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A sedum by any other name would still be a sedum

Common Name : Stonecrop, sedum, orpine, live-for-ever, hens and chickens… we could go on

Science-y Name : Aizopsis, Crassula, Hylotelephium, Phedimus, Rhodiola, Sedum, Sempervivum. All of these are genus under the family Crassulaceae and can be found in gardens and yards throughout New England. A quick review of how plants and animals are ranked and named: domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. So by the time you are reading a plant name it’s already been filtered through 6 other taxonomies; which is just the fancy science way to say classifications.

A Few Other Varieties : Sempervivum tectorum (hens and chickens), H. spectabile (showy orpine), A. kamtschatica (orange stonecrop)

Native or Non : Varieties found in gardens and planned landscapes in New Hampshire tend to be from Asia and Europe. Native varieties such as R. rosea (roseroot) are found in Vermont and Maine; usually in wild settings.

Characteristics : No matter their size, sedum tend toward the plump and juicy look. They have some of the most interesting leaf and flower shapes, and are also becoming a popular indoor plant. With the proper care, which is relatively minimal, they will thrive either inside or outside. Pick a sunny location with well drained soil and sedum should do just fine.

Most varieties hug the ground, or crevices in a rock or cement wall, like gold moss stonecrop. Some create a carpet-like cover when they’ve found a happy home. And other varieties are good at hanging over the edge of a wall, like creeping stonecrop. You might see those labeled as a trailing or cascading sedum.

The variet Autumn Joy, a mix of Sedum spectabile and Sedum telephium, literally stands tall

among sedum. Stalks of this variety can reach up to 2 feet tall and develop wonderful pink, cauliflower like flower heads in the later summer and early fall. We’ve seen some truly impressive selections of this variety in some gardens.

Fun Fact : Sedum can hold their breath! Well, a plant version of holding their breath. Plants transpire, which means they lose water through evaporation. This evaporation happens through their pores, also known as stoma. The majority of plants keep their stoma open all the time for processing carbon dioxide (CO2), which is vital to photosynthesis.

Quick refresher, photosynthesis is the process plants use to create their own food. Photosynthesis needs a mix of sunlight, CO2 and water.

Sedum, which thrive in dry environments, hold onto their moisture by closing their stoma during the day when it tends to be hottest and driest. They open their stoma at night to take in the necessary CO2 so they can continue the process of photosynthesis.

Care Considerations : Choose sunny spots with well drained soils for sedum. And that’s about it! RAG Thyme gardeners will check the plant for rot, which could indicate the soil is too moist or not sunny enough. These are perfect plants for adding interest to stone or cement walls, or filling in those dry corners of a garden bed that don’t seem to support anything else.

Contact us to get an estimate on RAG Thyme services for your yard and garden! We’ll help existing plants stay brilliant, or suggest alternatives with as much beauty and personality.

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