10 Sedum (Stonecrop) Varieties To Plant as Ground Cover

Green sedum (stonecrop) as ground cover

The Spruce / Autumn Wood

Many gardeners are familiar with upright varieties of sedum, such as Sedum 'Autumn Joy,' as excellent plants for color in the hot, dry days of late summer and early autumn. But several varieties of low-growing sedum also work well as ground cover plants in hot, arid areas where other plants struggle to survive.

Part of the Crassulaceae family, known for plants with fleshy, succulent leaves, the Sedum genus comprises 400–500 species known as sedums, or stonecrops, many of which have been widely adopted as garden plants. The name stonecrop derives from the fact that these plants not only tolerate dry, rocky soil but positively thrive in it. Sedums range in height from about 2 inches to 3 feet. Some species are hardy up to USDA hardiness zone 3, while others are best limited to warmer climates. There are both annual and perennial sedums, but all are fleshy succulents. Sedums store moisture in their leaves, which is the reason they work so well in arid locations. Although all sedums flower, they're usually grown for their foliage, which comes in interesting shades of green not found in most other plants.

All sedums are remarkably easy to grow and propagate, and you can only harm them by overwatering or planting them in overly moist soil. With upright varieties, a single branch or even a leaf stuck into the ground will quickly root and become a new plant. Low-growing sedums spread themselves over the ground readily, but they're not invasive, and their shallow root systems make them easy to remove—making them ideal ground cover plants.

Here are 10 sedum, or stonecrop, varieties to consider for your ground cover needs.

Fun Fact

Many plants being sold as sedums are no longer sedums—not in the official sense. Plant biologists frequently reassign plants to different genera, and they'll sometimes remove plants from an overly large genus and carve out a new one for them. Sedum is one such group of plants, in which several common species have been reassigned to new genera, even though they're often still referred to as sedums in the horticultural trade. For example, the popular 'Autumn Joy' sedum is now formally known as Hylotelephium 'Autumn Joy.'

  • 01 of 10

    White Sedum (Sedum album)

    White sedum with green and purple coloring

    White Crest Gardens

    Sedum album has white flowers and green foliage that turns reddish in autumn. It blooms in summer and is an excellent ground cover for thin, poor soils or rocky embankments. White sedum is, however, a relatively slow-growing plant. Drought conditions may turn the foliage pinkish, but this species has excellent tolerance for dry conditions.

    • Native Area: Europe, Siberia, western Asia, North Africa
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–9
    • Height: 3–5 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full; tolerates light shade
  • 02 of 10

    'Murale' (Sedum album 'Murale')

    Green 'Murale' sedum

    Missouri Botanical Garden

    'Murale' is a sedum cultivar with bronze foliage and pink flowers that bloom in early summer and attract butterflies. It has a similar growth habit as the rest of the species but is a slightly smaller plant overall.

    • Native Area: Europe, Siberia, western Asia, North Africa
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–9
    • Height: 2–3 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full; will tolerate light shade
  • 03 of 10

    Cascade Stonecrop (Sedum divergens)

    Green cascade stonecrop

    Little Prince Plants

    Sedum divergens, often known as cascade stonecrop or spreading stonecrop, is a perennial species that blooms with yellow flowers in midsummer. The leaves are green but show a reddish tinge in full sun. Individual plants can spread up to several feet in irregular directions from the crown.

    • Native Area: Western United States
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–9
    • Height: 3–4 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full; tolerates light shade
  • 04 of 10

    Pink Mongolian Stonecrop (Hylotelephium ewersii)

    Pink Mongolian stonecrop with green leaves and pink and white flowers

    World of Succulents

    Once categorized as Sedum ewersii (and sometimes still sold under this name), pink Mongolian stonecrop is now officially known as Hylotelephium ewersii. This is an excellent small ground-cover plant that blooms in late summer with pink flowers. Leaves are blue-gray. It should be clipped to the ground in late fall as it begins to die back. Well-suited for dry soil, pink Mongolian stonecrop is a great rock garden plant.

    • Native Area: Himalayas
    • USDA Growing Zones: 2–9
    • Height: 4–6 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
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  • 05 of 10

    'Blue Spruce' Sedum (Sedum reflexum 'Blue Spruce' or S. rupestre 'Blue Spruce')

    Blue spruce sedum with a yellow bird in its green foliage

    The Tree Farm

    'Blue Spruce' sedum is named for the bluish needle-like foliage resembling that of some evergreen shrubs, and it works well as a transition between low-sprawling evergreens, such as juniper or yews. This is a fast-growing plant that produces a blanket of small yellow flowers in mid- to late summer. Like most sedums, 'Blue Spruce' is easy to propagate from cuttings.

    • Native Area: Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–9
    • Height: 4–8 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 06 of 10

    Japanese Stonecrop (Hylotelephium sieboldii)

    Japanese stonecrop with red-rimmed green leaves and pink flowers

    Digigalos/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

    Once categorized within the Sedum genus, this plant is now a member of the related Hylotelphium genus. The Japanese stonecrop has silver-blue leaves with distinctive red edges as well as hot-pink flowers that appear in fall (thus, another common name for this plant is October sedum). The plant is especially good for brightening dark corners of a landscape.

    • Native Area: Japan
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–9
    • Height: 3–4 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full; tolerates light shade, especially in hot climates
  • 07 of 10

    'Purple Emperor' (Hylotelephium telephium 'Purple Emperor')

    'Purple Emperor' sedum with purple leaves and pink flowers

    World of Succulents

    Another of the plants that was moved out of the Sedum genus, 'Purple Emperor' has plum foliage and pink inflorescence that complement plants with silver foliage or yellow flowers. This is a more upright plant than many of the ground cover sedums. It works well for filling pockets in rock gardens and sunny border gardens.

    • Native Area: Eurasia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4–9
    • Height: 12–15 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full; enjoys some shade, especially in very hot climates
  • 08 of 10

    'Angelina' Stonecrop (Sedum rupestre 'Angelina')

    'Angelina' stonecrop with yellow-green foliage

     The Spruce / Autumn Wood

    'Angelina' is a gold-leaved sedum that turns bronze when the weather gets cold. Tiny yellow flowers appear through the summer. This mat-forming plant works well in dry areas, rock gardens, containers, and hanging baskets, and its color contrasts nicely with plants that have dark foliage.

    • Native Area: Europe, Asia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–9
    • Height: 4–6 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full, Partial
    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Chinese Sedum (Sedum tetractinum 'Coral Reef')

    Chinese sedum with green leaves with red-orange coloring

    Missouri Botanical Garden

    Also known as 'Coral Reef,' Chinese sedum is one of the few sedum types with a warm yellowish color. Tiny white or pink flowers appear in July and August, although the foliage color is its most notable attribute. Mixing well with dark green plants, 'Coral Reef' makes a perfect ground carpet when planted in mass because of its low, spreading nature. Like most sedums, it's easy to propagate from stem cuttings.

    • Native Area: Alpine regions of China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–8
    • Height: 2–3 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • 10 of 10

    Russian Stonecrop (Sedum kamtschaticum)

    Russian stonecrop with green leaves and yellow flowers

    Epic Gardening

    Russian stonecrop has deep green leaves and golden yellow flowers that appear in late summer. It's a reliable, fast-growing plant that can be used for filling in spaces in rock gardens or chinks in stone walls as well as blanketing sunny areas. The foliage turns an attractive bronze in the fall.

    • Native Area: Siberia
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3–8
    • Height: 3–6 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Is there a difference between sedum and stonecrop?

    The two have become interchangeable for each other. However, the term stonecrop identifies many different plants that grow in dry, rocky terrain (hence the name stonecrop) in the Crassulaceae family. At the same time, sedums are technically plants in the Sedum genus, which can include up to 500 species.

  • Are stonecrops perennial?

    Stonecrops are hardy, drought-tolerant perennial species popular in xeriscaping, rock gardens, and containers.

  • How fast do stonecrop grow?

    Sedum and stonecrop are fast growers. One variety, 'Angelina,' grows fast and can be planted at any time of year, but it can take a year or two before it flowers.