Orostachys

Family: Crassulaceae
Habitat: Temperate areas of Asia
Cultivation: Orostachys is native to temperate climates and therefore adapts well to living at our european latitudes. It prefers a very sunny position and should be watered sparingly, only when the soil is very dry in spring and summer. Suspend completely the irrigation in winter.
Curiosity: Its name comes from the Greek “√≤ros” (mountain) and “stachys” (ear): we could translate it therefore as “Mountain spike”, a name which comes from the spike-like shape of its flowers and from its areas of origin, at rather high altitudes.

KEY FEATURES

The genus Orostachys includes about twenty crassulaceae native to the temperate zones of China, Japan, Kazakistan, Korea, Mongolia and Russia.

Orostachys inhabits different climate zones at various altitude ranges: from 100 meters above sea level up to 2500! Many of them grow among the rocks in montainous environments, standing also cold temperatures and strong winds. They can also be found in walls or rocks crevices, or either in woods or dry shrublands.

Orostachys are small plants: they usually don’t exceed 30 centimeters in height and 10 centimeters in diameter and they fit perfectly in small pots.

They are succulent with a biennial herbaceous habit; they have fleshy leaves that sometimes show a linear shape, others oval and arranged in rosettes. Their color tends to be light green, sometimes with purple streaks. According to the species, rosettes can be small and numerous or few and very big. In many species, such as O. erubescens, it is dimorphic: this means that the central part is different than the outer part. For example, in O. erubescens, the species above mentioned, the central part of the rosettes resemble a sunflower head, due to the densely compact arrangement of the leaves, and it’s surrounded by a ring of upright, more elongated, sparse and long, leaves. This feature is common in many other species: usually, the central part of the rosette is made up of gut-shaped, small, densely clustered and arranged in spiral leaves, while the outer part is a ring of linear-lanceolate leaves, much longer than the central ones.

The bluish-green leaves, gut-shaped with the point often spiny and facing upwards, can show some elegant tinges of different colours, such as red, purple and yellowish. This feature, together with the dimorphic rosette, gives to Orostachys an enhanced decorative potential which make it rather sought after by succulent enthusiasts.

From the center of the rosette comes out a stem carrying an inflorescence (the spike to which it owes its name). After flowering, the primary rosette dies.

Flowers have five petals and are usually whitish pink and funnel-shaped: the color depends however on the species. Their blooming season occurs usually in Spring and they are pollinated by different insects, depending on the species.

Fruits are follicles. A follicle, in botany, is a dry unilocular fruit formed from one carpel (which is the organ forming the ovary of the flowers), containing two or more seeds. Orostachys usually have oblong-lanceolate follicles, able to open when ripen to spread their seeds.

The roots are fibrous and without rhizomes.

VARIETY AND TYPES

There are about 20 species of Orostachys. The most common on the market, for its beauty, is the Orostachys spinosus.
Here below are some species:

  • O. aggregata
  • O. boehmeri
  • O. cartilaginea
  • O. chanetii
  • O. fimbriata
  • O. furusei
  • O. iwarenge
  • O. japonica
  • O. malacophilla
  • O. minuta
  • O. paradoxa
  • O. sikokiana
  • O. spinosa
  • O. thyrsiflora

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TIPS FOR GROWING

Orostachys is native to temperate climates and therefore adapts well to living in these latitudes.
Here are our other cultivation tips:

  • Choose a very sunny position.
  • In winter it can stand temperatures close to 0 degrees, but it must not be exposed to too prolonged frosts.
  • Water sparingly, only when the soil is dry in spring and summer. Suspend completely the irrigation in winter.
  • Use a mixed soil of peat and coarse sand, as well as well-draining.
  • In winter it can stand temperatures close to 0 degrees, but it must not be exposed to too prolonged frosts.
  • Being a biennial plant, once planted in a fresh soil it does not have particular needs of fertilization. It can be fertilized, anyway, during the vegetative period following different indications, however, for the different species.
  • It is not often necessary to repot. Prefer wide and not too deep pots.

The multiplication can be done very easily by cuttings. You can use the rosettes, detaching and burying them, or individual leaves in some species. The cutting must be buried in spring in a sandy substrate.

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