, keep your Orostachys iwarenge away from direct sunlight as much as possible.

Soil/potting mix

This plant grows best in rich, loamy soil with plenty of drainages. A mix of 2 parts garden loam to 1 part each peat moss and sand will work great. Make sure it drains well and never allow it to dry out completely or sit in water. Place a layer of gravel at the bottom for proper drainage, if needed.


Orostachys iwarenge should be watered regularly during their growing season. Though they are not fussy, they can easily suffer from over-watering if you’re not careful. To prevent rot and mold, you should allow excess water to drain out of their container after watering.

Also, keep in mind that Orostachys iwarenge do better when potting soil is slightly on the dry side.


Chinese dunce cap plant will tolerate almost any kind of soil as long as it’s not too wet or acidic. Use a slightly acid-balanced fertilizer once per month during the growing season and once every three months during dormant winter months.

Never fertilize during dormancy. Don’t over-fertilize, though, or your leaves may grow large and floppy. These plants are slow growers that only require small amounts of fertilizer for healthy growth.

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You can also supplement with bone meal or worm castings if you want to add extra nutrients to your soil without adding excess nitrogen. Always be sure to thoroughly water after applying fertilizer, because these supplements are slow-release sources of nutrients and don’t immediately become available to plants.

The best time to apply fertilizer is just before watering in order to prevent burning roots from chemical runoff on dry soil.


Orostachys iwarenge is an extremely hardy plant that can thrive in a wide range of temperatures, so it can be grown both indoors and outdoors. It also tolerates low light levels fairly well, making it an ideal plant for less-than-ideal conditions such as shady patios or winter gardens.

Another bonus is that Orostachys iwarenge has few pests or diseases to worry about; its stiff leaves deter most bugs from setting up camp on your plant!

These plants do not require a lot of heat, but care should be taken to keep them out of hot direct sunlight. Outdoors, can survive temperatures from -5 degrees Celsius to 20 degrees Celsius (-25 to 70 Fahrenheit). Indoors, their ideal temperature range is 15 degrees Celsius to 25 degrees Celsius (60 to 80 Fahrenheit).


In terms of humidity, it is not recommended to grow Orostachys iwarenge in a location that has more than 40% relative humidity. While it can survive slightly higher levels for short periods of time, it’s best to plan for around 35%.

This will ensure your plant doesn’t suffer any long-term damage or health problems caused by excessive moisture in its environment. You can also use an air purifier and dehumidifier to help control room humidity levels.


Chinese dunce cap plants are excellent accent pieces and require little maintenance. Their only requirements are a little bit of pruning and occasional watering. Before performing any pruning, you should let your plant grow for at least two months to give it time to acclimate to its new environment.

Once that time has passed, you can trim away any dead leaves or branches but no more than 15 percent of your plant at once. When trimming, try to leave as many healthy leaves on your plant as possible.

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If you’re unsure about whether a leaf is healthy or not, cut it in half; if there’s green inside, then it’s fine to keep. Also, be sure not to prune during the hottest part of summer—the last thing you want is for your newly trimmed orostachys iwarenge to burn up in an accidental sunburn!

When to repot

Orostachys iwarenge is a slow-growing, rhizomatous herb that requires regular repotting in order to maintain its health and vigor. It should be repotted every year or two, just as it starts to look crowded.

This will stimulate new growth from the rhizomes, keeping your plant healthy and looking great for years to come.

Repotting can be done at any time of year; it’s an excellent idea when you start seeing lush new growth on your bonsai. To repot, simply remove all but about 2 inches of soil from around your plant’s roots. Then place it in a larger pot with fresh soil and water thoroughly. Your new little friend will thank you!

Dormancy/Winter rest

All plants undergo some form of dormancy, but Orostachys iwarenge requires a lengthy winter rest before they bloom. During dormancy, Orostachys iwarenge will lose their leaves and stop growing new roots.

Additionally, Orostachys iwarenge lose almost all chlorophyll during dormancy and become brownish in color as well.

To encourage proper dormancy growth, keep your plant in a cool spot with minimal light – cold temperatures also encourage flower production! Orostachy’s can be brought back to life after dormancy by placing them under bright lights or moving them to a warmer environment.

It is important to note that when you move your plant from one environment to another, it may take several weeks for it to adjust and begin growing again. Be patient!

Orostachys iwarenge flower & fragrance

Orostachys iwarenge

The bright yellow flowers are five-petaled and emerge in spring. The scent is fruity and sweet, with a little spice. It is often compared to mango and lychee fruit but also has hints of freshly mown grass.

Growth rate

The Chinese dunce cap plant can be expected to reach 12 to 18 inches in height and 9 inches in width. Its rate of growth is slow to moderate, making it easy for beginners. A large number of leaves gives it a distinct appearance.

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While most houseplants are considered low-maintenance, Orostachys is generally regarded as being very forgiving in terms of watering and lighting requirements.


It is toxic to dogs and cats. It also causes dermatitis in humans.

USDA hardiness zones

Orostachys iwarenge thrives in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11. It can be grown as an annual or perennial.

Pests, diseases, and problems

The Chinese dunce cap plant isn’t completely immune to problems, but it is considered a slow-growing houseplant, so issues aren’t as prevalent as with other plants. For optimal growth, water when the soil feels slightly dry and doesn’t over-fertilize.

If you see spots or streaks on your leaves that are yellow or brown in color and go beyond leaf margins, check for mealybugs, these pests usually live in clumps on stems or even between leaves. Remove them by wiping down affected areas with rubbing alcohol.

You can also use insecticidal soap spray or neem oil to treat infestations; these products are available at garden centers and nurseries.

Orostachys boehmeri vs iwarenge

Essentially, the major difference between the two plants is that Orostachys boehmeri has rosettes that are more globular in shape and offset, whereas Orostachys iwarenge has rosettes that are open and can be found solitary.


Orostachys is an easy-to-grow succulent in a small clump. It forms a little caudex and spreads with underground rhizomes. It is, however, not very cold hardy.

When exposed to freezing temperatures or cold weather it will die back to its caudex and then reemerge in spring after the danger of frost has passed. Orostachys requires low to moderate light, making it suitable for growing indoors and makes a good addition to any succulent collection.