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How to Care for a Sedum Plant!

Lovely succulent leaves of the sedum plant with maroon leaves

Genus Sedum

Welcome to the sedum genus! This is a huge family of flowering plant species (we’re talking over 600 species) of incredible leafy succulent plants. Largely grown as ornamentals, there are so many diverse kinds of sedum plants that can suit an indoor or outdoor setting.

More commonly known as stonecrop plants, sedum plants are members of the crassulaceaea botanical family. Gardeners love them for rock garden planting, for hanging baskets, and as a ground cover plant. They’re also amazing for green roof planting!

Stonecrop plants are capable of growing in all sorts of different biomes and are wonderfully low maintenance to boot! Easy propagation, lovely flowers, succulent foliage, what else could you want in a plant?!

What do Sedum Plants Look Like?

Growth Habit

With so many different species within the genus, sedum plants are bound to have growth habits. They come into two different sedum varieties: low growing sedum and upright sedum.

Low growing sedum only grows to be a few inches tall and tends to spread out quite far in a creeping and spreading habit. Many species are quite tough and can even handle some light foot traffic. This makes them perfect for rock gardens, ground cover, or even to cascade over a stone wall or in a hanging basket.

Upright sedum grows in upright clumps that grow from more stiff stems. They can grow to be over 20 inches tall but don’t spread as far as the other variety. their growth habit makes them great for containers, as border plants, and for butterfly gardens.

Incredible sedum plant with long tails growing in a green garden

Leaves

Sedum plants bear evergreen succulent foliage. This means that the leaves remain green all year long and remain on the plant regardless of the temperature.

Succulent leaves are characteristic of plants that live in really dry areas. Their fleshy leaves allow the plants store a ton of moisture which sustains them through extended periods of drought.

The leaf shape and color will vary between the species, but they are all more three dimensional in nature and grow in whorls around a stem. Leaf color is more commonly a very light blue/green, but some will have darker green leaves.

Flowers

Accompanying their wonderful succulent leaves, sedum plants have a pretty amazing display of summer flowers as well. Sedum flowers usually bloom in the early summer and last all the way through to late fall.

Each individual sedum flower is quite small and is comprised of 5 flower petals and twice as many stamens. They are usually borne in huge flat head clusters of tiny flowers, creating quite the display.

The flower color will also vary according to the sedum species, but they will come in colors and shades ranging between red, orange, yellow, pink, and white.

What are some Notable Sedum Species and Cultivars?

Lovely sedum hybrid with red blooming flowers growing in a garden

Caucasian Stonecrop (Sedum Spurium)

The caucasian stonecrop is also known as the two row stonecrop and this is a low spreading, evergreen perennial variety that gardeners love because it is super cold hardy.

Sedum spurium can be identified by its fleshy leaves that grow alternately on creeping stems. It has bright pink flowers that bloom in the early spring and last for several months! A super popular cultivar is called ‘John Creech’

Blue Spruce Stonecrop (Sedum Reflexum)

The blue spruce stonecrop is a mat forming plant with evergreen leaves. It loves to grow in hot and dry locations and it’s a perfect replacement for lawns in areas that are too dry to grow grass.

Sedum reflexum is known for having needle-like leaves that are similar to that of a spruce tree! They are blue/green and store all sorts of moisture. These creeping sedums grow yellow flower clusters with each flower being star shaped.

Woodland Stonecrop (Sedum Ternatum)

The woodland stonecrop is also known as the wild stonecrop and this is an evergreen perennial plant that is known to love growing in between rocks and crevices.

Sedum ternatum is one of the taller varieties that has a single flowering branch around 10 inches tall that holds white flowers. It grows light green leaves that grow in alternate whorls along stems.

Frosty Morn (Sedum Erythrostictum)

The frosty morn is one of the most stunning of the sedum species. This succulent perennial plant is perfect for both indoor and outdoor planting and it’s not a specimen you are likely to forget.

Sedum erthrostictum can be identified by its light green leaves with vivid cream colored markings along them. Their flowers are of a similar quality with cream petals and pink markings.

This is more of an erect, tall sedum specimen rather than sprawling and will usually obtain a height of 15 inches with a spread of around 12 inches.

Beautiful donkey tail sedum plant blooming with pink flowers

Donkey Tail (Sedum Morganianum)

Also known as burro’s tail, the donkey tail sedum is an incredible succulent perennial that is basically the poster child for the trailing and creeping sedum variety.

Sedum morganianum can be identified by its trailing stems that can grow to be over 24 inches long. Along these stems grow amazing blue/green leaves arranged in whorls which are accompanied by pink to red flowers that bloom in the summer.

Their growth habit makes them look kind of similar to tails, which makes them perfect for tall containers, for hanging baskets, and to have trail down a large stone wall.

Coral Reef Sedum (Sedum Tetractinum)

The coral reef sedum is a carpeting variety of sedum plant that is perfect for rock gardens or to substitute lawn grass because it can tolerate some light occasional foot traffic!

Sedum tetractinum can be identified by evergreen leaves that start out green and eventually turn to a red/bronze color in the winter time. They also grow yellow flower clusters that are shaped like starts and appear in the summer.

Autumn Joy Sedum Cultivar

The autumn joy sedum is a very popular cultivar that is a hybrid of sedum telephium and hylotelephium spectabile, which is a species of ice plant!

The autumn joy sedum can be identified by its gray/green round succulent leaves accompanied by tiny pink flowers that come in huge clusters and bloom in the late summer.

Autumn Fire Sedum Cultivar

The autumn fire sedum plant is known as being the “new and improved” version of the autumn joy. This is a taller perennial plant that grows to be around 24 inches tall and about 15-18 inches wide.

Autumn fire looks very similar to autumn joy but it just has larger flower heads, it blooms for longer, and it has larger foliage! They have rose pink flowers that bloom all through the summer and fall.

Where is Sedum a Native Plant?

Gorgeous ground cover sedum plant with rosettes of evergreen leaves

Something great about sedum plants is the fact that can grow pretty much anywhere. They are present all throughout the northern hemisphere and their range is slowly extending into the southern hemisphere as well. They grow prosperously in North America too!

This makes mimicking their natural growing range rather easy, since they can handle subtropical, tropical, and temperate regions. Their most diverse growing ranges occur in the Mediterranean basin, Central America, the Himalayas, and eastern Asia.

Gardeners love these plants because they are both cold hardy and tolerant of heat. They can happily grow outdoors all year long in USDA growing zones 3 through 10, but should be brought indoors for the colder months of the year outside of those zones.

What are the Ideal Growing Conditions of Sedum Plants?

The natural next step on our journey is to teach you all about the ideal growing conditions for a sedum plant. I’ll let you in on a little secret: they don’t really have any.

Sedum plants are tolerant of all sorts of harsh conditions and once they are planted they require very little maintenance from you. Here are some guidelines on how to keep them happy:

Amazing succulent garden with evergreen leaves

Soil Type

Sedum plants will pretty much grow happily in any soil type that you throw it in, but it can have certain characteristics that will help keep it as happy as possible.

The first feature is that the soil mix should be very well draining. This is important because these plants are rather susceptible to root rot and do not like having wet feet.

Second, sedum plants don’t do too great in soil that is too rich in nutrients. This can cause them to grow too quickly and too tall which can cause their stems to snap! It is best that they’re planted in poor soil that is sandy, as this soil type is the perfect level of nutrients with great drainage.

Water Level

Watering your sedum plant will not take up any time in your day. If you know anything about succulents, you know that they don’t need to be watered very often.

The leaves will actually tell you when it’s time for the plant to be watered. If the leaves start to wilt and shrivel up, all you need to do is give it a tad bit of water and it will plump back up.

As the plant is first getting established it will need a nice moisture level, but once it is properly introduced to an area it is super drought tolerant and will only need supplemental watering if there is an extended period of drought.

Sun Exposure

If you know anything about the care of a succulent plant, you know that they are a sun loving plant type. It is best that they’re planted in an area that receives direct sunlight for a minimum of 6-8 hours per day.

There are certain varieties that are able to tolerate short amounts of partial shade, but this can result in soil not drying out properly, and can also result in a less enthusiastic flowering period.

Gorgeous sedum succulent growing atop a big boulder in the sun

Temperature

One of the cool things about sedum plants is the fact that they are tolerant to both very hot temperatures and very cold temperatures – this is very characteristic of plants that come from the desert.

Sedum plants can grow happily outdoors all year long in USDA growing zones 3 through 10, but should be brought inside for the colder months outside of those zones.

Fertilizer

Here’s another super low maintenance aspect to sedum plants: you don’t need to fertilize them! As we mentioned before, planting them in soil that is too fertile encourages them to grow more quickly than they should!

Pruning

Pruning your sedum plant just revolves around how you want it to look — they don’t need to be pruned to remain healthy. Just snip away trails that are growing in directions you don’t want them to, or stems that appear as being a little bit sickly.

How do you Propagate a Sedum Plant?

Gardener transplanting sedum cuttings into terracotta pot

Now for the final step in your sedum plant journey: how to propagate a specimen of your very own. The easiest way to plant sedum is best done through transplanting a specimen that you purchase at a nursery or a garden centre. Here are some tips to get you going:

1. Wait until the spring to transplant your specimen. It is best to do it after the last threat of frost, but before the real heat of the summer starts to kick in.

2. Pick a spot on your property that receives direct sun exposure and soil that is well draining (incorporate some sand just to be sure).

3. Dig holes that are about 6-18 inches apart from one another. The right distance will depend on whether you have an upright sedum plant or a ground cover sedum plant. Dig the hole just deep enough so that the top of the root ball is even with the surface of the soil.

4. Fill in the gaps in the hole and tamp down slightly. Water just a little bit, and basically walk away! It will continue growing happily and all you have to do is wait for those gorgeous flower blossoms.

*you can also easily propagate through taking stem cuttings, but this is a far more lengthy process.

Happy Planting!

Amazing ornamental sedum plant with tons of long succulent leaves

FAQs

Are sedum plants deer resistant?

There are certain hybridized cultivars of sedum plants that have been bred to be resistant to grazing from larger pests like deer, rabbits, and squirrels. This is because a pure sedum species is not resistant to deer grazing.

How are sedum plants used?

The sedum genus is a huge family of flowering plant species (we’re talking over 600 species) of incredible leafy succulent plants. Largely grown as ornamentals, there are so many diverse kinds of sedum plants that can suit an indoor or outdoor setting.

More commonly known as stonecrop plants, sedum plants are members of the crassulaceaea botanical family. Gardeners love them for rock garden planting, for hanging baskets, and as a ground cover plant. They’re also amazing for green roof planting!

Can sedum plants survive winter temperatures?

One of the cool things about sedum plants is the fact that they are tolerant to both very hot temperatures and very cold temperatures – this is very characteristic of plants that come from the desert.

Sedum plants can grow happily outdoors all year long in USDA growing zones 3 through 10, but should be brought inside for the colder months outside of those zones.

Are sedum plants evergreen or deciduous?

Sedum plants bear evergreen succulent leaves. This means that they grow fleshy, thick leaves that can hold a ton of water to help them survive long, dry winters and other harsh conditions. Foliage will also stay on the plant all year long regardless of the time of year.

Can a sedum plant be grown indoors? Can a sedum plant be grown in a container?

A sedum plant can happily grown indoors as long as it is placed in a south facing window (since these are sun love plants) and it is in a pot that has plenty of drainage holes. Sedum plants along with most succulents and cactus species tend to perform best when they are planted in a terracotta pot.

Are sedum plants perennials?

Sedum plants are a perennial species, meaning that they will continue to produce flower blossoms each spring or summer as long as their ideal growing conditions are met and maintained.

What USDA growing zone can sedum plants grow in?

Gardeners love these plants because they are both cold hardy and tolerant of heat. They can happily grow outdoors all year long in USDA growing zones 3 through 10, but should be brought indoors for the colder months of the year outside of those zones.

How often should a sedum plant be watered?

Watering your sedum plant will not take up any time in your day. If you know anything about succulents, you know that they don’t need to be watered very often.

The leaves will actually tell you when it’s time for the plant to be watered. If the leaves start to wilt and shrivel up, all you need to do is give it a tad bit of water and it will plump back up.

As the plant is first getting established it will need a nice moisture level, but once it is properly introduced to an area it is super drought tolerant and will only need supplemental watering if there is an extended period of drought.

What are some other common names for sedum plants?

The sedum plant is also known as a stonecrop plant.

Should a sedum plant be pruned?

Pruning your sedum plant just revolves around how you want it to look — they don’t need to be pruned to remain healthy. Just snip away trails that are growing in directions you don’t want them to, or stems that appear as being a little bit sickly.

Do sedum plants prefer full sun or partial shade?

If you know anything about the care of a succulent plant, you know that they are a sun love plant type. It is best that they’re planted in an area that receives direct sunlight for a minimum of 6-8 hours per day.

There are certain varieties that are able to tolerate short amounts of partial shade, but this can result in soil not drying out properly, and can also result in a less enthusiastic flowering period.

Where can I buy sedum seeds?

Sedum bulbs can easily be found at your local nursery or garden centre, or you can purchase some online.

What is the ideal soil type for a sedum plant?

Sedum plants will pretty much grow happily in any soil type that you throw it in, but it can have certain characteristics that will help keep it as happy as possible.

The first feature is that the soil mix should be very well draining. This is important because these plants are rather susceptible to root rot and do not like having wet feet.

Second, sedum plants don’t do too great in soil that is too rich in nutrients. This can cause them to grow too quickly and too tall which can cause their stems to snap! It is best that they’re planted in poor soil that is sandy, as this soil type is the perfect level of nutrients with great drainage.

What is the easiest way to propagate a sedum plant?

Sedum plants are most easily propagated by simply transplanting a started plant into your garden or larger pot. Starting from seed can be very time consuming.

How tall do sedum plants get?

With so many different species within the genus, sedum plants are bound to have growth habits. They come into two different sedum varieties: low growing sedum and upright sedum.

Low growing sedum only grows to be a few inches tall and tends to spread out quite far in a creeping and spreading habit. Many species are quite tough and can even handle some light foot traffic. This makes them perfect for rock gardens, ground cover, or even to cascade over a stone wall or in a hanging basket.

Upright sedum grows in upright clumps that grow from more stiff stems. They can grow to be over 20 inches tall but don’t spread as far as the other variety. their growth habit makes them great for containers, as border plants, and for butterfly gardens.

What time of year do sedum flowers bloom?

Accompanying their wonderful succulent leaves, sedum plants have a pretty amazing display of summer flowers as well. Sedum flowers usually bloom in the early summer and last all the way through to late fall.