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Sedum dendroideum (Tree Stonecrop)
Sedum dendroideum (Tree Stonecrop) is a small, succulent shrub up to 3 feet (90 cm) tall and up to 4 feet (1.2 m) wide. It is often…
Drought resistance is becoming an increasingly important issue in many areas. Increasing shortages and rising costs mean that in drier regions water for gardens may not be available, and in many areas, people want to conserve our precious fresh water supplies. These concerns have produced a whole new style – xeric gardening – which puts the emphasis on plants that don’t need constant watering and that can survive, and even thrive, in drought conditions. Of course, many gardens have hot, dry areas, or sandy soil, so we have always had plants that tolerate drought, it’s just that they are becoming more prominent. Right at the top of any list of xeric plants, and really ideal for any part of the garden that is sunny and dry, are the Sedums, a big group of plants that are very diverse, but that all have one thing in common – they revel in sun and dryness.
We can divide Sedums into two categories. First there are all the ones that crawl and sprawl across the ground, making great ground-cover over rocks and shallow soil, or anywhere that is sunny and dry. These are obvious choices if you have areas like that – and most gardens certainly do. They can be used alone to cover barren areas or planted beneath taller bushes and trees. They wind their way between rocks, and scramble over banks and down slopes. You can even make a natural, drought-resistant ‘lawn’ out of some, and walking on them from time to time won’t do any harm. These spreaders can be used in narrow beds on terraced slopes just as effectively as the can be used in a rock garden, and they look great covering the ground in pots and planters too. Sometimes terraces are built directly on the ground, with gaps between the stones. Crazy paving always has gaps that need filling. Rather than let weeds grow, plant some Sedums in those cracks – they will thrive, filling the spaces with color and interest, and a colorful tapestry effect is easy to achieve.
There is a growing movement towards ‘living roofs’, on buildings of all sizes, and Sedums are perfect for this. They create a green covering over surfaces with virtually no soil and they grow well even in gravel. They can also be planted in vertical walls, and these plants can be used imaginatively to bring life to places where nothing else will grow.
The other group of Sedums are taller, more like small bushes, but they are just as drought-resistant. Plant them as you would shrubs, along the front of beds, or beside a path or driveway. Just as drought resistant, these plants are great way to give some height to dry areas, or pockets with little soil in them. Of course, this division based on size is not absolute, because there are Sedums all the way from flat on the ground to 3 feet tall, but for practical purposes the low growers, with persistent stems that we use as ground cover can be separated from taller, clump-forming ones that re-sprout each year from their base.