The sedum or stonecrop can beautify your garden all year round. Information on the numerous varieties of the perennial as well as everything you need to know about planting, caring for, propagating, and wintering the sedum plant can be found in this article.
The name sedum is a genus in the thick-leaf family (Crassulaceae). There are over 400 different species and numerous varieties worldwide, many of which are comfortable in our gardens at home. Sedum species are also often called “fat hen”.
Sedum plant: characteristics and origin
Numerous closely related species within the Sedum genus are grouped with the names sedum and stonecrop. The terms are often used synonymously, although the two species groups differ somewhat in their growth form. While the term “ sedum plant” mainly includes the taller, clumpy growing Sedum perennials, “stonecrop” is understood to mean the ground-covering, carpet-forming species. Most of the sedum species are common in North America and Asia. Sedum species are also found in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Overall, the subtropical and temperate zones of the northern hemisphere are considered to be the natural range of the Sedum genus.
In addition to the growth habit, the various Sedum species and varieties differ in the color of leaves and flowers as well as in the arrangement of their leaves. In addition, the fat hens sometimes have different flowering times. Common features include the fleshy leaves, which the plants use to store water, as well as the associated adaptation to dry and poor locations. Depending on the species and variety, the Sedum perennials bloom between June and July or during the summer until autumn. This makes them valuable feeders for the bees and wild bees that still fly around late in the year.
The most beautiful species and varieties of the sedum plant
Popular sedum species or species of the Sedum genus suitable for the garden include:
- Sharp stonecrop ( Sedum acre ): 5 to 10 cm high ground covering, evergreen perennial; spreads like a carpet; ovate, green and fleshy leaves; numerous yellow, star-shaped flowers between June and July.
- White sedum plant or red moss stonecrop (Sedum album ˈLaconicumˈ): Approx. 5 to 15 cm high ground covering, carpet-forming perennial; star-shaped, umbel-like flowers in brilliant white between July and August; rather vigorous; Foliage sometimes turns brownish-red in the sun.
- Magnificent stonecrop or magnificent fatty leaf ( Sedum spectabile ˈBrillantˈ): 40 to 50 cm high clump-forming perennial; oval, light green, succulent leaves with a curved leaf margin; large umbel-shaped flowers in a magnificent purple-red from August to September; can also grow well in slightly more humid soils.
- Purple stonecrop or Hohes Fettblatt ( Sedum telephium ˈAutumn joyˈ): 50 to 70 cm high, bushy, strongly clumpy perennial; large, umbellate, brownish-red flowers late in the year (August to September); oval, gray-green, succulent leaves that turn yellow in autumn; can also grow well in slightly more humid locations.
Plant sedum plant: location and timing
The sedum plant is ideal for planting stone structures, open spaces with a heather character, or a green roof. Above all, it prefers dry, shallow locations with a sandy, well-drained substrate. But it is also possible to cultivate Sedum in a pot. Most sedum species prefer a location in full sun, but some species are well adapted to partial shade. The soil should have an alkaline to neutral pH value and be well permeable due to a high proportion of stone, gravel, or sand.
Overall, Sedum species are considered to be very undemanding plants that have an extremely low nutritional requirement. Accordingly, a nutrient-poor and humus-poor substrate should be selected or produced. Soils that are too rich in nutrients make the fatty hens susceptible to frost and diseases. In the garden, you should always mix one part of the soil with two parts of sand or gravel so that the required permeability is achieved.
If you want to cultivate the sedum plant or stonecrop in a pot, nutrient-poor soil is very suitable. With its low nutrient content, it optimally meets the requirements of the Sedum species. For improved permeability, a third of sand should be added and a drainage layer made of stones, gravel, or potsherds should be placed on the bottom of the vessel.
The sedum plant or stonecrop can generally be planted all year round. The best time, however, is spring, as the plants have enough time until autumn to grow and develop.
Care of the sedum plant
The sedum plant is very easy to care for. If it is in the right location, it will thrive without much effort. However, you should pay attention to a few peculiarities.
Cut the sedum plant
The flat, carpet-forming stonecrop varieties do not need to be cut. If they get too big, parts of the rhizomes can be separated and replanted in other places.
The higher adipose hens are cut compatible and can be cut, for example, in autumn. You can make pretty autumn wreaths or bouquets from the decorative flowers, for example in combination with rose hips and heather.
Due to their special ornamental value, however, the flower stalks can also be wonderfully left standing all winter and only cut in the following spring before the new shoots. The stalks with the lush inflorescences are then dried up and can be shortened by one to two-thirds. Lignified plant parts should be cut off close to the ground so that the perennials are rejuvenated and can then sprout again vigorously.
Fertilize sedum plant and water
The sedum plant not only has a low need for nutrients, but it is also even sensitive to excessive fertilization. In addition to producing a substrate that is poor in nutrients and humus, Sedum species should not be fertilized too much. In the case of Sedum plants growing in pots, however, the substrate should occasionally be replaced or treated with a soil activator.
Excessive water supply can also damage the sedum plant and stonecrop. The drought specialists should only water infrequently and make sure that excess irrigation water drains off quickly. In this way, you can avoid that the plants become more susceptible to frosts and pests or have reduced stability.
Propagating sedum plant: this is how it works
The sedum plant can be propagated in three different ways. They can be easily propagated by division, vegetatively using cuttings, or generatively using seeds. If ground-covering Sedum species become too large, you can simply cut off a piece with a spade, carefully detach it from the substrate and plant it again in another place. Alternatively, cuttings can be cut in spring and then placed in growing containers filled with substrate. With occasional moistening, they will take root within a few weeks and can be planted out.
Propagation by seeds is also usually reliable. The seeds can be harvested and dried in October and November. They are sown in the garden or on the balcony between March and May. Since the sedum plant is one of the light germs, the seeds must not be covered with a substrate. You just press them lightly and keep the substrate moist until germination.
Is the sedum plant hardy?
The sedum plant is frost hardy with us. According to its winter hardiness zone of 6 – 7, it can withstand temperatures down to the double-digit minus range (-12 to -23 ° C) and therefore does not need winter protection.
Toxicity of the sedum plant
The sedum plant contains poisonous alkaloids and other substances such as flavonoids and glycosides, which, depending on their concentration, have a toxic effect.
Is the sedum plant poisonous for humans and animals?
Due to the mostly low concentration of toxic substances, the sedum plant is considered to be slightly toxic. However, it should be noted that the various Sedum species differ in their alkaloid content.
Can you eat the sedum plant?
Even if it is only considered to be slightly poisonous, the sedum plant should not be eaten.