By Bonnie L. Grant
The stonecrop is a succulent sedum plant (Sedum spp.) that is ideal for the arid areas of the garden. Growing stonecrops is one of the easier plant projects with their easy maintenance and low culture requirements. They are in the genus Crassula, which embraces many of our favorite houseplant succulents, like Jade plants, as well as old garden favorites, such as Echeveria. The stonecrop perennial plant will thrive in hot sunny locations and reward you with easy color and form.
The family of stonecrop succulents is large and encompasses low growing, trailing plants and tall spiked-flowering plants that may get up to a foot in height. All stonecrop have a rosette form and most produce a flower held above the base foliage. The leaves are thick and semi-glossy. Most stonecrop are cultivated and not found in nature but there is one wild form, Sedum ternatum.
The flowers of stonecrop perennial are rich with sweet nectar and attract bees, moths and butterflies. The colors range but are usually in the pastel family of hues. Flowers can remain on the plants well into early winter, adding dimension and interest to the succulents even as they dry.
The cultivation of stonecrops is an excellent beginning gardener project. They can grow indoors in sunny warm locations or outdoors. The stonecrop plant is perfect for container gardening, in rockeries, along paths or as part of perennial borders. Stonecrop succulents rarely have any pest problems and are unbothered by disease.
Stonecrop doesn’t have a deep root system and can be buried shallowly in soil. They cannot tolerate competition from weeds and other plants, but a mulch of small stones helps minimize such pests.
The plants need well-drained soil that is rich in organic amendment. Young plants should be watered every few days while establishing but irrigation can diminish thereafter and no supplemental water is needed in fall and winter. If planting in containers, use pots that are unglazed clay to promote evaporation of excess water. Over watering is the most common cause of problems in stonecrop.
The plants need a low nitrogen fertilizer applied a few times in the growing season.
Propagating Stonecrop Plant
Sedums are one of the easiest plants to reproduce and most members of the stonecrop family can be propagated similarly. All you need is a leaf or bit of stem. Planting stonecrop stem shallowly in a very gritty medium or lay a leaf on the surface of sandy soil will result in a new succulent in no time. The plant material will root in just a couple of weeks, producing a whole new stonecrop.
Varieties of Stonecrop
Some of the most common gift and indoor plants are in the stonecrop family. Jade plant has already been mentioned, but Kalanchoe, silver beads, string of pearls and other colorfully named succulents are also in the family. The sedums are one of the largest groups and include Pink Chablis, Carmen, Purple Emperor and the towering Autumn Joy. Autumn Joy has large flowers on a tall stem that make excellent additions to dried floral arrangements.