The genus Sedum, commonly known as stonecrop, is a gardener's perfect solution for dry or rocky areas. As a succulent, this perennial stores moisture in its thick, plate-shaped foliage that results in long-lasting color and a strong constitution for all weather conditions. Count on this low-growing ground cover to grow tall and proud and provide fall color for otherwise barren garden zones.
Sedum grows on tall stalks covered in disc-shaped leaves with slightly serrated edges. The foliage is thick, like other succulents, and may be shades of gray, red and green, or even variegated. Clusters of star-shaped flowers open on heads at the stalk tops in bright colors, including yellow, red, pink and purple variations. Typically 6 inches to 2 feet tall, sedum will spread out without being too vigorous.
Preferring full sun, these tough garden favorites have long been planted in rocky ledges, as a border plant, or as ground cover in beds. Although they require good drainage, moist to dry conditions will suit them fine and a little neglect may provide a stronger plant.
Space sedum plants 18 inches to 2 feet apart, allowing more room for spread with the taller varieties. Sedum are carefree plants, so fertilization should not be required and they should thrive even in slightly sandy or rocky soils. If your soil is heavy or clay-based, consider amending with sand prior to planting.
Provide enough water after planting to keep the soil moist but not soggy until the plant is established. Sedum do not require deadheading, but flower clusters and stems may be removed after blooming for a neater appearance. Some gardeners prefer to leave the dried flower clusters through the winter for texture and interest.
Autumn Joy, or Sedum spectabile, is a popular cultivar of sedum that creates fall interest in a show of gradually shifting bloom colors. Delicate pink graduates to deep pink, and then to a red bronze shade. Two-row, or Sedum spurium, is a low-growing species topping off at about 6 inches. Cultivars include Dragon's Blood, a brilliant red shade, and Tricolor, with variegated cream, pink and green foliage.