With green foliage and vivid blooms, sedum is an attractive, versatile solution to trouble spots in the gardener’s landscape. Also known as “stonecrop,” it’s a low-maintenance leaf succulent from the Crassulaceae family native to the Northern Hemisphere and parts of Africa and South America.
Sedum is useful in places where other plants and flowers can’t grow due to dry soil or prolonged sunlight. Sedum’s succulent leaves store water, so it’s a great plant for areas prone to drought. And many sedum species are perennials that require little care, making them a convenient option for new gardeners or those simply looking to add personality to their landscape.
There are hundreds of varieties of sedum that present as low-growing creeping plants as well as tall, upright clumping flowers. The smaller varieties start at just a few inches tall and are popular in rock gardens or as ground cover. Bright pink, purple, red, white, and yellow flowers shoot from the taller clumping species, which grow up to a few feet tall.
Most of the flowering varieties bloom in the spring and summer, attracting butterflies to your garden. Some species, such as Autumn Joy, bloom later and draw bees to their nectar through the fall. Regardless of the type of sedum you choose, it will bring year-round interest to your garden.
Sedum generally grows in zones three through nine. While the perennial is hailed for its hardiness, keep in mind that this hardiness is specific to its variety. Consider your soil type and sunlight availability when selecting which sedum variety to incorporate in your garden.
While most types of sedum require full sun, some varieties are tolerant to partial shade. Consult the specific species preferences to determine the best sunlight environment for your plant.
Whether your sedum species tolerates shade or not, well-drained soil is a must. When it comes to water, less is more since the succulent manages its own moisture supply in its leaves. An accumulation of moisture can lead to rot or mold and can kill the plant, so add sand to your soil if it’s particularly loamy.
Sedum can be grown from seeds as well as in a flat, or a pot. As an adaptive plant, it also easily takes root from cuttings.
Early spring is the optimal time to plant sedum seeds. Add moistened seed-starting mix to a pot with drainage holes. Space seeds about an inch apart, cover with a light layer of seed-starting mix, and press down. Spray the surface lightly with a water bottle and cover with transparent plastic wrap to regulate humidity.
Keep the pot in between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Uncover and mist the surface soil regularly, but do not saturate it. After germination, which should take two to four weeks, the plastic cover may be removed and the pot placed in a sunny window. For more information about germinating sedum, visit the guide here.
To plant from a flat, turn the soil, and clear it of rocks, weeds, and roots. Dig a bed 12-15 inches deep and twice the width of the root ball you’re working with. If the sedum variety permits, add a layer of compost two to four inches deep. Place the root ball in the bed, and fill with soil. Press the soil and water.
Sedum roots easily from cuttings in the summer. Just place a cutting in the ground, and it should take root in an environment with sunshine and well-drained soil.
Caring for Sedum
Sedum is known as a low-maintenance plant. Keep an eye on it, and water as necessary, taking care not to saturate the soil. Flopping stems signal an excess of water. Cut back on watering, or add sand to your soil to control the moisture level.
Sedum can be divided to control its spread. New plants will take root easily after dividing. Dig up the root with a shovel, starting several inches away from the its base. With a sharp knife, divide the root into four- to six-inch sections and plant the divisions individually. The new plants will need water as they take root. You can reduce watering when new growth appears. Learn more about dividing sedum in this article.
Common Pests and Diseases
Sedum is generally resistant to pests, though mealybugs, snails, slugs, and scale insects may take interest in the plant. The most common threat to sedum is excessive moisture. Extended rains or overwatering can lead to an accumulation of moisture, causing rot, mold, or fungus. Read more about moisture and sedum by following this link.
Varieties of Sedum
There are more than 400 varieties of sedum. All are leaf succulents, although the low-lying creeping varieties are more easily identifiable as succulents. Following are popular species of both types of sedum.
- Sedum ‘Tricolor’ is variegated with green, white, and pink hues in its leaves. It requires full sun and grows up to four inches tall in zones three through nine.
- Sedum ‘Angelina’ is bright green and turns orange in the fall. It grows up to four inches tall in zones six through nine and requires full sun.
- Sedum ‘Dragon’s Blood’ is an evergreen succulent with purple leaves and pink blooms. It requires full sun and grows up to four inches tall in zones four through nine.
- Sedum ‘Ogon’ grows up to three inches tall, tolerates partial shade, and grows in zones six through nine.
- Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is an upright sedum that blooms late summer to fall in zones three through eight. It tolerates full sun to partial shade.
- Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’ is an upright sedum with vivid reddish-purple blooms. It grows up to 15 inches tall in zones three through seven and requires full sun.
- Sedum ‘Neon’ grows 14 to 18 inches high in zones three through eight in full sun. Full sun yields bright pink, showy blooms.
- Sedum “Lemonjade’ produces 18-inch lemon-lime blooms that turn peach when the temperature drops. It requires full sun and grows in zones three through nine.
Use sedum to incorporate natural beauty in your interior as well as outdoor gardens. A potted creeping sedum carries foliage indoors, and cut blooms from a clumping sedum add vivid color to a tabletop arrangement. Sedum brings beauty year-round and requires little effort for the reward.
Ashley Balcazar is a marketing consultant and freelance writer in Denton, Texas. Her work has appeared in The Dallas Morning News and online at CBSDFW.com and Examiner.com. She loves all things art, especially salsa dancing and wordsmithery.
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