Sedums are ornamental plants used outdoors for hardy species and indoors for non-hardy species. They are valued for their flowers of many colours that adorn gardens’ walls and rockeries. The dwarf species are used to decorate patios and balconies. Depending on the variety, there are several methods of propagation including sowing, the taking of cuttings and the division of clumps.

Apart from their ornamental features, sedums also have medicinal virtues. Indeed, some species have diuretic, rubefacient and antiscorbutic properties. After being ground, the leaves are used to treat surface wounds, burns and pain due to arthritis. Some species such as showy stone crop (sedum spectabile ‘Carmen’) are valued for their bluish foliage that bear beautiful pink flowers used to decorate balconies. Goldmoss sedum (sedum acre ‘elegans’), with its yellow flowers and light green foliage, is used for decoration. The flowering sedum is characterized by yellow flowers. All sedums can grow on rocks and can spread over 12 inches (30 cm), reaching a height of 8 inches (20 cm).

Overview of sedums

Known as stonecrops, sedums belong to the Crassulaceae family. It is a succulent plant that can be annual, biennial, perennial with a creeping grass bearing or semi-shrub of which the height varies from 16 to 24 inches (40 cm to 60 cm). In nature, sedums grow on stones and rocks, which explains the origins of its name derived from the Latin word meaning ‘to sit’.  The stems bear thick and fleshy leaves of varying size. Stonecrops are valued for their small flowers growing in cyme or clusters, and which come in various white, light pink or dark pink hues. Flowering starts around the month of August will not be completed until October. There are nearly 50 species of stonecrops that are grouped into two categories: hardy species that are drought-resistant and non-hardy species that are grown in greenhouses. The latter are grown in suspended baskets with hanging stems that provide an apartment with a beautiful aesthetic setting. In winter, the foliage disappears, but the remaining stub resumes growth in the spring.

Stonecrops growing techniques

For varieties that are suited to sowing, the most recommended period to sow the seeds is in spring. The sowing of hardy species is done directly on the ground at the location where you want to grow the vegetation. For perennials, it is advisable to do so under a cold frame to maximize the success rate. The taking of cuttings is for species that cannot be propagated by seed. The technique involves taking cuttings from stems that root easily in spring or summer. For species with large leaves, it is also possible to proceed by taking cuttings from the leaves themselves. However, the easiest and fastest technique is the division of clumps which allows for vigorous plants that can later be transplanted. It is performed in the spring and to facilitate the plant’s growth resumption it is advisable to repot plants in larger containers every two years, ensuring good drainage to avoid stagnant moisture that is harmful to the plant. Concerning garden stonecrops, the plants are easy to grow because they are rather undemanding, even adapting to the most depleted grounds. The planting density is about 9 plants per square meter. If plants are in containers, simply soak the root ball with the pot in a receptacle filled with water. Extracting the plant from its container must be done gently, taking care not to break the root ball. Planting will be followed by abundant watering, ensuring that no water is left to stagnate.

Maintenance advice and tips

When planting sedums, avoid using soil that is too rich in humus, as it can cause the plants to rot. Moreover, they only tolerate shade temporarily in dry conditions. In winter, watering should be spaced out so to keep the substrate dry because it is the sedums’ dormant period. Supplies of low-concentration fertilizers should be added from spring to autumn. Pruning is carried out at the end of flowering and involves cutting off stems and wilted flowers. Sedums’ enemies are slugs and the treatment consists of simply applying anti-slug products. For propagation by cuttings, it is possible to buy shoots from specialized stores where they are sold by weight. The shoots are presented in the form of small stems only a few inches tall. To plant, just spread them on the ground where they will take root.

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Published in Succulent plants by Alexander on 26 Jul 2011