Sedum is a genus also known as stonecrop. This usually refers to the small, fleshy-leaved succulents that spread like a mat and originate in dry, rocky locations so they’re very drought tolerant. The Sedum genus used to also include other types of stonecrop or ice plants that have been reclassified as Hylotelephium. As well as the attractive sculptural features of the evergreen foliage, sedums produce small nectar-rich flowers that attract pollinating insects. They make good ground cover outdoors, particularly on green roofs, and are sometimes used as an alternative to grass lawns. The tender varieties make good houseplants and can also be grown outside in containers in summer.
Sedums need well-drained soil and a sheltered, very sunny site to thrive. A terracotta container or window box would work well, or a roof with a small depth of growing medium.
Add plenty of grit to the planting hole to ensure good drainage.
Sedums can be propagated by cuttings or offsets from the main plant. Each leaf can grow into a new plant if gently pulled away and replanted.
Sedums are relatively pest-free. The main enemy is cold, wet weather, so make sure tender plants are protected over winter.
Sedums need very little pruning or aftercare. Do not water over winter.
Sedum varieties to try
Sedum reflexum is a hardy species native to the UK and Europe. It’s fast-growing and makes good ground cover with evergreen foliage and nectar-rich, yellow flowers in summer that attract pollinating insects. Combine with sempervivums and other hardy sedums.
Sedum dasyphyllum or Corsican stonecrop, grows in hot, dry conditions. Star-shaped flowers appear in early summer and the leaves turn purple in winter. Ideal for growing between stepping stones, on green roofs or in the crevices of dry walls, it can also be used as a lawn substitute in the right conditions.
Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’ has distinctive foliage that comes into its own in winter with small yellow flowers in summer. In colder regions, it needs protection from winter frosts. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Sedum morganianum ‘Burrito’, or donkey’s tail, has tails of trailing succulent leaves and pink, star-shaped flowers in summer. A tender sedum, it’s usually grown as a houseplant on a windowsill out of direct sunlight. It can be moved outside in summer.