The charm of tiny sedums

With water conservation in mind, I am always on the look-out for drought tolerant additions to my landscape, and a few years back I came across the wonderful sedums.

Commonly called ‘stonecrops,’ sedums are a large grouping of low-growing, flowering groundcovers in the Crassulaceae family. Sedums store water in their leaves (succulent), making them drought tolerant and a fine addition for sun to part-shade locations in xeriscape gardens.

With over 400 species in this rather large family of plants, sedums come in a wide array of flower colors, leaf colors, and textures. Most are under 6 inches in height.

One of my favorites is dragon’s blood. With the proper light exposure, this low groundcover puts on a show of brilliant red foliage with red flowers in the late spring and summer. And when the cool weather of fall arrives, the leaves turn orange-red.

Sedum anjelica displays golden-yellow leaves with a tinge of green – almost like lime. This trailing groundcover creates yellow flowers through the summer.

Sedum tricolor has green and white variegation with red along the leaf edge. Drought tolerant and spreading in form, it displays tiny pink flowers through June and July.

Another pretty variegated (green and white leaf) sedum is lineare. This beauty grows to a height of 4 inches and makes a dense mat of foliage with bright yellow flowers.

These stonecrops are perfect for our climate. If you are looking for a flowering groundcover that’s drought tolerant, thrives in poor and shallow soil, and flowers, then this is a perfect choice.

Sedums are easily grown in pots and baskets, often cascading off the edge. They make great additions to mixed succulent plantings which seems to be “the in-thing” in garden publications these days.

Also as more people experiment with living, green roofs, many are finding sedum to be preferable to grass. Ford’s truck plant in Michigan has 10.4 acres of sedum on its roof, and the Rolls Royce factory in England also has a vast sedum-covered roof.

P.S. There is a native stand of sedum along the rock outcroppings on Oak Grove road skirting Elliott Ranch. In the summer, these succulents turn yellow for a month or two, amazingly with less than a half an inch of soil.

Happy gardening everyone!

If you have a question for Chris, send it via email to iathyme@yahoo.com.  Or mail a postcard to It’s About Thyme: 11726 Manchaca Road, Austin, TX 78748  www.itsaboutthyme.com

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