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Stonecrop, a succulent family that can flower your entire garden


Stonecrop is a fascinating succulent plant that, once discovered, will always trigger wonder, curiosity… and lust for more and more of its surprising species!

Basic Stonecrop facts:

Botanical nameSedum sp.
Common – stonecrop or sedum

Type – perennial
Bearing – variable, depends which species (creeping to upright)
Height – 2 to 20 inches (5 to 50 cm) depending on the species

Planting density – 3 to 4 plants per square yard or meter for larger species, 8 to 10 for the smaller ones

Exposure: full sun  –  Soil: any, but draining  –  Flowering: May to October (species)

Stonecrop is a fabulous plant, for many reasons: it’s easy to grow, very resilient and there is an amazing diversity among all the species. Whatever you need to cover and wherever you want flowers, there is always at least one Sedum that will match your needs: rock garden, walls, in flower beds…

Planting sedum

Planting stonecrop and caring for itTo properly thrive, stonecrop requires sun and well-draining soil. You can plant in Spring or in Fall, there aren’t really any rules to follow for this plant.

  • Excess water is fatal: it destroys the entire root.
  • As long as these two constraints are met, you can plant your stonecrop sedums anywhere.

Caring for stonecrop

Stonecrop flowerJust like the planting, caring for stonecrop is neither difficult nor time-consuming.

After the blooming is over, all you need to do is cut flower scapes off.

Note that even though stonecrop resists drought very well, you do have to be careful during the first summer after planting.

Smart tip:

don’t cut your taller Sedums too early (S. spectabile, S. spurium). Indeed, winter frosts will decorate them with beautiful crystals of light! Wait for spring to cut them short.

Propagating stonecrop

To multiply your stonecrop, all you need to do is separate it:

  • Pull the plant out with a spading fork.
  • Break it up with your hands if it’s a creeping species. The root ball will be much more compact if it’s a tall upright species. If this is the case, slice the clump with a sharp-bladed spade.
  • Plant each portion at a distance, as if they were new plants.

For species that have large leaves, such as Sedum spectabile, you can also try to start cuttings from individual leaves. Pick a few leaves from the stalk, let them dry off for 2 days (48 hours), and stick the lower third in a mix of sand and potting mix. Make sure this stays moist but not soggy, and after a while you’ll notice a miniature plant starting off from the base of the leaf.

Use and good plants to pair it with

Varieties and species of stonecropStonecrop can grow anywhere, as long as there sun and not too much water. You can try setting it up in rocky terrain, in nooks in a stone wall, in elevated pots or in a mounded flower bed. As you see, it can settle down almost anywhere!

The Sedum family is vast – there are so many different species that you can flower your entire garden with just this perennial and still find that space is lacking for this or that species…

However, if you like to have very different flowers, these make for beautiful pairs:

  • Tall grasses such as Pennisetum, Chasmanthium latifolium, Deschampsia cespitosa or Zebra grass, all of which will pair very well when planted alongside taller Sedum species. Together, your garden will look dazzling in Winter when frost forms on the tall fronds.
  • Other perennials, for example saxifrage, bellflower, knotweed or houseleek will fit right in between smaller stonecrop varieties. Opt for Aster, the one or the other iris or Solidago for taller stonecrops.

A few interesting species and varieties

Sedum spectabile: the tallest stonecrop species. Tall upright mound and thick stems with blue-green leaves. Pink flowers. Sedum spectabile blooms in August and September.

Sedum spathulifolium: the compact blue-to-purple leafage really makes its yellow stand out.

Sedum sieboldii: grows into a small round pillow with round blue leaves. Autumn-bloomer.

Sedum acre: will form a never-seen-before yellow pillow in Summer, it will be like having a little Sun in your garden.

Sedum reflexum: thin leaves take on a beautiful green-blue hue (also called Sedum rupestre).

Smart tip

Don’t cut the stems of your taller stonecrop species too early (S. spectabile, S. spurium). In Winter, Jack Frost will have fun encasing them in ice and snow-like crystals, making your garden truly fairy-like! Wait until Spring to cut the plants back.

Images: Pixabay: Jens, Jacques Gaimard, David Goulding, Onkel Ramirez
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