How to Grow Sedum as a Groundcover Plant
Sedums (Sedum spp.) are drought-tolerant succulent plants ideal for growing in poor soils and rock gardens where other plants struggle. Like cacti, succulents can retain water in their leaves, which allows them to thrive in dry conditions.
Sedums have different growth habits. While some grow upright, others are low-growing and can be used as groundcover. These low-growing sedums are often evergreen in warm climates. Also known as stonecrops, sedums are hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 9.
Varieties of Sedum
There are some 300 species of sedum, though some have been reclassified into the genus Hylotelephium. Sedums may have chartreuse leaves, green leaves, red leaves or variegated leaves depending on the species and cultivar.
Let's look at some examples of low-growing sedum plants that can be used as groundcover.
Gold Moss Sedum
Gold moss sedum (Sedum acre, zones 4 to 9) is native to parts of Africa, Europe and Asia. It has a maximum height of about 3 inches and a spread of 24 inches. This species has yellow, star-shaped flowers.
Angelina sedum (Sedum rupestre 'Angelina,' zones 4 to 9) is a popular cultivar of a species known as rocky stonecrop that is native to Europe. This cultivar has a height of about 4 inches and produces star-shaped yellow flowers in the summer.
The Caucasian stonecrop (Sedum spurium, zones 3 to 8), also known as the two-row stonecrop, has a height between 3 and 6 inches. There are various cultivars, including Red Carpet (Sedum spurium 'Red Carpet,' zones 3 to 8), which has pinkish flowers that attract butterflies. This cultivar is prized for its foliage color; its succulent leaves turn a burgundy color in the fall.
Tricolor (Sedum spurium 'Tricolor,' zones 3 to 9) is another cultivar that has green leaves with white and pink margins.
Native to the Eastern U.S., the three-leaved stonecrop (Sedum ternatum, zones 4 to 8) has white flowers and a height between 3 and 6 inches. The common name of this species refers to the fleshy leaves, which grow in whorls of three.
Planting Sedum as Groundcover
While some sedums, including gold moss sedum and Red Carpet two-row stonecrop, can be grown from seed, these sedum groundcover plants are typically propagated by cuttings. Simply remove a leaf from an existing plant with part of the stem attached and place it in the ground, where it will root.
Sedums root easily and are therefore most often propagated by cuttings or division.
Sedum Groundcover Care
Sedums are low-maintenance plants that require minimal watering and fertilizing. Therefore, you can grow sedum in poor, dry soils that have little organic matter. They can even grow in alkaline soils. However, good drainage is imperative.
Like other succulents, sedums must be grown in well-draining soil. Too much water can actually kill these plants, which have adaptations that allow them to thrive with minimal moisture.
Sedums also grow best in full sun, though the three-leaved stonecrop can handle some shade.
Pinching sedums can encourage them to develop thicker stems.
- Plant Talk Colorado: Sedum
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Sedum ternatum
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Sedum acre
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Sedum rupestre 'Angelina'
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Sedum spurium 'Red Carpet'
- North Carolina State Extension: Sedum
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Sedums
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Sedum spurium
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Sedum spurium 'Tricolor'
Since beginning her career as a professional journalist in 2007, Nathalie Alonso has covered a myriad of topics, including arts, culture and travel, for newspapers and magazines in New York City. She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University and lives in Queens with her two cats.