Stonecrop, better known as sedum, is perfect for you if you’re looking for a low-maintenance flowering plant that can add some color and texture to your garden. Their unique foliage and flowers make sedums look stunning throughout the growing season.
These hardy perennials are perfect for any level of gardener – whether you have a green thumb or are just starting out. They’re suitable for ground cover, mass planting, and edging and make long-lasting cut flowers that even butterflies, bees, and other pollinators can’t resist!
I have seen their remarkable resilience and observed their growth in various environments over the years. There’s something truly captivating about their ability to thrive under the scorching sun, transforming even the driest patches of soil into vibrant, living tapestries.
These resilient plants are perfect for rock gardens, containers, or even green roofs, as they can tolerate harsh conditions and dry soil. What’s best is that sedums are also great for xeriscaping, which is a style of landscaping that uses drought-tolerant plants to conserve water.
I’ve personally planted them in rock gardens, where their low-growing varieties create a stunning mosaic of colors and textures and even watched them grace containers and green roofs, where they bring life and beauty to even the most unconventional spaces.
This hardy perennial plant is perfect for gardeners of all skill levels since it requires very little care once established. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, sedum is a great choice for your garden or landscape! Read on to learn exactly how to plant, grow, and care for it.
Botanical Name: Sedum spp.
Common Name: Sedum, stonecrop, border stonecrop, showy stonecrop
Plant Type: Perennial
Hardiness Zones: 3 – 10 (USDA)
Sun Exposure: Full, partial sun
Soil Type: Sandy, loamy, well-drained
Soil pH: 6.0 – 7.0 (Acidic, neutral)
Height: 6 – 24 inches
Bloom Time: Summer, fall
Flower Colors: Red, pink, yellow, white
Native Area: South America, Central America, North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Mediterranean
Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Caring for Stonecrop
- Stonecrops are perfect for gardeners of all skill levels since it requires very little care once established.
- These resilient plants are perfect for rock gardens, containers, or even green roofs, as they can tolerate harsh conditions and dry soil.
- Most stonecrop plants grow best in full sun, receiving at least five to six hours of direct sunlight daily.
- While sedum is drought-tolerant, it is important to water your young plants regularly during the first year after planting to help them establish their roots and prevent the soil from drying out.
Stonecrop is a large genus of flowering plants found on almost every continent. These plants come in a variety of forms, colors, and heights. Also known as sedums, most stonecrop are drought-tolerant succulents with fleshy leaves that vary in shades; they typically have small star-shaped flowers that boom late in the growing season.
The sedum genus is generally divided into two categories: upright sedum and low-growing sedum. Upright sedum forms vertical clumps and looks beautiful in garden beds and along borders, whereas low-growing species stay short and spread.
The best time to plant stonecrop is in spring after the frost danger has passed and before the summer heat arrives. Stonecrop generally has a moderate growth rate, but it depends on the specie variety.
Sedums are incredibly low-maintenance. Place them where they have adequate sunlight and good soil drainage, and they’ll practically care for themselves. They do not need deadheading and look good even into winter (most of the time).
However, a lack of sunlight and extreme heat can cause stonecrop plants to get slightly leggy. Cutting them back after they’re done flowering can help maintain a healthy shape and encourage sturdier and bushier growth
Most stonecrop plants grow best in full sun, receiving at least five to six hours of direct sunlight daily. Some sedum varieties can tolerate partial shade, though they probably won’t bloom or be as sturdy. However, in dry and very hot conditions, several stonecrop varieties do appreciate a bit of afternoon shade.
Sedum plants prefer loose, sandy, loamy, or gravelly soil with good drainage, in general. When the soil retains a lot of water, it can easily lead to root rot or fungal diseases.
If you are planting sedum in a container, be sure to use a high-quality potting mix that is specifically formulated for succulent plants. This will provide the proper drainage and nutrients that your sedum needs to thrive in a container.
While sedum is drought-tolerant, it is important to water your young plants regularly during the first year after planting to help them establish their roots and prevent the soil from drying out. This will give your stonecrops a good start that will help keep them healthy for years to come.
Once established, these plants typically will only need supplemental water if you go a long time with very hot temperatures or without rainfall. Thanks to their thick leaves, sedums are drought-tolerant plants.
One way to help conserve water and keep your sedum plants healthy is to lightly mulch around the base of the plants. Mulch will help to retain moisture in the soil and also suppress weeds, which can compete with your sedum for water and nutrients.
Temperature and Humidity
Several sedum species are distributed worldwide, so they can grow in different temperature ranges.
As a genus, sedum plants can generally grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-10, but the exact zones can vary between species. Some sedum varieties are more cold-hardy than others, so be sure to choose a variety that is well-suited for your area.
Sedums do not like excessive humidity or wetness. Given their tolerance for dry soil and heat, they prefer warm and dry conditions over humid and cool conditions. However, sedum plants are tough so they can make it in less-than-ideal conditions.
If you live in an area with high humidity, you may want to choose a sedum variety that is more tolerant of moisture.
Sedum does not require supplemental fertilizer, but it can benefit from a light application of a balanced fertilizer in the spring. But make sure to follow the package instructions carefully to avoid over-fertilizing your sedum, which can cause the plants to become leggy and weak.
Other than removing diseased or broken stems, stonecrop plants only require a little pruning. In cooler climates, the sedum plants that die back in the winter benefit from removing all the dead parts in the early spring to make room for new growth.
If your stonecrop looks leggy or grows taller than you prefer, pinch off the stem at a growth point in early summer to create a fuller plant.
Types of Stonecrops
There are over 400 types of sedum, ranging in size from groundcovers to tall spikes. These plants are known for their succulent leaves, which store water and allow them to survive in dry conditions. Many hybrids and species have been moved from the Sedum genus to other genera.
However, since they’re still referred to as sedums by some home gardeners and nurseries, they are included in this popular varieties list:
- Autumn Joy stonecrop (Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbstfreude’): This is one of the most commonly grown sedums, and it blooms during fall with rusty tiny rusty red or pink flowers. It grows up to 2 feet tall and prefers full sun and well-draining soil.
- Brilliant stonecrop (Hylotelephium spectabile ‘Brilliant’): This plant stands out with its pink blooms among other sedum flowers.
- Black Jack stonecrop (Hylotelephium spectabile ‘Black Jack’): This patented hybrid has deep burgundy, almost black foliage, and robust, compact upright growth habit.
- Soft Cloud stonecrop (Hylotelephium’ Soft Cloud’) This patent hybrid grows in gray-green foliage mounds and blooms in the late summer with a light pink color before turning to a deeper red.
- Blue Spruce stonecrop (Sedum reflexum ‘Blue Spruce”): This is one of the best low-maintenance sedums. This sedum variety has blue-green leaves that resemble the needles of a blue spruce tree. It produces yellow flowers in summer and grows up to 6 inches tall and prefers full sun and well-draining soil.
- Vera Jamison stonecrop (Sedum telephium ‘Vera Jameson’): This hybrid plant has mauve flowers, burgundy leaves, and a trailing growth habit. It produces pink flowers in late summer and grows up to 1 foot tall.
- Angelina stonecrop (Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’): This plant is a low-growing groundcover sedum that features beautiful yellow flowers. This plant is often used as a groundcover or in rock gardens.
- Dragon’s Blood sedum (Sedum spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’): This sedum variety has dark red leaves that turn reddish-bronze in fall. It produces pink flowers in summer and grows up to 6 inches tall and also prefers full sun and well-draining soil.
How to Propagate Stonecrop
Propagating sedum is a great way to expand your garden without spending a lot of money. Sedums are hardy plants that can grow from seeds, stem cuttings, or by dividing the existing plant.
The best time to propagate sedums is in spring. If you’re looking to propagate your stonecrop, here are some easy steps to follow:
Step 1: Choose Your Method
There are two main ways to propagate stonecrop: stem cuttings and division. Stem cuttings are best taken in early spring or summer, while division is best done in early spring or fall. Choose the method that works best for you and your plant.
Step 2: Prepare Your Soil
Stonecrop prefers well-draining soil, so make sure your soil is loose and airy. You can add sand or perlite to your soil mixture to improve drainage. It’s also a good idea to add some organic matter, like compost or aged manure, to provide nutrients for your new plants.
Step 3: Take Your Cuttings
If you’re propagating stonecrop from stem cuttings, look for a healthy stem with several leaves. Use a sharp, clean pair of scissors or pruning shears to make a clean cut just below a leaf node. Remove the lower leaves from the stem, leaving only a few at the top.
Step 4: Plant Your Cuttings
Dip the cut end of your stem cutting in rooting hormone (optional) then plant it in your prepared soil. Make sure the soil is moist but not wet, and place your cutting in a bright, indirect light. Within a few weeks, you should see new growth which means the new plant is rooting.
Step 5: Divide Your Plants
If you’re propagating stonecrop by division, dig up your plant and gently separate the roots into smaller clumps. Make sure each clump has several healthy stems and roots. Replant your new clumps in your prepared soil, making sure they are at the same depth as they were before.
With these easy steps, you can propagate your stonecrop and enjoy even more of these beautiful and hardy plants in your garden.
How to Pot or Repot Stonecrop
Sedums have shallow roots which makes them a great plant for pots. When potting or repotting your sedum, it is important to choose the right soil mix. A well-draining soil mix, such as a cactus or succulent mix, is ideal for sedum. This type of soil mix allows excess water to drain away from the roots, which helps prevent root rot.
Before planting your sedum, make sure your pot has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. This will help prevent water from pooling at the bottom of the pot and causing root rot.
When choosing a pot for your sedum, keep in mind that sedum prefers to be slightly root-bound. This means that you should choose a pot size that is only slightly larger than the previous pot. Repotting should be done every 2-3 years, using a fresh soil mix and pot size that is slightly larger than the previous pot.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases for Stonecrop
Sedum, also known as stonecrop, is a versatile and hardy plant that is relatively resistant to pests and diseases. However, there are a few things to watch out for to keep your sedum plants healthy and thriving.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when growing sedum is to ensure proper drainage. Sedum plants are susceptible to root rot, which can occur if the soil is too wet or if the drainage is poor.
If your sedum starts to wilt and die, it may be a sign of root rot. To prevent this, make sure your sedum is planted in well-draining soil, and avoid overwatering
Aphids and mealybugs are common pests that can suck the sap from your sedum plants, causing them to weaken and become more susceptible to diseases.
These pests can be controlled using insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils. It’s important to catch infestations early and treat them promptly to prevent damage to your sedum plants.
Snails and slugs can also affect your stonecrops. While snails have shells and slugs don’t, they are both mollusks that share numerous similarities. They’re mostly active on foggy or cloudy days. Picking out these insects with a gloved hand is the most effective way to eliminate them.
Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that can appear on sedum leaves if the humidity level is too high. To prevent powdery mildew, make sure there is good airflow around your sedum plants, and avoid watering the leaves. If you do notice powdery mildew on your sedum, you can treat it with a fungicide or by removing the affected leaves.
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Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa’s work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.