The Hardy and Versatile Stonecrop
Sedum is one of the most well known genera of plants in cottage gardens, xeriscape gardens and commercial landscaping, with good reason.
called stonecrop or orpine, their reputation as an unflappable hardy
perennial plant is well deserved, as they will thrive in some of the
most challenging conditions we can throw at them.
Due to the botanists getting carried away and being unable to decide
where exactly each type of plant fits, it also goes by the Latin name of
Hylotelephium, generally in reference to the plants we know as Sedum
spectabile and telephium.
Gardeners aren’t the only ones to appreciate all that Sedum have to offer - butterflies and pollinators are very attracted to the nectar and pollen.
Interesting common names; this is an indication of just how long these plants have been grown and loved in our gardens;
Other odd names that this plant gets called are bittercress, welcome-home-husband-be-thee-ever-so-drunk, and live forever.
Biting Stonecrop, Prick Madam, Wall Ginger, Mousetail, Bird's Bread,
Jack-of-the-Buttery, Golden Carpet, Gold Chain, Small Houseleek, Mossy
Stonecrop, & Creeping Tom are also common names in various places to describe Sedum acre.
Sedum sarmentosum is known as Stringy or Trailing Stonecrop, because of the way it grows and Yellow Moss, Star Sedum or Gold Moss.
I plant lots of their favorite plants for butterfly food to attract them to the butterfly garden - the Sedum is a hands down winner in July and August as it comes into full bloom.
Origins of Sedum
Sedum can be found almost around the globe, wherever tough conditions are.
North America boasts several native Sedum species; Sedum lanceolatum,
S. integrifolium, which is also called S. roseum, and S. stenopetalum.
Sedum spathufolium and S. divergens are also native to high alpine and
Many lovely Sedum varieties and species have been tested in Europe on green roofs, and you can’t get much more difficult conditions than that.
Green roof Sedum varieties are the most willing to face drought, thin soil and harsh environments.
These are native to the high mountains and wild places across Europe, including the Balkan Mountains and the Carpathians.
with many other favorite garden plants, interbreeding and hybridizing
has produced many superior forms with longer bloom time, stronger growth
habit and different colors than the species.
Gardeners through the years across many continents have used these
classic plants in sunny mixed borders alongside other drought tolerant
plants, along pathways and in rock gardens – then stood back to let them strut their stuff.
behaved and slow spreading they seldom wear out their welcome. If they
do, they’re easy to remove or prune to keep within bounds.
They are used with great success as a backbone plant for containers, troughs and Sedum tapestry beds where they fill in among other plants and trail over the edges to soften the planting.
species and varieties native to Europe and North America are in most
cases hardy to around Zone 3, depending on winter conditions.
Full sun exposure and great drainage are key to their success.
Many Sedum are deciduous, losing all or most of their leaves in the fall.
Some that fall into this category are Sedum spurium ‘Dragons Blood’ and Sedum cyaneum ‘Rose Carpet’ as well as one of my all time favorites, the exquisite Sedum pluricaule.
Others are evergreen, retaining the same leaves year after year such as most of the Sedum reflexum varieties such as ‘Angelina’ and ‘Blue Spruce’, as well as Sedum sexangulare and forsterianum.
Most of the Sedum for borders such as ’Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy and Sedum telephium ‘Purple Emperor’
are typically left standing after dormancy into the winter as the seed
heads are an interesting structure in the colder months.
They provide winter interest, attract birds and also capture snow and prevent it from blowing away.
Sedum for groundcovers reliably fill in gaps between taller plants, on slopes and banks for soil conservation and for non-stop seasonal interest, with textural differences, foliage and bloom colour throughout the summer and fall.
How to Grow Sedum
Sedum - along with most other types of plants with succulent foliage -
have the ability to survive long periods without irrigation or
Growing Sedum in a xeric garden forms the backbone
for groups of other types of plants which tend to go dormant under
stress, to give a presence and structure to the garden even during
Winter conditions are the most critical for Sedum – if high rainfall is
followed by freezing temperatures many Sedum will succumb, turning into
The best way to combat this threat is to
provide extremely good drainage so no water ever puddles at the crown of
the plant. Even if the leaves and smaller twigs die back, the crown of
the plant will live to sprout again.
Ideal conditions for Sedum are those found in raised beds where you can customize the drainage, particularly in clay soils.
a small amount of steer manure and a higher proportion of grit or
gravel when building the bed will provide the perfect situation.
The deciduous types will benefit from a haircut in the spring to remove
the dead twigs and boost new growth from around the crown.
Sedum for groundcovers
tend to get a bald spot around the crown without pruning to encourage
the new vigorous growth. It’s important to prune the dead stalks off
before new growth starts to emerge so you don’t damage the tender
I have used a weed whacker to take the dead flower heads off creeping
Sedum in the late summer, which shapes them nicely to start fresh in the
The border Sedum require cutting with shears or
pruners in the spring on a case by case basis, as the stems are too
tough for this cavalier treatment.
It’s not necessary to fertilize, as Sedum, along with many of their relatives prefer a lean soil.
fertilizing will lead to floppy weak growth and aphid infestations, as
well as making them less able to withstand drought.
A small amount of worm castings around the base of the plant, or a sprinkling of a weak solution of compost tea once a season will be perfectly adequate.
Mulch with river rock or lava rock to prevent soil erosion and provide a tiny amount of micro nutrients as the mulch weathers.
Avoid using organic mulches such as wood chips or bark, as they can retain too much moisture around the crown of the plant.
With so many types and varieties of Sedum to choose from, you’ll enjoy using these versatile and hardy plants to give your xeriscape garden a buffer against drought.
Find out more about Sedum below...
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unidenitfied pinkish leafy succlent plant
About the size of a quater, pinkish tinted leaves. growing zone 6, growing it indoors. its a succulent drought resistant plant. not sure of the name of …
Unknown Vancouver Sedum
Unknown Vancouver Sedum
Drought Smart Plants reply:
This is some type of Sedum spathufolium, which is a native to British Columbia and other areas …
Small chunky very old succulent passed from my grandmother (and possibly my great grandmother)to my father and now to me.
Goes red when the flowers …
I have found four or five of these most unusual plants on our property, growing wild on a creek bank in Tennessee.
They appear to be succulents, …
reminds me of a cat tail
It's green and has these thorn looking leaves sprouting upwards and it curls like a cats tail, do you know what it is?
Drought Smart Plants reply: …
tiny maroon succulent
tiny flowery type succulent. a bit viny. maroon colored ground cover.
Hi Katie, this is one of my favorite plants, and my stock in trade - Sedum, or …
This plant has over the last few weeks has spread along our roof guttering, and seems to be rooting in the gutter moss.
The plant is probably very …
Pink and yellow succulent found in Idaho mountains
picture attached. This plant was found in the mountains of Idaho above Riggins.
Drought Smart Plants reply:
Congratulations! You've found one of …
I just want to know what it is - was a gift and nobody can tell me what it is help me please.
Drought Smart Plants reply:
Hi Mary, you don't say …
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