Sedum (Showy Stonecrop) Plant Profile

sedum stonecrope

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Sedum plants come in a wide variety of heights, colors, and forms. Showy Stonecrop, the taller plants in the genus Sedum, are popular garden plants that are extremely easy to grow. Although lovely, sedums are often taken for granted in the garden, partly because they don’t bloom until the fall, but also because they require so little care from the gardener. The thick leaves of these succulent plants are able to withstand both drought and rainy weather.

Plant sedum in early spring after the threat of frost has passed. Sedum has a steady growth of about an inch a month. The flower buds form early and remain attractive well into winter. If the deer didn’t like to eat them, Sedum would be a perfect plant.

Border Stonecrops are a small section of the hundreds of species of Sedum. These taller growing Sedums have thick stems, fleshy leaves and tight flower heads that start out looking similar to heads of broccoli. Most are sturdy enough to stand upright on their own, with a few varieties that have a nice trailing quality, suitable for containers.

Tall sedum flowers tend to come in shades of pink and mauve, that start out pale and deepen as they mature. The flower heads are attractive from bud through to their dried stage and are usually left standing tall throughout winter. The stems are even strong enough to hold a few inches of snow, capping the flower tops.

Botanical Name Sedum
Common Name Showy Stonecrop, Border Stonecrop
Plant Type Perennial succulent
Mature Size 6–24 inches tall, 12–24 inches wide
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Well-drained soil
Soil pH Neutral to slightly acidic
Bloom Time Summer, fall
Flower Color Yellow, red, pink, white
Hardiness Zones 310
Native Area Eastern United States
sedum stonecrop closeup
The Spruce / Adrienne Legault
closeup of sedum
The Spruce / Adrienne Legault
sedum stonecrop
The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

How to Grow Sedum

Sedums are extremely easy to grow. They prefer well-drained soil but can tolerate rainy weather as well. Extreme heat and lack of sun both cause Sedum to get a bit leggy. Pruning the plants back in early July will encourage them to get bushier and to grow sturdier, but it can result in smaller flowers.

Most of the sedum seed offered is for the low growing, ground cover varieties, not tall sedum. Taller sedums tend to be hybrids, and they won't grow true from seed. You will usually need to start off with plants or divisions.

Light

Sedums will grow best in full sun. They are very drought tolerant, but stonecrops can get sunscald in extremely hot, dry conditions. Sedums can be grown successfully in partial shade, but the plants might not be as sturdy and upright as they would be in full sun.

Soil

Wet, heavy clay soil can lead to root and stem rot so plant sedum where the soil can easily drain.

Water

Water thoroughly when planting, but once established, sedum plants don't require a lot of water and are drought resistant, much like other succulents like Agave, Euphorbia, and Ice Plants (Lampranthus). Water whenever the top two inches of soil is dry.

Temperature and Humidity

Sedums, as succulents, can tolerate a wide range of temperatures although very high temperatures (higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit) might lead to scorched leaves. Humidity is also tolerated well, just reduce your watering schedule if you live in an area with high humidity.

Fertilizer

An added fertilizer should not be needed. High-nitrogen soil can cause sedum to flop and delay blooming, so adding an inch of compost annually in the spring and when planted can help achieve optimal soil levels.

Landscape Uses

Sedums look especially good in a small mass planting that takes center stage in autumn. Because they look good all season, sedums are suitable for edging, as specimen plants, as ground cover, and in containers. Smaller varieties are good choices for rock gardens and walls. Sedums make long-lasting cut flowers and are great for attracting butterflies and other pollinators.

Propagating Sedum

Stonecrop flowers bloom only once, late in the season. Stonecrops do not need deadheading and often look good right through the winter. After several years, the center of Sedum plants will show signs of dying out, a sure sign they need dividing. Dividing them is a good idea at that point, to keep the plant vigorous.

Stem cuttings can be taken at any time, to propagate more Sedum.

Varieties of Sedum

  • Sedum 'Autumn Joy': still a favorite because it is such a wonderful, beautiful performer
  • Sedum spectabile 'Brilliant': a clearer pink than most Sedum flowers
  • Sedum 'Vera Jamison': burgundy leaves and mauve flowers with a trailing habit
  • Sedum 'Black Jack': deep burgundy, almost black, foliage and a strong upright habit
  • Sedum 'Cloud Nine' features variegated foliage