If someone says they have sedums in their garden, they could be talking about any one of about 500 different species. Sedums are a very large genus of flowering plants; they are leaf succulents that are available in annuals, biennials, and perennial options.
Because there are so many versions of sedums, you might see a variety of options at your local nursery all with the same name. Not to mention, many of these plants look nothing like one another; some can be tall and bushy, while others resemble more of a creeping vine.
Sedums, in their many forms, are a welcome visual in any garden. With so many options to choose from, gardeners are guaranteed to be able to find the shape and size they like and which will flourish in their particular environment.
If you’re wondering how to grow sedums in your backyard, the following information will help you to make the most out of these impressive plants. If you have success with one, you might consider adding a handful of other varieties as well; no one will be the wiser that they’re from the same family!
The Basics of the Sedum Family
Although they all look very different in appearance, all sedums are succulents and therefore store water in their leaves. It’s almost impossible to explain what sedums look like since they have so many varying appearances, colors, and shapes.
Some grow to be large bushes with purple and pink buds, while others can be tiny and delicate, with bright yellow or orange flowers. This specific family of flowers is also referred to as stonecrops since they seem to have the ability to grow in even the roughest of places.
In some cases, stonecrops can grow with very little water, low sunlight, and cold temperatures. In contrast, you’ll also find these plants in hot, desert-like conditions that get full sun and blazing temperatures, like South America and Africa.
If you’re thinking about planting some sedums in your garden, you’ll be happy to know that these flowers are very easy to care for once they are happily established. As a hardy, tough plant, even the perennials will return once the cold, winter season has passed.
If you’re not sure what kind of sedum variety you want to plant, you might consider this information on some of the popular species that you can grow in your garden:
Sedum Humifusum is native to Mexico, but it is a hardy plant that can survive through freezing temperatures.
This variety of sedum prefers to lay low to the ground and can make an ideal groundcover for your garden space. This creeping sedum as it’s called, is one of the most popular kinds. When it is not in bloom, it has spindly, green foliage; when in bloom, the flowers are delicate and bright yellow. This option is a perennial, so you’ll be able to enjoy it through multiple seasons.
The Humifusum is great as an accent plant along pathways or patios but can also be contained in a pot. It’s fairly pest-resistant, making it a great option for gardeners who don’t like to utilize pesticides.
Sedum Purple Emperor
This taller-growing sedum is a very popular choice when gardeners are looking to fill up a large space. Oftentimes gardeners will incorporate this kind of sedum both in their front and backyards since it’s purple coloring is such a conversation piece.
This sedum reaches up to fifteen inches in height, and its stem boasts a deep purple shade. This plant becomes more interesting in mid-summer when tiny, pink clusters of flowers begin to pop out of the stems. Eventually, the flowers open up and flatten out, making them an attractive landing pad for important pollinators. The hardy plant can be grown in a range of zones and is fairly easy to care for.
Another very flexible option, the Sedum Brilliant is a perennial. In the right circumstances, this sedum can grow into quite a large bush, reaching as high as eighteen inches tall. This plant comes in a range of flowering colors, from light, pale pink, to vivid purple.
Even when it is not flowering, this species looks gorgeous and fills out spaces perfectly. Leaves are lost in the fall, but the plant will come back when the soil thaws.
Sedum Dragon’s Blood
One of the most unique versions in the sedum family, Dragon’s Blood is a creeping plant that is perfect for filling small spaces, cracks, and patios. It comes in a deep purple color that is not to be missed, and its flowers bloom in pink and purple.
Anyone looking for a smaller, creeping sedum will enjoy this vivid-colored plant since it only reaches four inches in height. It’s a dramatic plant and easily becomes a great garden outline or patio decorator.
Caring for Your Sedums
If you’re ready to start planting sedums in your garden, these basic preferences of the plant family will help you to grow a lush garden that you can enjoy year-after-year.
Growing Environment for Sedums
With so many types available, it’s certain that every gardener will find a sedum that works well in their environment. That being said, every species has its ideal preferences, including hardiness zones and climate.
Fortunately, there is a sedum for every established zone, so you can be sure that you’ll have at least one option that does well in your garden space. That being said, you’ll want to know what kind of environment you have so that you can choose the sedum that will do best in that location.
Wild sedums are found all over the world, including barren locations like the tops of mountains and tiny cracks near riverbeds. The key thing to know is that sedums like space where they won’t get too much water. If you live in a wet climate with high humidity, a large portion of the sedum family might not fare very well.
Soil for Garden Sedums
Sedums are a unique plant in that all of its varieties usually prefer low-quality soil over something that is moist and nutrient-rich. In fact, sedums can even grow without any soil at all! In these cases, the plant will attach its roots to whatever is located closest to it.
That being said, if you want to incorporate sedums into your garden, you won’t kill them by planting them in nutrient-rich soil. They will still do fine in these conditions, but you’ll want to make sure the soil drains very well. If there’s one thing succulents hate, it’s over-watering.
Keep in mind that sedums do not like to be fertilized, and they will do well on their own. Fertilize the plants around them, but take care not to get the fertilizer too close to your sedum’s stems.
Watering Your Sedums
One of the best things about sedums is that as soon as they’ve been established in any one location, they will not need to be manually watered. This plant prefers to take in what the rainfall gives it, and that’s all it will need.
Even if your region experiences some drought, your sedum will do just fine. It may even be beneficial for it since this can help to dry out roots that may have been over-watered in the past.
Sunlight for Your Sedums
Sedums are very interesting plants; while they seem to have the power to grow almost anywhere, they do have a preference for sunlight. Partial shade is okay for them, but they will definitely prefer full sunlight if it’s available.
This is especially true for larger, bush-like sedums. Creeping versions aren’t so picky, which is why they can be found in harsher conditions. With creeping sedums, you do not need to be so focused on the planting location; however, it’s best to find a spot that gets at least a few hours of full sunlight per day for the larger varieties.
Soil for Sedums
As mentioned, sedums don’t seek out any particular kind of soil. This hardy plant likes soil that is of poorer quality; this kind of soil often has the best drainage and won’t suffocate the sedum.
This plant family really is quite self-sufficient, so trying to do too much will only result in a weak or dying plant.
Growing Sedums from Seed
If you’re adding sedum seeds to your flower garden, you’ll want to be fairly particular when you go about it. Sedum seed planting should take place sometime between March and April when the last frost has seen its day.
If you’ve missed this cut, your other option is to plant sedum seeds between June and August. Soil temperatures during spring planting should be no cooler than 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Most gardeners start out their sedums in a container or pot of some sort. The pot should be filled with a high-draining soil, usually a cactus soil combined with some perlite.
Lay your seeds down across the soil, and top with some vermiculite. Vermiculite can help with germination to ensure that all of your seeds come to sprout. Spray the seeds lightly with water, and then cover the pot with white paper or a plastic bag.
During this process, the seeds will need to stay warm. Keep your plant in a windowsill if it’s the summertime; if it’s a bit cooler still, place it on top of a warm appliance like the fridge. You should see seedlings in two to three weeks if you’ve done everything correctly.
Once the seedlings have broken the surface, you can remove the lid to let fresh air circulate. At this point, you’ll need to be consistent with their exposure to sunlight. They will need to be exposed gradually, starting with a few minutes per day and increasing slowly.
If your seedling were raised in small seed trays, you can move them into larger pots after six to eight weeks.
How to Propagate Sedums
When you propagate your plants, you are creating new plants from the ones you already have. This is an easy way to plant new things by means of asexual reproduction. There are a few ways to propagate sedum, and you can choose the method that works best for you.
Stem cutting requires you to cut stems from the base of your sedum plant. Make sure the stem has some leaves on it and that it is no shorter than two to three inches long.
Have a pot or seed tray ready with some well-draining soil. Dip the cut-end of your stem into some water and then into some rooting hormone. Then, you can sink the stem into your soil. Keep an eye on the soil, as it needs to be moist until the roots take hold.
As opposed to propagating your new plant into a pot or seed tray, division only requires that you move your new plant right into a new bed of soil. This should take place in the spring when you are seeing new growth.
Dig around the entire plant, with the root ball in-tact. With a sharp knife, cut the plant into two to four pieces and plant each piece immediately in its new designated location.
Propagating with Water
Although most sedums really don’t need much water to flourish, you can propagate these plants with water in place of soil.
With this option, you’ll only need to perform either a stem cutting or a division. With your new plants, place them into a clear vase that is full of water. Ensure that the leaves are above the water level.
Once you see new roots begin to grow, you can remove the plant from the water and transplant it to soil.
Sedums are fascinating; you can cut a leaf from one of these plants, and there is the possibility for you to grow a whole new plant!
Simply look for healthy leaves on your sedum plant. With a sharp knife, cut off the leaf with a small piece of the stem, too. Dip this small cutting into rooting hormone and then into some prepared soil. As always, the soil should have good drainage.
Cover the tray or pot with clear plastic for warmth, or place your new roots on a heating pad. If you’ve kept your leaf cuttings warm, you should see the roots take hold in as little as two to three weeks. At this time, you can transplant them outdoors or to their own indoor pot.
Common Sedum Pests and Prevention
Because sedums do so well without quality soil and water, they have an easier time fighting off fungus and root rot. However, sedums can still be attractive to garden pests that want to feast on their juicy leaves and stems.
Some of the most common pests that are found on sedums include:
Gnats are often found in the soil around sedums, and their larvae like to eat the roots. This can stunt the growth of your sedum and eventually kill it.
Gnats love wet soil, so drying out your sedum by avoiding any kind of watering can help to dehydrate the gnats living in the soil. Additionally, you can add sand or gravel to the first inch of soil around your plant; gnats won’t want to lay their eggs in this dry environment.
Aphids will begin to appear in the spring and summer on your sedums. They can be very destructive since they latch onto the sedum’s stem and leaves and suck out the plant’s fluids. To prevent aphids, consider introducing ladybugs into your garden, which are a predator to aphids. Additionally, organic neem oil or an organic insecticide will deter existing aphids.
Ladybugs and ambush bugs are two insects that like to hang out around sedum plants; however, they’re not there to harm them. Since other pests like to feed on sedums, Ladybugs and ambush bugs will wait on these plants for their prey to arrive.
This is your best defense against sedum pests because you’re utilizing Mother Nature’s natural defenses and giving beneficial bugs a snack!
Winter Care for Sedums
Sedums that have become established in your garden will not need to be brought in through the colder months. Some potted succulents will do well in a dark, warm space, but most sedums are perennials and will come back in the spring.
Even if you begin to prune your other plants in the late fall, you can leave your sedums without a problem. Even when the snow is thick and the frost has set, some sedums will still look attractive in your garden.
Showy sedums that are larger and more vibrant will fall to the ground during this time, but that isn’t cause for pruning. The only time you need to prune your sedums is if parts of the plant are showing rot or disease. The rest of the plant will die back, but it will return healthier in the spring.
Do not water or fertilize sedums through the fall and winter; rather, allow the sedums to go into a dormant stage, and clean up any debris that gathers around them. This step is important since lots of debris can be a welcoming home to pests and their eggs. In the springtime, this can create huge problems for your newly-sprouting plants.
Landscaping with Sedums
Because of their wide variety of options, sedums will do well in almost any kind of garden design. Additionally, their ability to respond well to almost any environment they’re in ensures that your soil type, sunlight, and climate will be suitable for certain sedum plants.
The fact that these plants are drought-tolerant aids in their ability to do very well in one specific garden design known as Xeriscape gardening.
Xeriscape gardening is a type of landscaping approach that works to reduce the need for supplemental water supplies. In short, these are gardens that rely specifically on rainwater for hydration and nothing else.
The idea started as a way to support gardening endeavors in locations where fresh, reliable water supplies are generally low or non-existent. As you can imagine drought-tolerant plants do best in these situations, including the sedum family.
Sedums will also do well in rock gardens, which have become a more popular gardening trend in the last few decades. Rock gardens are very low maintenance, and they can be enjoyed year-round.
Rock gardens that incorporate flowers often rely on plants that do not have a strong need for deep, rich soil; rather rocks gardens require plants that can do with rockier, more granular soil with fewer nutrients. Sedums of the creeping option are ideal for rock gardens since they easily drape across rocks and grab hold of anything around them.
Zen gardens have been popular for a very long time, but their basic requirements are started to become more flexible as more people create them. You’ll find Zen gardens that are miles long and others that fit into a small office space.
Zen gardens are meant to be a place to relax and are simple, organized, and easy to maintain. Not surprisingly, sedums do well in Zen gardens because they don’t need much care and can be cut back and maintained to certain shapes.
The Perfect Plant for Your Garden
Experienced gardeners know that sedums are the ultimate addition to a low-maintenance garden. Anyone would assume that a family of plants so beautiful would require a lot of hard work, but sedums are actually the exact opposite!
Once these plants have found a place to root, they will work hard to take care of themselves. Gardeners need to exert little effort to enjoy a fully-bloomed sedum, and some varieties will even come back multiple seasons with little effort from you. So long as you can provide some sunny spots and well-drained soil, your garden will be well on its way to a sedum-filled space in no time.