Sedum rupestre

Asked February 21, 2019, 11:17 AM EST

There is a lot of a sedum groundcover throughout my landscape (see lower left corner of attached photo). I believe it is Sedum Rupestre. In many ways, it is a great groundcover. However, the flowering/seeding phase tends to leave the whole landscape looking sloppy. With few mature trees near my home, most of the landscape is low-growing so having these flowers pop up anywhere and everywhere leaves the yard looking like a mess, almost as if I have failed to mow my lawn for a few weeks. I can tolerate this for the relatively short flowering phase, but then the flowers dry, leaving the tall seed pods which do not seem to naturally separate from the plant. I have removed these by hand for each of the last several years but this is very time-consuming. Perhaps this just isn’t the best ground cover for large areas, but before I start replacing it, I would like to learn more about the plant. Is there a better solution? Is there a way to shorten the flowering time? Or a better way to remove the seed pods/flowers? How does this plant grow? My observations have been that the flowers grow from the older stems which, rather quickly, grow taller with increased petiole spacing. Is this really a biennial? It grows very well in my yard and spreads easily. I have had to trim it aggressively in some areas to keep it from crowding out other plants. I appreciate the winter color and the varied texture it provides to the landscape. I would much rather find a way to work with this plant than get rid of it. Do you have any recommendations?

Ottawa County Michigan ornamental ground cover

1 Response

Sedum repestre (a.k.a. Sedum reflexum) can provoke a love/hate relationship with the grower. Although it is fairly easy to control, it can at times look messy especially after the flowers are exhausted. Since the plant is shallow rooted it should easily pull up; however, as you probably know, the plant parts easily reroot. These perennial (not biennial) sedums are long day plants so unless you can keep their photoperiod to less than 13 hours they will flower. Seed pods can be removed using hedge shears or as some suggested a string trimmer (could be tricky). Clove, irish moss, lily turf, ajuga et al can be used as lawn/ground cover alternatives, but all come with their own pros and cons. Check out the following links:

https://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/resources/pdfs/lawns_for_pollinators.pdf

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/shady_lawn_alternatives

I hope this helps,