Native Plant Highlight – Oregon Stonecrop (Sedum oreganum)

Small but mighty, the Sedum oreganum (Oregon Stonecrop) can bring many benefits to your garden. Easy to care for? Check. Year-round interest? Check. Habitat value? Check. If you’re looking for a versatile groundcover to fill space in less hospitable areas of your yard where other plants won’t fit or have struggled, Oregon stonecrop just might be the plant for you.

Closeup of sedums growing in between large rocks

This low-growing, evergreen groundcover is native to the Pacific Coast from California to Alaska. An adaptable plant, it grows in a variety of conditions, from cliffs and rocky slopes to forest edges at low to middle elevations. It also tolerates many types of soil, granted it gets good drainage. It prefers full sun but can handle part-shade. As is the case with other succulent-type plants, a lack of good lighting will cause it to stretch out in search of more ideal conditions. It generally grows from 1-6in tall and can spread even wider thanks to its ability to easily root into the ground as it spreads.

When it comes to foliage color, this little plant sure knows how to keep things exciting. The rising temperatures of late spring and early summer transform portions of its usually green foliage to striking shades of red, followed by bright yellow star-shaped flowers that appear in the summer and again in fall. These starry clusters become a colorful buffet for pollinators.

Native groundcovers are incredibly beneficial in the garden, and Oregon stonecrop is no different. Groundcovers help reduce lawns, protect soil from erosion, and provide habitat for beneficial insects. Sedum oreganum especially shines in its ability to handle hot and dry conditions where other plants struggle. As is the case with sedums, a helpful tip to remember is that they require very little attention in the garden. A little bit of water here and there when they’re first planted to help them establish is great. Then, once they’re established (which doesn’t seem to take long!), you can sit back and let Mother Nature take care of the rest. They’re particularly beautiful in rock gardens and planted between large stones where they can fill in crevices and cascade over edges. They can even be used to fill in space between pavers.

If you’ve decided that this tiny powerhouse is the right fit for your garden, you’re in luck! Sedum oreganum is readily available at local native plant nurseries. It’s a particularly unique option for the Pacific Northwest garden because this region, which is known for its rain, wouldn’t generally be thought of as ideal for succulent-type plants. It’s also very easy to propagate if you just can’t get enough after your first planting and want to add it to other areas of your yard as well. The pollinators will thank you!

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