The Q&A Archives: Sedum

Question: I bought some sedums and planted them in sandy, gravelly dirt on the east side of my house. The only name on the tag is '2 and 3/4" Sedum'. They're about 6 or 7 inches long with triangular fleshy leaves. On the tops are clusters of dusty pink flowers. I surrounded them with decorative gravel. The problem is the bottoms of the plants, the fleshy stars, are drying up, browning, and dying. Then the rest of the plant starts getting limp and wilting. What's going on? Is it harmful to cover the bottom stars with too much gravel? Is the east side too hot??

Answer: Sedum, or Stonecrop, are succulent perennials suitable for rock gardens. They thrive in full sunshine, but will take considerable shade, and require very little water. From your description, you're growing Sedum 'album', a creeping evergreen plant that grows about two feet tall. The fleshy leaves are 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, light to medium green, and the flowers are pinkish. This is a vigorous groundcover-type sedum and should grow well in your garden. The gravel around the plants should not present a problem. The symptoms you describe indicate the plants are being overwatered. Hold back on the water, applying only just enough to wet the rootmass once each week. Sedums make a tough, almost maintenance-free groundcover or rock garden plant. Once yours become established, you'll be happy with your choice of plants.

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