Tuesday, October 16, 2012

October Pagodas

I've grown this Orostachys for many years, but this year it has performed overtime (a dozen or more towers arising here and there all over my garden. I believe it is O. japonica: the names of these odd little succulents are in something of a muddle. But whatever the correct Latin name may one day turn out to be, it is a welcome flourish to end the gardening season. I can't seem to put my fingers on a picture of Orostachys boemeri (a much commoner plant in gardens) which is also spectacular right now...perhaps it shall merit its own blog some day...

I obtained the species above from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew--as Orostachys chanettii (which I assumed had to be correct, considering the provenance).  I have been told it is probably just Orostachys thyrsiflora, which in turn has been lumped with O. spinosa (see below). This blooms in June for me--much earlier than the superficially quite similar O. japonica.

The picture above was taken this summer at Bob Nold's garden: it is the biggest colony of Orostachys minuta (which has also been lumped into O. spinosa--go figure!). Had Bob harvested seed, we could easily have grown several trillion plants from this little trough's worth of plants to carpet the entire hemisphere. The seed are miniscule..

Here is the classical Orostachys spinosa--the form most often cultivated. I have blogged about this before...

Quite distinct from this is Orostachys spinosa, which we found almost everywhere we stopped in the Kazakhstan Altai from the lowland steppe to the tundra. Orostachys have accrued an amazing number of common names--considering they're exotic:"little duncecaps", "pagodas" and of course the many variations on their Japanese common name (iwarenge)...I must have a dozen distinct species and hybrids, and would like to possess even more. Few plants add such a sweet little riff to the late season rock garden or containers. Try one! You'll like it!


  1. I only got my first Orostachys spinosa this summer and it was immediately attached by snails. I managed to rescue it and hopefully can get it through winter to grow it properly next year.

    See all your lovely photos means I am going to have to dig out a few more varieties.

    And I am not surprised that the plant form Kew may be wrongly named, they re not always great and their plant sales section is appalling.

  2. We find most Orostachys grow much better in containers than in the open ground. I have also found they do surprisingly well planted on TOP of rocks--they seem a little safer than way from mollusks. I never cease to be amazed at how many places I see Orostachys thriving--I suspect once you get it going it will grow gangbusters for you. Try the top of the flat rock trick--it really works (tucked into some clay for anchoring them)...

    I don't recall the plant shop at Kew: I was very impressed with Wisley's, however. I've not been to Britain in a few years, and miss it terribly.

    1. Thank you for the tip. I want to try some crevice and rock garden pots so this is will be a good plant to add. The slug attach does not seem to have set the plant back too much and it already has 4 offsets, so should be a good little clump next year.

      Funnily enough my plant came from Wisley plant shop and I agree it is a very good little garden centre.

  3. The only one of my Orostachys that is bothered by slugs is O. spinosa. Which puzzles me, it does not look like it would be as tasty as the softer leafed Orostachys growing right next to it.


Featured Post

A garden near lake Tekapo

The crevice garden of Michael Midgley Just a few years old, this crevice garden was designed and built by Michael Midgley, a delightful ...

Blog Archive