Short Sedum: Perennial Ground Cover

sedum sunset cloud
sedum ground cover
Sedum, ‘Dragon’s Blood’ has formed a tight soil erosion barrier along the front edge of this steep hill-side flowerbed.

Sedum is a beautiful perennial that stabilizes the soils of the west with its many talents. First is its ability to edge a flower bed. The short groundcover size of sedum fills in along the fronts of flowerbeds and gives a neat, finished appearance but it also acts as a weed and erosion barrier. Sedums are semi-evergreen in winter so they look excellent year around. Sedums are far more attractive and economical than bark so they are a win-win solution as edging or ground covers.

sedum dragons blood
Sedum, ‘Dragon’s Blood’ without blooms

Sedum will form solid elegant carpeting of tight foliage in an area to replace grass. Sedum spreads nicely but never invasively. They thrive despite neglect and poor soils while holding the soil from washing out. They are resilient and can be walked on. Creeping sedums are extremely drought tolerant for their leaves are succulent and hold water. They can be mowed with a string trimmer when they finish blooming to remove any spent blooms but if the dried flowers are left they eventually seem to disappear.

Propagating sedums by pulling a few stems from a clump and replanting them will result in a 95% success rate. Sedums with their easy care propagating abilities are totally self-sustaining. They are often used on rooftop gardens because they provide an ecologically green surface that reduces greenhouse gasses by releasing oxygen. Roof gardens for creeping sedums are a natural fit because stonecrop thrives in full sun, poor soils in a well-drained site and rarely needs additional watering. For these same reasons sedum will grow in any difficult spot.

Sedum acre or goldmoss stonecrop is the only sedum that can be invasive. One small piece dropped anywhere will sprout and grow.

Rose-Live-Forever with its alpine toughness and affinity for alkaline soils are perennials that are comfortable growing between stepping stones or in rock gardens. Their soil-holding services come in a variety of foliage and flower colors. ‘Variegatum Kamtchaticum’ blooms yellow over creamy bordered leaves and brightens a June garden. The flower blooms persist, meaning they dry, turning orange and lasting into late fall. Sedums act as an economical, excellent substitute for traditional annuals that are usually planted as edgings. As sedum spreads, a gardener’s costs and work becomes less and less.

‘Variegated Kamchaticum’
‘Variegated Kamchaticum’

Sedum ‘Sunset Cloud’ with its dark red foliage and star-shaped flowers, blooms in late summer and is more petite than many creeping sedum ground covers. The dark foliage contrasts nicely over rocks or spilling over the edge of a container plant.

sedum sunset cloud
Sedum, ‘Sunset Cloud’

Sedums are the hardiest perennial to grow in Rocky Mountain gardens. Their common names, stonecrop and rose-live-forever are appropriate names because only stones need less care and are longer lived than sedums.

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