Orostachys Boehmeri Keiko (Chinese Dunce Cap) Care Guide
The succulent Orostachys Bohemeri Keiko, also known as Orostachys Boehmeri, Orostachys Keiko, or Chinese Dunce Cap, is a species native to East Asia, mainly China, Japan, and Mongolia.
It stands out for its small rosettes that sprout from long and thin stolons and for its prolific growth, which, in its adult stage, allows it to quickly cover the entire pot.
Furthermore, it is one of the succulents with the highest cold resistance, making it ideal for people living in subzero climates who are typically unable to cultivate this type of plant.
In this guide you will learn all the information you need to know about the characteristics, care and propagation of the Chinese Dunce Cap.
- Light: full sun, except in very high temperatures
- Height: grows up to 10-15 cm tall and 30-60 cm wide
- Soil: fast draining
- Watering: normal to low
- Minimum temperature: -34 °C
- Propagation: by seeds, stolons, and separating offshoots
- Origin: East Asia (China, Japan and Mongolia)
- Common names: Chinese Dunce Cap, Orostachys Boehmeri, and Orostachys Keiko
- Price: $10-20 USD
Orostachys Boehmeri Keiko is part of the Crassulaceae family.
It grows in the form of small rosettes with grayish-green leaves when it has good sun exposure or during winter. When mostly cultivated in partial shade, its leaves acquire a greener tone with very few gray shades.
It is a small-sized succulent, with rosettes that can grow up to 5-10 cm tall and wide. These rosettes spread, forming small plants on thin stems that extend up to 15 cm away from the mature rosettes.
Considering both the main and secondary rosettes, a group can reach a width of up to 30 cm.
After several years, the rosettes produce tiny star-shaped flowers with pale yellow petals and green pistils.
Orostachys Boehmeri Keiko or Chinese Dunce Cap Care
For the Chinese Dunce Cap, it is recommended to provide direct sunlight for at least 5 to 6 hours a day to ensure healthy development, maintain the compact shape of its leaves, and prevent etiolation.
In places with very high temperatures, it is recommended to mainly expose it to the morning sun and keep it in partial shade during the afternoon, especially during the peak sun hours (12 pm to 3 pm). This is to prevent its leaves from getting burned.
It is important to clarify that it is not recommended to cultivate this succulent indoors, even with ample lighting. Orostachys Boehmeri Keiko is a species that requires a lot of direct sunlight, and if kept indoors, it is likely to lose its coloration and start to etiolate.
Always remember that if the nursery where you bought it had it protected from the sun under a shade cloth or something similar, it is important not to expose it to this amount of sun immediately but to allow it to gradually acclimate, little by little until it gets used to it.
Once it is adapted to being in direct sun for several hours, you can expose it to the normal number of hours. It even has no problem with direct midday sun in cold climates or temperate climates with a greater tendency to cold.
However, as each space and lighting and temperature conditions are different, it is important to pay attention to these three points with even greater priority than what I mentioned above:
- When its leaves have a greener tone, it means it needs more sun exposure, as its normal state color, although partly green, also has many grayish shades.
- Additionally, if you notice that between each row of leaves, they begin to separate a lot and the rosette begins to elongate, it will also be a sign that they need more sun.
- If the leaves begin to show burns (black spots) or appear wrinkled despite being adequately watered, it means there is an excess of sunlight, and it is advisable to reduce the exposure time a little.
As for watering, the Chinese Dunce Cap, with its considerably thick leaves, is a succulent that retains enough water in both its stems and leaves, storing a considerable amount of liquid.
Due to this, it is a plant that has good drought resistance but not much tolerance to excess moisture. Therefore, it is important to exercise caution when watering this succulent to avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot.
The general recommendation is to always wait until the substrate is completely dry before watering it again. Never water it when the substrate is still damp because it could start to rot or suffer irreversible damage.
As a standard for places without extreme climates, a normal watering routine for the Sedum Lineare would be every 10-12 days during spring and summer, and every 3-4 weeks during winter.
However, it is always important to check the moisture in the substrate with even greater priority than any routine. If the substrate were to be completely dry before then, it would be time to water it.
If you want to intensify the color of its leaves, you can slightly reduce its water intake without allowing it to become dehydrated. For example, if you normally water it every 9 days, you can wait a couple of days between each watering, and this will intensify its color. This technique is called "stressing" the plant.
Orosthachys Boehmeri Keiko, like most succulents, adapts relatively well to any soil as long as it has good drainage to prevent waterlogging.
In addition to potting soil, your soil mixture should include something looser or porous such as gravel, volcanic rock, or tree bark. This will prevent the plant from retaining too much water and help its roots grow easily.
In general, the ideal average soil mix should have the following approximate proportions:
- 40% of universal soil with worm humus
- 30% of gravel, volcanic rock, tree bark, or a mixture of all
- 20% of peat or perlite
- 10% of river sand
- Optional: A little ground eggshell and activated aquarium charcoal to prevent fungal growth
Of course, the proportions of each material can vary depending on the temperature and humidity of the place where you live.
But if you cannot find all the materials, don't worry. The important thing is always to maintain a higher percentage of inorganic materials to have a well-ventilated, light, rapidly draining soil that is not too high in nutrients.
- Organics: peat, coconut fiber, worm humus, compost, etc.
- Inorganics: gravel, volcanic rock, perlite, vermiculite, sand, etc.
Additionally, having a pot with several holes will greatly help with even more drainage.
The optimal temperature for constant growth and flowering of the Chinese Dunce Cap is between 13 °C and 26 °C. However, it can still maintain good condition in higher and lower temperatures.
In terms of cold resistance, this succulent has a high tolerance for frost and can withstand temperatures several degrees below freezing.
It can endure temperatures close to -20 °C for several days without major issues. Even when the substrate is dry, it can withstand temperatures as low as -34 °C, but not for an extended period (no more than 1 or 2 days). If exposed to these temperatures for a longer duration, it is likely to die quickly.
If you live in a place with lower temperatures, it is highly recommended to place it in a greenhouse or indoors.
How to propagate Orostachys Boehmeri Keiko or Chinese Dunce Cap
Orostachys Boehmeri Keiko can be propagated by seeds, stolons, and separating offshoots.
The most common and effective options are stolon and offshoot propagation, although the latter occurs naturally and cannot be controlled beyond taking good care of your plant to encourage more offspring.
Some people also choose to use seed propagation, but this method is not commonly used as it is it is more complicated and time consuming than the previous ones.
Below, I explain how to reproduce this the Chinese Dunce Cap by each method:
As mentioned before, stolon propagation is the most effective method for the Chinese Dunce Cap.
The stolon, consisting of one or several rosettes with their respective stems, usually develops roots in a short period of time.
Follow these steps to reproduce Orostachys Boehmeri Keiko by stolons.
- Choose the stolon: When selecting a stolon to propagate, it is advisable to choose one that is not too small, it is best to select a well-formed and mature stolon, this will promote easier and faster root development.
- Separate the stolon: Once chosen, separate the stolon very carefully using a knife, scissors or cutter previously sterilized with alcohol. It is important to ensure that the cut made on the stolon is as straight as possible, this facilitates the wound healing process and helps the stolon to generate roots faster once planted in the soil.
- Remove leaves from the stolon’s base: Alternatively, once you cut the stolon, remove the lower leaves to leave the base of the stem free to facilitate root generation, with 1 or 2 cm will be enough.
- Let the wound dry: As the wound remains moist, it is advisable to let the stolon dry for 1 or 2 days until its callus forms. To promote healing, you can leave it in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight and in a vertical position, such as hanging or propped up.
- Place the stolon into a pot: Once the stolon has healed, place it into a pot filled with soil. Wait 5-7 days before watering to allow the stolon to develop stronger and healthier roots while continuing to heal.
You can get Orostachys Boehmeri Keiko seeds by buying them at a specialized store or through natural pollination of the plant's flowers.
The steps to follow to propagate the Chinese Dunce Cap by seeds are:
- Prepare the soil: You must prepare a draining soil and sterilize it by watering it with boiling water. This is to kill any fungi or bacteria that might be there.
- Place it in a container with a lid: Once the soil has cooled, place it inside a container, preferably transparent and with a lid. This is to simulate the greenhouse effect.
- Mix it with a less dense material: As a recommendation, mix the soil with small portions of a less dense material such as sawdust, coconut fiber or rice husk. This will make the soil a little looser and lighter, allowing the roots to penetrate and grow more easily, with less stress on the plant.
- Place the seeds and water the soil regularly: Once the soil is ready, drop (not bury) the seeds in it. To make them germinate, you should always keep them well hydrated and with abundant filtered light, such as near a window. It is important to avoid placing the seeds in direct sunlight during this process.
Note: The container must have holes to avoid waterlogging and watering should be done preferably with a spray bottle. Furthermore, it is important to ensure that the soil is at least 3-4 cm deep, this will provide enough room for the roots to grow and develop properly.
The seeds usually germinate after 1 to 2 weeks and are ready for transplanting after about 2 to 3 months.
Offshoots or pups propagation
As the Orostachys Boehmeri Keiko matures, and as long as it has the proper conditions and care, it begins to occasionally produce offshoots.
These are small fully formed plants that grow at the base of the main plant or mother plant. In turn, these offshoots produce new stolons with more rosettes.
That's where you'll find the main difference of this method compared to the stolon method. To make it a bit clearer, the difference lies in the following points:
- Offshoots propagation: you separate and cultivate one of the main rosettes or offshoots that already have their own offspring stolons.
- Stolons propagation: you only separate one or several of those stolons, but not the rosette from which they originate.
To propagate the Chinese Dunce Cap by offshoots, follow these steps:
- Choose the shoots: Try to choose the most mature shoots, even if they already have some roots on the stem. These shoots are easier to detach and will grow faster.
- Remove the shoots: Carefully remove them from the mother plant using disinfected scissors or cutters. Some shoots may come off just by gently twisting them. In any case, always be careful not to damage the roots.
- Plant the shoots: Plant them in a small pot with common succulent soil, one pot for each sprout. For your soil mix, remember to follow the recommendations mentioned above.
- Water the substrate: You should water the substrate generously and wait until it is completely dry to water again. Some people recommend watering with a spray bottle during the first 2 or 3 weeks, especially for the shoots that do not have roots.
The ideal time to transplant offshoots is during spring, as it is the season when they grow and reproduce the fastest. However, transplanting can also be done in other seasons, but growth may be slower.
This method, being small fully formed shoots, is very effective and enables the plant to quickly adapt to its new environment.
What are your thoughts on the Chinese Dunce Cap?
As you could see, the Chinese Dunce Cap is an easy-to-maintain succulent as long as you have it in a place with direct sunlight. Furthermore, being a fairly prolific species, it is a good option for those who want to start propagating succulents.
Lastly, its excellent cold resistance makes it perfect for succulent lovers living in extremely cold climates who are usually unable to cultivate this type of plants.
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All the best taking care of your plants!
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