Sedum Description and Cultural Information
Sedum is a very large genus of over three hundred species and possibly six hundred cultivars and they go by many different common names of stonecrop but are also occasionally called ever-live and never-die. They can be low growing or upright, but they all have thick, fleshy, succulent foliage. The similarity stops there though, since individual foliage and flowers are quite unique.
Some of the low growing sedums include S. acre, S. album, S. kamtschaticum, S. reflexum, S. spurium, and S. ternatum.
Sedum acre, goldmoss stonecrop. 2 - 3". This sedum has tiny, bright green leaves and bright yellow flowers. It is a very vigorous grower, moving in and around plants and through the garden and over the pathway and down the stairs and settling in to watch TV around dinner time. To transplant simply pull up a section and throw it in the general direction you would like it to be. It will find the way. It seems happy to grow in full shade but will only bloom in the sun. Zones 3 - 8.
Sedum album, white stonecrop. 4 - 6". This sedum is a fast-growing groundcover with lance-shaped green leaves and tiny white, star-shaped flowers in early summer. Zones 4 - 8.
Sedum cauticolum. 2 - 4". This sedum creates a rounded mound of blue to reddish bronze foliage. Pink to rose flowers in late summer. Zones 4 - 8.
Sedum kamtschaticum, Kamchatka stonecrop. 4 - 5". This sedum is a slow spreading, clumping type with tiny dark green, scalloped leaves and purplish buds that open bright orange-yellow. Zones 3 - 8.
Sedum kamtschaticum var. ellacombeanum. 6 - 8". Smooth, bright green foliage has a fast, dense spreading habit and yellow flowers in summer. This variety seeds out readily, in addition to spreading, so makes an excellent groundcover in hot, dry areas where other plants may struggle. Can be used along hills and banks for erosion control. 'Variegatum' has cream edged foliage but occasionally sports solidi green shoots which should be removed. The variegated form is more clumping and slow to spread. Zones 3 - 9.
Sedum reflexum, stone orpine. 6 - 10". This sedum has interesting blue-green, needle-like foliage resembling tiny pine trees. They are fast spreaders and have yellow flowers in summer. 'Blue Spruce' has very blue foliage. Zones 5 - 8.
Sedum spurium, two-row stonecrop. 2 - 6". This sedum has mat forming, wiry stems with rows of rounded leaves at the ends and pink flowers in summer. 'Dragon's Blood' has red-tinted foliage in the spring and rose-red flowers in the summer. 'Tricolor' is one of my favorites with pink, white, and green foliage. 'Fulda Glow' has bronze-red foliage all year with rose-red flowers in summer. Zones 3 - 8.
Sedum ternatum, whorled stonecrop. 4 - 6". This sedum has light green leaves whorled about the stems. Starry white flowers appear in early summer. Zones 4 - 8.
Some of the upright growing sedums include S. aizoon, S. maximum, and S. spectabile.
Sedum aizoon, Aizoon stonecrop. 12 - 15". This sedum has upright stems with flat, oval leaves and clusters of yellow flowers in early summer. The variety aurantiacum has reddish stems, dark green leaves, and yellow-orange flowers. Zones 4 - 8.
Sedum maximum, great stonecrop. 2'. This sedum has thick, oval leaves and pale yellow flowers. The variety atropurpureum has purple leaves and stems with pale, reddish-pink flowers. Sedum 'Vera Jameson' is a short-growing hybrid with deep purple leaves and dusky pink flowers, however it is fairly slow growing. Zones 4 - 8.
Sedum spectabile, showy stonecrop. 1 - 2'. This is the most well-known sedum, mainly due to the success of its hybrid 'Autumn Joy'. It has wide blue-green leaves and with 4 - 6" flat clusters of pink flowers in late summer. 'Brilliant' has bright rose-pink flowers. 'Pink Chablis' PPAF is a variegated sport of 'Brilliant' that often sports solid white offsets that should be removed at the root zone. Sedum 'Carmen' has large, rosy-pink flowers. Sedum 'Variegatum' has creamy-yellow centers edged in blue-green with pale, cream flowers tinted pink. Zones 3 - 9.
Sedum hybrids. There are some wonderful hybrid sedums on today's market. 'Sunset Cloud' has dark, purple tinted foliage and wine-purple flowers. Sedum 'Rosy Glow' (aka 'Ruby Glow') is a short-growing plant with blue-green foliage and rich, ruby-red flowers. Sedum 'Matrona' is an upright grower with pale-pink flowers, burgundy tinted stems and gray-green leaves edged and veined with rose-purple. Some sports of Sedum 'Matrona' include 'Samuel Oliphant' PP#15582, a highly unstable and somewhat unattractive cream edged plant; Sedum 'Black Jack' PP#16736, another highly unstable dark purple leaf mutation that is prone to sunburn and bruising and is not recommended; and Sedum 'Maestro' PPAF, a very attractive and excellent growing blue leaf sport with the same reddish stems and tints as its parent. 'Frosty Morn' has blue-green foliage edged in white with palest pink flowers. Sedum 'Morchen' is another upright form with purple-bronze stems and foliage with pink flowers. And there are many other hybrids available.
How to Grow: All sedums are very easy to grow. Plant them in any average to rich, well-drained soil in full sun to light shade. The low growing varieties will grow in more shade but may not flower. S. spurium needs full sun to look best. Plants such as Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and Sedum 'Purple Emperoro' tend to flop over when the center becomes too dense and the blooms too heavy to hold the stems vertically. When this happens it is best to lift, divide, and replant a little deeper to help hold them up. Sedum 'Frosty Morn' frequently reverts to solid blue-green. If this happens, break off the solid colored stems so they don't multiply and take away the energy from the variegated portion. Propagation can be done by division, stem cuttings, and seed, plus self-sown seedlings tend to be common with many varieties.
Landscape uses: Use the low, spreading species in rock gardens or as border plants. Use the upright species in masses or with other summer blooming perennials such as Rudbeckia, asters, Caryopteris, Anaphalis, and ornamental grasses. The purple and reddish leaved varieties are stunning with silvery plants such as Russian sage (Perovskia), artemisia, and pearly-everlasting (Anaphalis).