Growing Stonecrop

 Courtesy of Tena Roush

Courtesy of Tena Roush

Today I got a Facebook message from Tena Roush wanting some help identifying a plant.  The plant pictured is a favorite in the fall garden when it reveals cluster of beautiful blooms.  Stonecrop is a perennial that provides beautiful foliage throughout the growing season and provides an impressive flash of color in the fall.

Stonecrop plants are succulent perennials that belong to the sedum genus of flowering plants.  The plants typically grow to a height of 2 feet and have succulent leaves and stems that store water. They bear flowers in colors ranging from white and yellow to shades of red. All Sedum species are commonly called ‘stonecrops’ because of their ability to withstand and thrive in dry and arid climates.  However, there is a wide range of genera among stonecrops, and the characteristics and climate conditions that they grow best in vary greatly.

As with any other plant, soil, sun and water are the most important factors for growing stonecrops. Their hardiness and attractive foliage have made them popular gardening plants around the world. Although stonecrops thrive in harsh conditions, the usual factors of sun/shade, soil and water have to be taken into account before planting them.

Soil Conditions

Since stonecrops are perennials, they require loose soil. Loosely packed soil allows air to pass through. So while planting a stonecrop plant, make sure that the soil is not packed in very tightly. Stonecrops should be planted in well-drained soil and, if possible, in a place that receives plenty of sunlight. These plants do well in normal soil and do not require a lot of compost. An excess of compost is known to have a counteractive effect on some stonecrop genera. Nevertheless, some amount of compost or peat humus may be added to enrich the soil before planting. If the stonecrop plant you’ve chosen is a cold-tolerant species, then it will be able to withstand snowfall during the winter. Such kind of stonecrop plants can be planted along the borders or sides of driveways or walkways, without any fear of the plant being affected by the cold.

Sunlight/Shade

Stonecrops are known for their ability to tolerate harsh sunshine as well as biting cold. For this reason, they can be planted in any sunlight/shade conditions ranging from complete sunlight to partially shaded areas. This quality of stonecrops make them ideal house plants as well as ornamental garden plants.

Water

Being succulents, stonecrops do not require constant watering as their leaves and stems are very efficient storehouses of water. Their ability to store water helps stonecrops survive in arid and dry regions. Young stonecrop plants need to be watered once every few days till the time their roots are well established in the soil and the foliage has developed well. But after the first few weeks, regular watering is no longer necessary. It should be noted that stonecrops do well in well-drained soil, which is why over-watering should be avoided. Also, stonecrops should ideally be planted in unglazed clay pots to help the excess water evaporate. Over-watering can have an adverse effect on the plant.

Easy-to-grow and Low Maintenance Plants

Once a stonecrop plant takes root and has grown to a moderate height, it can resist cold, heat and drought-like conditions. Due to this quality, stonecrops make good additions to any garden. Regular care is needed only when the plants are young, after which very little care is required. The beautiful flowers in various shades of pink, yellow, white and red make them great ornamental plants. For beginners or novices at gardening, growing stonecrops can be an ideal starter project. The low maintenance involved also makes stonecrops suitable for people who don’t have much time to devote to gardening.