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Sedums, or stonecrops, are easy to grow given good drainage and adequate sun. They are economical because they grow quickly, and are simple to propagate. Plus they are outstanding performers in containers, pathways, parking strips and much more. Their durability with drought conditions and shallow soil has helped them become the stars of green roof and living wall designs. Their range of foliage color and texture make them perfect plants for living art such as hanging pictures, wreaths and much more.
If you want your creations to have year round interest it is nice choose varieties from the following list of creeping types, all of evergreen or semi-evergreen in Portland (USDA zone 8).
Be sure to see our Sedum article in our Natives area too!
Here are a few of our favorite Sedums:
S. acre (Goldmoss sedum) – A fast growing groundcover, 2-5 inches tall with upright branchlets of tiny pointed leaves. This sedum originates from Europe, Turkey and North Africa. ‘Aureum’ has pale green leaves with yellow tips and bright yellow flowers. Zone 5.
S. album (White stonecrop) - A creeping sedum with small, elongated jellybean like leaves and white summer flowers. Grows 4” tall 12” wide. Many varieties turn bright red with cold or stress. Zone 4. Common varieties include: ‘Coral Carpet’-exceptional red winter color, ‘Chloroticum’-pale green leaves, ‘Murale’-bluish tint to foliage and pink tint to flowers
S. brevifolius - Miniature, round leaves along 1” stems.
S. confusum - This species offers a bold texture with large, rounded leaves forming rosettes atop 3-4” stems. Yellow flowers in late summer and fall. Grows 6-8” tall and 18-24” wide. Mexican in origin, zones 7-9. ‘Aureum’- turns bright yellow in cold weather.
S. dasyphyllum - A mounding sedum with blue-green pebble like leaves are topped by small white flowers. Grows 2-4” tall and 8-12” wide. Mediterranean in origin, Zone 8.
S. divergens (Old man bones sedum) - Short, chubby green leaves stacked on top of each other in a criss-cross pattern. Bright yellow flowers in summer. Grows 2-4” tall 12-24” wide. Native to Oregon, zone 4.
S. glaucophyllum - Rosettes of bluish, spoon-shaped leaves form mats up to 4” tall and 12” wide. White flowers. Zone 5.
S. laxum - A native sedum large spoon-shaped leaves with pink edges. Pink summer flowers. Zone 8.
S. lydium - Tufted rosettes of green leaves turn red in winter. White flowers. Grows 1-4” tall. Tolerates part sun. Zone 5.
S. makinoi ‘Ogon’ - This is one of the few sedums that tolerate the shade, but will also take sun. It has bright yellow-gold round leaves and yellow flowers during the summer. It makes a great tight groundcover reaching 1-3 inches tall, spreads about 18 inches, and is semi-evergreen. Zone 7.
S. oreganum - A native sedum. Dark green shiny leaves are topped by yellow flowers in late summer. Grows up to 6” tall in full to part sun Zone 5.
S. orgonense - Another native forms rosettes of blue-green, rounded leaves. Pale yellow flowers reach 6” tall. Full sun to light shade. Zone 5.
S. reflexum - A feathery sedum forming tendrils of spruce-like branches. A fast spiller over container edges and rock crevices. Yellow flowers in July. Grows 4” tall. Zone 6. ‘Blue Spruce’-Blue green needle-like leaves. Tolerates part shade. ‘Green Spruce’-Green needle-like leaves.
S. rupestre - An evergreen, mat-forming groundcover for sun that grows about 6 in high and spreads about 2 feet. The species has gray-green needle-like leaves and yellow flowers during the summer. Zone 4. ‘Angelina’ (shown here) has golden yellow leaves that take on orange and red tints during the fall.
S. sexangulare (Six sided stonecrop) - Chubby, elongated green leaves spiral up 3-4” stems. Sprays of bright yellow flowers in summer. Zones 2-9.
S. spathifolium (Spoon leaved stonecrop) - Blue green, rounded leaves form fleshy rosettes on this native sedum. Grows 6” tall and 24” wide. Clusters of yellow flowers in late summer. Red tints in winter. Zone 5. ‘Cape Blanco’-A particularly silver form ‘Purpureum’- Blue foliage is tinted purple.
S. spurium - Semi evergreen (rosettes persist at the end of the stems through winter). Grows about 4 inches tall, spreads well and is good for covering banks and slopes. It flowers in the summer with pink or magenta flowers. Zone 4. ‘Dragon’s Blood’ (shown here) with plum-red leaves and magenta flowers ‘John Creech’ with tight green foliage that turns burgundy in the fall ‘Tricolor’ with green leaves and cream and red edging.
S. stenopetalum - A native sedum with rosettes of spiky leaves reaching 1” tall. Stalks of yellow flowers reach 8” in summer. Zone 4.
S. ‘Silver Moon’- A slow spreading hybrid with powdery blue rosettes and yellow summer flowers. Plum colored winter tints. Zone 5.
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Origin: Sedums come from the Northern hemisphere, with around 400 species coming mostly from mountainous areas.
Culture: Full sun in well-draining, poor to moderate soil. Drought-tolerant but appreciates some water at flowering time.
Maintenance: Shrubby-type sedums need to be cut down to the crown in the late fall once foliage starts to look bad, or in the spring if the seed heads are left for winter interest. The shrubby-types also might need staking if they are in too rich of soil. Creeping sedums benefit from having the flower heads cut back to maintain their shape. Easy!
Because of their diverse looks and sizes, they fit many roles in the garden or as container plants. Many groundcover varieties are evergreen or semi-evergreen while the taller sedums die back to the ground to re-emerge as cute rosettes in spring.
Propagation: Easy to propagate from stem cuttings, sometimes detached leaves will even root and form new plants.
Pests and Diseases: Snails and slugs can be a problem early in the season.