Sedum Plant

or Bittercress

When discussing the sedum plant it's best to start with the family it is from, Crassulaceae, or Orpine family.  The Orpine family is made is made up of succulent plants that store water in their leaves and are also dicotyledons, or dicots. 

This is the same family of the very popular Jade plant/Friendship Tree (Crassula ovata) and Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum sp.)

After the rain

With approximately 1500 species, the Orpine family consists of about 35 genera but classification is difficult because plants hybridize easily in the wild or when cultivated.  Plants are found all over the world's northern hemisphere, including North America.  Many varieties are hardy while others are not.  Crassulaceae are predominately found in planting zones 3-10.

Sedum is interchangeable with the term Stonecrop, often called Stonecrop Sedum.  This genus has about 600 species which include annuals and perennials, many deciduous, or losing their leaves over winter. 

Strawberries and Cream Sedum

Colors cover the rainbow from reds, creams, white, oranges, yellows to browns and rusts. 

Stem and leaf colors can be bright, light or dark green all the way to deep purples. 

The five-star petaled blooms cluster on top offering flower colors that are from bright pinks, reds and purples to even a steel gray-blue. 

Sedum spectabile (see FYI below)

Flowers are long bloomers, many through October offering great fall colors.  Outside of colors that vary greatly so do shapes and sizes.  Stone crop can be found in:

  • Ground covers or edging varieties, many used in roofing.  These grow 2-3 inches.
  • Mid to tall upright varieties in heights ranging 12-24 inches high, creating border perennials.
  • Tailing varieties that are often used in hanging baskets.
  • Many Hybrid varieties and growing

Other quick notes about sedum plants:

  • Low maintenance, very dependable plants
  • Deer resistant, also see deer prevention
  • Rabbit resistant
  • Grows with full sun and very hot temperatures
  • Tough, drought tolerant plants
  • Grows in all soil types, including poor. See soil testing methods
  • Needs well drained soil, roots rot if soil is too wet
  • Stonecrops offer flowers that attract butterflies except the hybrid 'Ruby Glow'.  Growing about 9 inches tall, this sterile and poisonous variety has purple leaves and ruby red flowers.  There are others that fall into this category, but not as commercial.

Stonecrop is great in rock gardens, rock walls, stoney areas, difficult slopes and banks, which can be an advantage for any butterfly garden.  It propagates easily by root division.  Leaf or stem cuttings produce roots when placed in soil.  Rarely does it grow from seed.

As plants age they tend to grow in full clumps and may fall open.  It's best to divide these in spring every 3-4 years.


  • Hylotelephium spectabile and Hylotelphium telephium were formerly know as Sedum spectabile and Sedum telephium.  They are synonymous.

  • Stonecrop needs little winter protection.  Having shallow roots, plants can heave in extremely cold temperatures.  It's a good idea to winter mulch.  Because wood chips and bark mulch types can retain too much moisture, it's better to use river rocks and stones.  Rocks help prevent soil erosion and also can provide small micro-nutrients over time.

  • Pests include mealy bugs, scale insects, slugs and snails.

  • Nurseries usually carry about a dozen varieties of Stonecrop.  To find more check on the internet or look up 'Rock Garden Societies'.

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