Guide To Growing Your Orostachys Iwarenge – Dunce Cap

The Orostachys Iwarenge, or commonly known as the Dunce cap, is a small friendly looking, cone shaped succulent that is easy to propagate, safe for the family, and fun to grow. When researching this plant, we noticed there isn’t a lot of information about the Dunce Cap online.

In fact, several of the resources actually had information that’s incorrect when reviewing them.

So, we have decided to put together the best information and made a guide on how to grow your Dunce Cap so that you won’t have to tire yourself into apathy searching for your questions to be answered.         

What Is A Orostachys Iwarenge?

The Orostachys Iwarenge, or commonly known as the Dunce Cap or the Chinese Dunce Cap, is a species of succulent native to Japan, Northern China, and some parts of Mongolia, from the Orostachys genus of the Crassulaceae family.

This small green and lavender colored succulent grows into a cone shape that can reach heights of 6 inches (15cm) and blooms yellow and white flowers in season. This succulent is monocarpic, meaning that each one of its rosette’s blooms only once in its lifetime, but its offsets can be propagated to start the life cycle again.

The Dunce Cap generally will have many offsets branching out from it that can be easily propagated and are nontoxic to humans and pets, so feel free to have them all over the house.

What Is The Common Name Of The Orostachys iwarenge?

The common name of the Orostachys iwarenge is the “Chinese Dunce Cap” but is often shortened to “Dunce Cap”.

The genus name, Orostachys, comes from the Greek word “oros” meaning mountain, and “stachys” meaning spike, tying into the natural environment that the succulent grows in and its physical appearance. The species name, Iwarenge, is Japanese for rock lotus.

Japanese rock lotus
Japanese Rock Lotus

The common name, “Chinese Dunce Cap” or simply known as “Dunce Cap”, refers to the succulent’s cone shape, resembling a dunce cap, and where the succulent originated from dry mountain tops in Japan.

The dunce cap, or the dunce’s cap, was a paper cone with the word “dunce”, meaning stupid person, written on it that use to be put on children in Western schools to show disgrace, this practice is no longer in use as it was discontinued in the 1950’s.

The reason for calling it a ‘Chinese’ Dunce Cap in Japan is that the Japanese have a long-standing personal feud you might say with the Chinese. They refer to them as Barbarians because the Japanese believe that they are rude and lack manners.

The Chinese have a thing or two to say about the Japanese as well. We don’t want to get into the middle of it, we are just reporting the facts of why it’s called what it is.

We do hope that the citizens of these two countries resolve their differences and become more friendly sooner than later.

History Of The Orostachys Iwarenge

There is no recorded history of this specific species other than what information is known about the genus, Orostachys.

There may be a record of who first discovered it somewhere. However, that would likely be accredited to a Western explorer which would not likely be accurate. Since it grows abundantly in a few Asian countries, it would more likely be true that an Asian discovered it.

However, no records are known to us as to who or which nation should receive that credit.

We do know that now it’s an exceptionally well received houseplant that is found everywhere from every day homes to garnishing the lavish decorations of high end resorts.


How To Take Care Of Your Dunce Cap

The Dunce Cap is cold hardy. Being one of the few succulents that originated in cold climates. This succulent will have some different care requirements, but they are not so drastic that you will have to change the environment of your home and the growing areas of your other succulents.

While the Orostachys Iwarenge is adaptable to both nutrient rich and nutrient poor soil, it’s best to grow your Dunce Cap in a mineral based well-drained soil, with a base such as gravel, something that provides great water drainage and good aeration.

All succulents and cacti are susceptible to rot that is caused from a watering issue, whether it is over watering, standing water at the base of the succulent, or a lot of water that gets caught in the leaves.

Along with having soil that provides great drainage and aeration, a pot with drain holes is important to not let any excess water stand that causes the roots to rot away in the soil.

This is very important to remember for the succulents in their dormancy period when they don’t use as much water. During this period lessen the watering frequency to only watering when the soil really is bone dry.

Speaking of water, you shouldn’t overly drench your succulent in water. Use the ‘dry and soak’ method to help keep yourself in check on the plant’s watering schedule.

Once the soil feels dry, then you can water it and don’t give it anymore until this watering cycle has been fully absorbed and the soil is nice and dry.

To provide a nutritional and growth boost to your succulent, give your plant low-nitrogen fertilizer twice during its growing periods in the early spring and late summer.

Give the succulent no fertilizer in the winter in its dormancy period. It won’t uptake much of it and it may actually burn the plant and its roots.

The Crassulaceae family of succulents are cold-hardy and can survive the coldest temperatures as low as 0° to -10°F (-18° to -23°C), but just because they can survive those temperatures does not mean that’s where they thrive and do their best. Keeping them in temperatures above freezing helps to guarantee that the plant won’t suffer accidental damage and you’ll get your blossoming flowers that next summer.

These succulents grow well in cool night temperatures, and it signals them to go into their blooming process. Having warm or even hot days then cool nights let’s the plants chemistry go into action and produce those flowers you’ve been waiting for.

There is nothing to worry about if temperatures get pretty chilly where you live, but if temperatures are really cold and below freezing, then it’s best to bring them inside until temperatures have risen enough to move them outside again.


The Dunce Cap prefers to be in semi-shade and full sun. If grown indoors, place your succulent on a windowsill or somewhere that gets plenty of full sunlight. If grown outdoors, plant your succulent in a part of your garden where it gets full sun in the morning and semi shade in the afternoon.

Of course you can have semi-variants of these growing conditions, this is a relatively hardy plant and can easily withstand a little bit on either side of those optimal specifications.

What Is The Best Soil For Growing Your Dunce Cap?

The best soil for growing your Dunce Cap is a mineral based soil that provides good drainage and aeration, such as a gravelly soil or soil set on top of gravel.

For the soil itself a mixture of 50% perlite or good quality sand and 50% potting soil will be just about right.

It is important that your soil provides great drainage, water that would stay in the soil or around the plant can cause rot and kill the plant.

Along with a well-draining soil, a pot with drainage holes that can let water escape easily is just as important as finding the right soil for your plant.

These optimal draining combinations, will help guarantee that your succulent will be one step closer to preventing rot in its future.

Nothings worse than looking over your plant to find it dying because of something that was so easily preventable.

How Much Sunlight Should I Expose My Dunce Cap To?

The Dunce Cap thrives best in full sun and some partial shade. If grown indoors, you should place your succulent on a windowsill or somewhere that gets plenty of full direct sunlight.

If grown outdoors, plant your succulent in a spot where it can get full sun in the morning and partial shade in the afternoon. This will be optimal, if you don’t have those exact conditions, don’t worry, it’s a hardy plant, just do the best you can do.

What Temperatures Are Best For The Dunce Cap?

This succulent is very cold-hardy and can survive temperatures as low as in the ranges of 0° to -10°F (-18° to -23°C). That doesn’t mean that those are optimal temperatures, it just means that it ‘can’ survive them.

It is best to plant your succulent in a portable container if temperatures tend to get lower than freezing where you live, you can bring it indoors until temperatures outside have warmed up and you can transfer it back outside.


How Often Should I Water My Dunce Cap?

You shouldn’t water your succulent too often. Using the ‘dry and soak’ method, will help guide you in your watering schedule for your succulent.

Keep the soil dry between watering and water deeply around the succulent, avoiding watering directly on the leaves to prevent it from rotting.

If you notice that the succulents’ leaves are soft, mushy and maybe even a little bit slimy, this may be due to standing water in top of the leaves after watering.

If you see this, just take greater care to water around the plant and not right on top of it.

How To Propagate The Dunce Cap?

You can propagate the Dunce Cap from the offsets.

While using a sterilized cutting tool, cut a large enough offset to have existing roots and plant the cutting in sandy soil of half potting soil and half sand with proper drainage as discussed above. Your newly propagated succulent will be susceptible to mealybugs, so keep a close eye on your plant.

Please be sure to review our section below on pests where we discuss not only how to spot mealy bugs and others, but how to get rid of them as well.

It’s so important to keep your plants pest free and get on it when you do spot them before they get a chance to spread to the rest of your plants causing a much bigger problem.

Is The Dunce Cap Seasonal?

The Dunce Cap is seasonal. In the winter, the succulent goes into a dormancy period and will not use up as much water or nutrients as you would normally give it. In the spring, your succulent will grow and by the mid to late summer, the Dunce Cap will bloom yellow and white flowers from its offsets.

Be sure to follow our watering pattern we discuss above to optimize it’s bloom.

Is The Dunce Cap Poisonous To Pets Or People?

The Dunce Cap is non-toxic to cats and animals and even people.

dog cat

Is The Dunce Cap Edible?

The Dunce Cap is edible, but it is not advised to consume it. The taste is reportedly pretty pucker worthy.

What is The Dunce Cap’s Hardiness?

The Dunce Cap is very cold hardy and can survive in temperatures as low as (-10°F).

That does not mean that these are optimal temperatures, just that it can survive them.

For optimal temperatures, just keep the plant indoors if it looks like it’s going to hit freezing or below and you should be good.

What Are The Most Common Dunce Cap Pests And Diseases?

The most common Dunce Cap pests and diseases are rot and mealybugs.

All succulents are vulnerable and can be victims to rot, it is most commonly caused from bad watering habits whether it’s from over watering, standing water, or other water related problems.

Use the ‘dry and soak’ method to help you keep in check with your schedule and keep the plant dry between waterings.

Mealybugs appear as small white bugs that can be found on the veins and thick stems on the plant. To get rid of them, you can use a home-made remedy of a mix of equal parts rubbing alcohol and dish soap in a regular sized bottle. Apply that to your succulent’s leaves daily until the pests are gone.


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