The Sedums form a diverse group of nearly 500 species and many have been developed to produce hardy and undemanding succulent perennial plants for the gardener. The group divides into two main types, the low, carpet-forming stonecrops, and the rather taller, upright ‘ice-plants’ that have whorls of larger succulent leaves on a thick, un-branched stem. All have small, star-shaped and nectar-rich flowers, and the ice-plants in particular attract lots of butterflies and bees.
Most of the stonecrops are evergreen and have rich foliage colours that look good throughout the year. While the leaves of the ice-plants die back in the winter, the flowers age gracefully and the seed heads are an attractive feature in the winter garden.
Sedums do well alongside each other in complementary mixed plantings, and the green, red, chocolate, purple and copper-coloured varieties can be planted to form a living tapestry across areas of thin, poor soils.
With fleshy stems and leaves that store water, they are drought-tolerant and are ideal for sunny positions with freely draining, thin soils where most plants would succumb to dehydration. Both types make excellent ground cover for hot, sunny ground that is otherwise difficult to protect, though ice-plants spread slowly, so need to be established en masse for an instant effect.
This article shows just how easy Sedums are to look after, and picks out just a few examples of the amazing variety that is available.