How to Grow and Care for Sedum (Stonecrop)

sedum

Quick Overview

Plant Type: Perennial, annual
Family: Sedum - Stonecrops
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Watering: Low
Colors: Red, pink, yellow, white
Size: 6–24 in. tall, 12–24 in. wide
Hardiness Zones: 4-9
Soil Type: Chalk, Loam, Sand
Soil pH: Alkaline, neutral
Propagation: Stem cuttings or division
Toxicity: Non-toxic

If you live where it is sunny and like a garden full of low maintenance plants the sedum is for you. It is a succulent that comes in a wide range of heights, stunning colors, and forms. They have waxy fleshy leaves and flowers that bloom in late summer through fall. Plus, the pollinators love the rich nectar in their flowers!

Sedums, also known as stonecrop, are one of the hardiest drought-resistant plants. So, if you don’t have a green thumb, you can still be confident and add these beauties to your garden and watch them thrive. This strong plant can grow anywhere sunny. sedum is often used as ground cover or as a border for your landscape. Oh, and if you have a burn or scrape you can use the juice from the succulent leaves to aid in healing. They are robust, easy to care for, and pollinators flock to them.

Keep reading to get all the details about growing and enjoying your own variety of sedum.

About the Sedum

Sedum comes from the Latin word ‘sedo’, meaning ‘to sit’. They are found in Asia, Europe, North Africa, Europe, Mexico and few are native to North America. Go ahead and enjoy the vibrant, long lasting clusters of star shaped flowers. They will dazzle you from spring to autumn. For the rest of the year their foliage still enhances the garden with color. 

There are two main types of Sedum.

  • The first is creeping, which is often used for ground cover or cascading along a wall. Their stems grow along the ground forming mats of colorful foliage. These mats range in color from blue to copper and beyond.
  • The second main type is tall which have tight clumps of intriguing flowers. These are good for borders and pollinator gardens. Their stems grow 1 to 3 feet tall and you see bright flower clusters when they emerge in summer and fall. The two main types have hundreds of subtypes so there is quite a variety to choose from.
sedum

How to Grow Sedum

No matter your expertise in gardening, you can grow sedums. Plant them in a sunny area with well drained soil and they almost take care of themselves. Sedums are happy in ground or in a container. However, one piece of advice, planting in spring after the last frost but before the summer heat is best. 

Propagating your Sedum

If you have sedum in your garden and want more, it is easy. You can propagate sedum in two ways.

  1. The first way is stem cutting. It’s simple, trim about a 3 to 6 inch piece off a stem from a healthy plant and remove the leaves on the lower half. Plant the cut end wherever you want a new sedum to grow. Sedums are so hardy they often root even if they’re just lying on top of the soil. Although, planting them gives them a better chance at healthy growth.
  2. The second way to propagate is by dividing and replanting. If your plants are too big carefully dig up the sedum and be gentle pulling apart the roots to separate them into sections. Then, replant the sections ensuring the top of the root is level with the soil line. This will increase the strength of a healthy new plant. Divided sections will also be quick to take root. You can divide tall sedum every three to four years. Propagating is simple enough even for the amateur gardener.
sedum with butterfly

Varieties of Sedum

There are over 400 varieties of Sedum. You can see them here. Creeping Sedums are wildly variable. They are perfect to use as a ground cover along paths, in rock gardens, or cascading down a stone wall to add some color. Corsican sedum have star shaped flowers that grow in early summer. Then its leaves turn purple in winter. ‘Brilliant’ sedum adorns true pink flowers compared to the other varieties. “Black jack’ has deep burgundy or almost black foliage.

Tall sedums are approximately 1 to 3 feet in height. Their flowers bloom in tight groupings or clumps. Height and captivating flowers make them good candidates for your border gardens. Tall sedums were traditionally grown for their symmetry and vibrant colorful flowers.

Common colors included copper, mauve, and dark purple. ‘Pool Party’ has silvery blue foliage and large pink flowers that attract butterflies. A rarity is an intermediate sedum whose height is between the creeping and tall variety. An example is Ussuriense. If you want a garden full of variety and is easy to care, sedums are a good choice.  Plus, they are beloved by pollinators!

sedum

General Care for Sedum

Watering Your Sedum

Do you forget to water or need low maintenance plants? If so, sedums are the perfect plants for you to add to your garden. They are drought tolerant with thick succulent leaves and usually only need extra water if there is an extended period of no rain. Tall sedums grow larger and more abundant when you water them weekly but will still grow if you don’t. They will just fill out less and grow at a slower pace or even look spindly. Creeping sedums are resilient in super dry conditions. So if you are not sure if it is time water, err on the side of conservation and wait. Overwatering can hurt the plants more than not watering.

Pruning

If you don’t like getting in the garden and pruning there is another reason to choose the sedum. Very little or no pruning is needed. If your creeping sedums grow farther than you want you can prune them back as needed. You can also prune the top of your tall sedums to control the height but this will delay the onset of flowering. Try Leaving the dried stems and flowers of tall sedums during autumn and early winter, even when dead. They look fantastic when frost coats them and it won’t hurt them. A general guideline is prune based on preference.

Fertilizing

It keeps getting easier. Sedums prefer no additional fertilizer and grow well even in nutrient poor soil. In fact, if the soil is too rich, this can cause weak, spindly growth. If your soil is extremely poor, mixing some organic compost into it will generally be enough for your sedum. Chemical fertilizer can stretch and flop your plants so avoid it. This reiterates the simplicity of growing a sedum.

sedum

The Right Soil for Sedum

sedums thrive in well drained soil and do not like sitting in water. Your creeping and tall sedums will rot in standing water. They are happiest in raised beds, on hillside slopes, sandy soil, rock gardens, crevice gardens, containers, and green roofs. They are not picky about the type of soil. Although overly rich soil promotes spindly growth and tall sedum becomes top heavy. Since these plants grow well in a variety of soils they are a good choice for most gardeners in any dry location.

What Light Does Your Sedum Need?

Almost all varieties of sedums prefer full sun, about six hours of direct sunlight most days. They tolerate shade but will not thrive in excessive shade. There are a few types that like dappled sun, such as sedum ternatum which is a woodland plant that likes to grow on top of rocks. Indoor sedums need to be kept near a sunny window or under artificial light. If you have sunny, dry weather your plants will be happy.

Climate

In general, sedums tolerate a wide range of temperatures, from below freezing to hot.  Although temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit can scorch their leaves. Sedum plants also usually handle humidity well. Keep in mind if you live in humid weather ensure the soil is well drained so the plant does not sit in the water.

flower with bee

Sedum Potential Diseases

Disease and pests are rare but can happen on your sedum plant. Keep the soil well drained and the plants separated enough to prevent overcrowding. Otherwise, you might encounter rot, mealybugs, or other scale insects. Snails and slugs can also get to your plants outdoors but you can control them with ease. Sedums are hardy but location and density need to be considered when you plant them.

Fun Facts

They are known as the “butterflies’ friend” and it is common to see many of them on one plant because the flowers are so full of nectar. So, if you like pollinators, definitely add sedums to your garden. It is a top 10 plant for attracting butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and the like.  A good place to plant your sedum is where you can sit, relax and watch nature work its magic.

Takeaways

If you want a pretty landscape or garden but are not an attentive gardener a sedum plant is a nice addition. With extensive varieties and colors you can include many types in your space. Their strength and low maintenance needs make them an easy choice. All you need is lots of sun and well drained soil for these plants to grow. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the buzzing of the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

If you have any questions about growing a sedum, please ask them in the comments below. Be sure to share this article with your fellow gardeners, especially someone who wants more color in their yard but is far from an expert or does not have a lot of time.