Sedum, stonecrop

FAMILY: Crassulaceae | GENUS: SEDUM

  • Perennials
  • Succulents
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
  • Drought Tolerant
  • Moderate Water
  • US (Upper South) / Zone 6
  • MS (Middle South) / Zone 7
  • LS (Lower South) / Zone 8

Plant Details

Mostly ground cover-scale succulents that grow nicely in the spaces between rocks (thus, stonecrop), sedums are native to many parts of the world. Some are quite hardy to cold, others fairly tender; some are tiny and trailing, others much larger and upright. Fleshy leaves are evergreen (unless otherwise noted) but highly variable in size, shape, and color. Typically small, star-shaped flowers, sometimes brightly colored, are usually borne in fairly large clusters.

Smaller sedums are useful in rock gardens, as ground or bank covers, in small areas where unusual texture is needed. Some are prized by collectors of succulents, who grow them in pots, dish gardens, or miniature gardens. Larger types are good in borders or containers. Most sedums are easy to propagate by stem cuttings; even detached leaves will root and form new plants. Soft and easily crushed, they will not take foot traffic, but they are otherwise tough, low-maintenance plants. Low-growing types often escape damage by browsing deer.

S. acre. GOLDMOSS SEDUM. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to Europe, North Africa, Turkey. To 25 in. high, with upright branchlets rising from trailing, rooting stems. Light green leaves only 14 in. long; clustered yellow flowers in spring. This old favorite is extremely hardy but can get out of bounds and become a weed. Use as ground cover (set plants 1112 ft. apart), between stepping stones, or in chinks of dry walls.

S. album. WHITE SEDUM. From Europe, Siberia, western Asia, North Africa. Creeping plant to 26 in. high, with 12-in.-long, light to medium green, sometimes red-tinted leaves. White or pinkish summer flowers. Plant 1112 ft. apart for ground cover. This species will root from the smallest fragment, so beware of planting it near choice, delicate rock garden plants. 'Coral Carpet' has new growth that emerges salmon-orange, matures to bright green, and turns reddish-bronze in winter. Pale pink flowers.

S. anglicum. ENGLISH STONECROP. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. From western Europe. Low, spreading plant 24 in. high. Dark green leaves are tiny, to just 18 in. long. Pinkish or white flowers appear in spring. For ground cover, set plants 912 in. apart.

S. 'Autumn Joy'. See S. Herbstfreude group.

S. brevifolium. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to the Mediterranean region. Grows just 23 in. high, slowly spreading to 1 ft. wide. Gray-white, red-flushed leaves are tiny (less than 18 in. long), tightly packed on stems. Pinkish or white summer flowers. Needs acid soil and good drainage. Best in rock gardens or with larger succulents in containers, miniature gardens. Requires perfect drainage. Sunburns in hot, dry places.

S. cauticola. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to Japan. Slowly forms a mound 46 in. high, 1112 ft. wide. Blue-gray, slightly toothed, 1-in. leaves. Clusters of rose-red flowers top stems in late summer or early fall. Dies to ground in winter.

S. confusum. MEXICAN STONECROP. Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9. Native to Mexico. Spreading, branching plant grows 618 in. high and wide. Shiny, dark green, 34- to 112-in.-long leaves tend to cluster in rosettes toward branch ends. Dense clusters of yellow flowers in spring. Makes a good ground cover but is sometimes plagued by dieback in wet soils, hot weather; it looks best during cooler weather. Use in borders or containers, as edging. A similar, smaller plant with light green leaves is the closely related S. kimnachii.

S. dasyphyllum. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to the Mediterranean region. Forms a low (112- to 412-in.-high) mat that spreads to 1 ft. or wider. Gray-green, 18- to 14-in. leaves are densely packed on stems. Blooms in summer, bearing white flowers with pink streaks. Pink-blossomed 'Riffense' has silver-gray leaves that are especially plump and succulent. Partial shade.

S. dendroideum. TREE SEDUM. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Native to Mexico. Branching plant to 3 ft. tall and wide. Rounded leaves to 2 in. long are yellow-green, often bronze tinted. Deep yellow flowers in spring and summer. For the plant sometimes sold as S. d. praealtum, see S. praealtum.

S. erythrostictum 'Frosty Morn'. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Resembles S. 'Autumn Joy', but the light blue-green leaves are boldly outlined in creamy white. Blooms in late summer, bearing large clusters of flowers that are white in hot climates, pale pink in cooler ones. Dies down in winter. Excellent for rock gardens, edgings.

S. forsterianum. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. From western Europe, British Isles. To 8 in. high, 10 in. wide, with rounded rosettes of blue-green, needlelike leaves and yellow flowers. Tolerates heat, humidity, and poor soils. 'Oracle' is a top selection.

S. Herbstfreude group. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Hybrids of S. telephium and S. spectabile. To 12 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide, with green leaves to 23 in. long and about as wide. Rounded clusters of blossoms are pink when they open in late summer or autumn, age later to coppery pink and finally to rust. Good cut flowers. All die down in winter.

'Autumn Charm' ('Lajos'). White-edged leaves on 16-in. plants; light pink flowers.

'Autumn Delight' ('Beka'). Golden green leaves with darker edges on 18- to 24-in. plants; dusty pink flowers.

'Autumn Fire'. Green leaves and dusty pink flowers on 18- to 24-in. plants.

'Autumn Joy' ('Herbstfreude'). Green leaves. Rounded clusters of blossoms are pink when they open in late summer or autumn, later age to coppery pink and finally to rust.

'Elsie's Gold'. Golden green leaves with cream edges; shell-pink flowers.

'Frosted Fire'. Resembles 'Autumn Fire' but with leaves edged in creamy yellow.

'Mini Joy'. Similar to 'Autumn Joy' but a few inches shorter and with salmon-pink flowers.

S. kamtschaticum. Native to Korea, Japan. Variable species to 412 in. high, 2 ft. wide, with trailing stems set with thick, somewhat triangular, 1- to 112-in., medium green leaves, toothed on the upper third. Summer flowers open yellow, age to red. Useful in colder climates as a rock garden plant or small-space ground cover (set plants 1 ft. apart). 'Sweet and Sour' has leaves that emerge nearly white, then age to green with a yellow edge. 'Variegatum' has cream-edged leaves. S. k. ellacombianum (sometimes sold as S. ellacombianum) is a shorter plant (46 in. high) with more compact growth, unbranched stems, and brighter green leaves. S. k. floriferum (sometimes sold as S. floriferum) is a more profuse bloomer with smaller flowers in a lighter yellow; its selection 'Weihenstephaner Gold' has abundant golden yellow blossoms that turn orange with age.

S. lineare. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to China, Japan. To 4 in. high. Trailing, rooting stems to 1 ft. long are closely set with narrow, inch-long, light green leaves. Loads of yellow flowers in late spring, early summer. For ground cover, set plants 1112 ft. apart. 'Sea Urchin' has long, narrow, light green leaves; spreads to 3 ft. wide. 'Variegatum', with white-edged leaves, is often grown in containers.

S. makinoi. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to Japan. Prostrate or trailing plant with small, plump leaves and yellow flowers. 'Ogon' has rounded, golden leaves. 'Limelight' has lime-green leaves. 'Salsa Verde' has deep green leaves. All thrive in shade in rocky soil with regular water.

S. 'Matrona'. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. To 2212 ft. high and 1218 in. wide, with rose-edged, gray-green leaves that age to grayish brown (retaining the pink edge); large heads of pink flowers appear on red stems.

S. morganianum. DONKEY TAIL, BURRO TAIL. Zone TS; USDA 10-11; or houseplant. From Mexico. Produces long, trailing stems that reach 34 ft. in 6 to 8 years. Thick, 34-in.-long, light gray-green leaves overlap each other along stems to form braided-looking tails less than 1 in. thick. Pink to deep red flowers may appear from spring to summer but are only rarely seen. Similar relatives include S. burrito (S. 'Burro'), with fatter (1-in.-thick) tails composed of densely packed, 12-in. leaves; and giant donkey tail (sometimes sold as S. orpetii), with somewhat shorter, thicker tails.

Because of their long stems, all of these are best grown in a hanging basket or wall pot; or try them spilling from the top of a wall or in a rock garden. Provide rich, fast-draining soil (such as a half-and-half mixture of sand and potting soil). Protect from wind and give partial shade. Indoors, site in a south-facing window. Allow soil to become quite dry between thorough waterings, and feed in spring and summer with a general- purpose liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half-strength. Reduce watering and cease feeding in winter.

S. oxypetalum. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Native to Mexico. To 3 ft. tall (usually much less) and 112 ft. wide. Even when tiny, the plant has the look of a gnarled tree. Narrow, 1- to 112-in.-long, olive-green leaves; dull red, aromatic summer flowers. Evergreen or semievergreen in mildest areas; deciduous elsewhere. Handsome container plant.

S. praealtum. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-11. Native to Mexico. Similar to S. dendroideum (and sometimes sold as S. d. praealtum) but has a wider spread and is less treelike (to 5 ft. high and wide), with greener leaves and lighter yellow flowers. Blooms in spring and summer.

S. x rubrotinctum. PORK AND BEANS. Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11. Thought to be native to Mexico. Sometimes sold as S. guatemalense. Sprawling, leaning, 6- to 8-in. stems are set with 34-in. leaves that look like jelly beans; they are green with reddish brown tips, often entirely bronze-red in sun. Leaves detach easily and root readily. Yellow spring flowers. Grow in rock garden, in pots, or as a small-space ground cover (set plants 810 in. apart). Leaves of 'Aurora' are bright pink.

S. rupestre (S. reflexum). Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to Europe. Spreading, creeping plant to 4 in. high, 12 ft. wide. Narrow, light blue-gray leaves to 1 in. long are closely set on stems; yellow summer flowers. Spreads freely; plant 912 in. apart for ground cover. 'Angelina' is an excellent golden-leaved form. 'Blue Spruce' has needlelike foliage.

S. sediforme (S. altissimum). Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11. Mediterranean native. This spreading, creeping plant grows 46 in. high, 812 in. wide. Narrow, light blue-gray leaves to 112 in. long are closely set on stems. Small greenish white to light yellow flowers in summer. Use in rock garden, for blue-green effect in pattern planting, or as small-space ground cover (set plants 1 ft. apart).

S. sieboldii. Zones US, MS, LS, CS: USDA 6-9. Native to Japan. Low-growing plant just 4 in. high, 812 in. wide, with spreading, trailing, unbranched stems to 89 in. long. Blue-gray leaves with red edges are carried in threes; they are nearly round, stalkless, toothed along upper half. Plant turns coppery red in fall, dies to ground in winter. Each stem bears a broad, dense, flat cluster of dusty pink flowers in autumn. Leaves of 'Variegatum' have yellowish white markings. Species and selection are beautiful in rock gardens, hanging baskets. Light shade.

S. spathulifolium. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native from California's Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada north to British Columbia. Spoon-shaped, 12- to 1-in., blue-green leaves tinged with reddish purple are packed into rosettes on short, trailing stems; mounds reach 4 in. high. Light yellow flowers bloom in spring and summer. Use as ground cover (set plants 1112 ft. apart), in rock garden. Very drought tolerant. 'Cape Blanco' is a selected form with silvery white leaves. 'Purpureum' has deep purple foliage.

S. spectabile. SHOWY SEDUM. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to China, Korea. Long a favorite in Southern gardens. To 112 ft. tall and wide, with upright or slightly spreading stems thickly clothed in blue-green, roundish, 3-in. leaves. Dense, 6-in.-wide, dome-shaped flower clusters appear atop stems in late summer and fall; they open pink, mature to dark brown seed heads that put on a long-lasting show. Dies to ground in winter. Full sun. Moderate to regular water. 'Brilliant' has deep rose-red blossoms; its sport 'Neon' has bubble-gum-pink flowers in thicker, more rounded clusters. Other selections include 'Carmen', soft rose; 'Indian Chief', coppery red; 'Meteor', carmine-red; and 'Ruby Jewel', deep maroon.

'Class Act', a hybrid between 'Brilliant' and S. telephium, reaches 212 ft. tall and wide, with thick green leaves and pink flowers that age to dark purplish red. 'Mr Goodbud', another hybrid with the same parents, grows just 16 in. tall and 20 in. wide, with deep blue-green leaves and purple-pink flowers; its short stature and strong stems make it less likely to flop over. 'Birthday Party', a hybrid between 'Neon' and S. telephium, is compact at just 7 in. tall, 20 in. wide, with leaves tinted purplish brown; its large flower heads bear deep rose-pink blooms. Those same parents also produced the vigorous 'Chocolate Drop', about 8 in. tall and 14 in. wide, with red-brown leaves and dusky rose-pink blooms.

S. spurium. TWO-ROW SEDUM. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. From the Caucasus. Low-growing plant with trailing stems and dark green or bronze-tinted leaves just an inch or so long; spreads to 2 ft. or wider. In summer, pink flowers appear in dense clusters at ends of 4- to 5-in. stems. For rock garden, pattern planting, ground cover. 'Dragon's Blood' ('Schorbuser Blut') bears purplish bronze leaves, dark red blooms. Red-leafed selections include 'Red Carpet' (with red blossoms) and 'Fuldaglut' (with rosy pink flowers). 'John Creech' has small, scalloped green leaves and pink blossoms. Leaves of 'Tricolor' are variegated in green, creamy white, and pink; flowers are pink. 'Voodoo' has reddish leaves and red flowers.

S. telephium. LIVE-FOREVER SEDUM. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native from Europe eastward to Japan. Old favorite. To 2 ft. high, 12 ft. wide. Resembles S.spectabile but has gray-green, somewhat narrower leaves. Long-lasting floral display begins in late summer and fall; blossom clusters open purplish pink, age to brownish maroon. Plant dies to ground in winter. Plant in full sun (stems tend to flop in shaded sites). Moderate to regular water.

Desert series. Compact and vigorous. 'Desert Black' (very dark purple leaves, rose-pink flowers) and 'Desert Blonde' (blue-green leaves, creamy yellow flowers) reach about 8 in. tall and 11 in. wide. 'Desert Red' (blue-green leaves, deep pink flowers) is just 6 in. high, 11. in. wide.

'Mhrchen'. Grows 2 ft. high, 112 ft. wide, with purple new growth and rosy pink flowers.

'Picolette'. To 15 in. high and wide; bronze-red foliage, pink flowers.

'Postman's Pride'. To 2 ft. high and wide, with small, deep purple leaves and pinkish red flowers that mature to burgundy.

'Purple Emperor'. Grows 18 in. high and wide, with dark purple foliage and dusty pink blooms.

'Red Cauli'. To 15 in. high and wide. Purple-tinted, gray-green leaves; red flowers.

'Strawberries and Cream'. To 1 ft. high, 112 ft. wide. Purple-tinted green leaves; green-centered white flowers.

'Xenox'. Grows 14 in. high and 18 in. wide, with mauve-green foliage that matures to burgundy-purple. Pink flowers.

'Yellow Xenox'. Grows 16 in. high, 20 in. wide, with dark foliage and yellow flowers.

S. ternatum. MOUNTAIN SEDUM. Native to moist, open woodlands in eastern U.S. Spreads by creeping stems to form large, low (3- to 6-in.-tall) mats of pretty foliage. The small, roundish, 12- to 1-in.-long leaves grow in whorls of three; they are pale green when new, aging to dark green. Blooms profusely in late spring and early summer, when 12-in. white flowers with purple-red stamens open along the stems. Thrives in moist soil with plenty of organic matter. Partial to full shade. 'Larinem Park' is compact and choice.

S. tetractinum. CHINESE SEDUM. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. From China. Cascading stems, loaded with flat, nearly round leaves 1234 in. across, form a clump 23 in. tall and 12 ft. wide. Leaves are bright glossy green, often with reddish margins; turn a rich reddish bronze in fall. In early summer, clusters of bright yellow flowers just above the foliage. 'Coral Reef' has rounded, rich green leaves that turn reddish bronze in winter.

S. 'Vera Jameson'. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. This popular hybrid grows 812 in. high and 112 ft. wide, with spreading purple stems clothed in pinkish purple leaves. Rose-pink flowers in late summer and fall. Dies to ground in winter.

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