Since sedums thrive in less-than-ideal conditions, the author adorns a stone wall with a wide assortment of them (identified in chart below).
If you’re looking for a beautiful plant that thrives with virtual neglect, a creeping sedum just might fit the bill. Sedums strut their stuff where many other plants dare not venture. They make themselves at home, for example, in the cracks of a garden wall or walkway, on roofs or the tops of gently sloping birdhouses, or even under massive trees where enormous roots monopolize most of the soil’s moisture. They also perform well in rock gardens, borders, and containers.
As seasonal and prolonged droughts make regular appearances across the United States, many gardeners have begun to take a closer look at members of the genus Sedum. Although Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ has become popular for its late russet blooms, its groundhugging relatives are also gaining favor.
Creeping sedums, also commonly known as stonecrops, offer unending interest throughout my garden. They are among the most versatile, drought-tolerant, and easy-to-grow perennials I’ve ever cultivated during several decades as a gardener. Sedums actually decrease work for a gardener as they increase in square footage. Renowned for their ability to spread quickly, these low growers thus keep weeds from taking hold. Although it’s not necessary to deadhead the spent blooms since they eventually just fade away, it’s easy to remove old flowers with a string trimmer. As long as they’re not over-watered, they rarely suffer from any diseases or pests.
While even the poorest soil can nourish sedums—and poor or little soil is actually their preferred medium—good drainage is the key to growing them. Too much moisture, especially standing water, will do what no drought can: It will quickly kill a sedum.
Once established, sedums require virtually no supplemental water to thrive, even in the driest circumstances. Although they are an ideal choice for gardens in hot, arid climates like the western United States, sedums perform well nearly anywhere—as long as they get good drainage. In fact, they are common in cold, alpine regions, where they can be found poking out from boulders or sprouting from just a few inches of scree. There’s at least one Sedum species for virtually every USDA Hardiness Zone. Most creeping sedums prefer full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Sedum ternatum, a native of North America, is one sedum that prefers the shade and a bit more moisture than its relatives.