Sedum spathulifolium (Broadleaf Stonecrop)

sedum spathulifolium

Sedum spathulifolium, also known as broadleaf stonecrop, spoon-leaved stonecrop, cape blanco, or yellow stonecrop , is a small succulent groundcover that grows well in sunny areas with good drainage and average watering. It thrives as both an indoor and outdoor plant, making it an excellent choice for landscaping on both large and small scales.

A drought-tolerant perennial that requires little maintenance, Sedum spathulifolium (Broadleaf Stonecrop) provides colorful foliage and small flowers through the summer months in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9.

Varieties of the plant include Sunny Border and Strawberry Fields, which have green foliage and pink flowers, respectively. Sedum spathulifolium only needs to be planted once as it will remain for many years without additional care.

Sedum spathulifolium (Broadleaf Stonecrop) is easy to recognize, even if you’re new to growing succulents! This article will take you through everything you need to know about broadleaf stonecrop care, so that it’s as easy as possible for you to grow these fascinating plants.

Origin and distribution

Sedum spathulifolium, also known as cape blanco, is a semi-evergreen species of stonecrop native to California, Spain and Portugal.

These plants are cultivated as garden ornamental plants in parts of southern California and Australia. They grow well in temperate climates with hot summers and mild winters, providing they are planted in well-drained soil that does not stay too wet.

This plant grows best in full sun but will tolerate light shade. It can be propagated by division or from seed.

It is hardy down to -20°C (-4°F). This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Sedum spathulifolium propagation

sedum spathulifolium

Typically, Sedum spathulifolium plants are propagated from seeds. The easiest way to propagate broadleaf stonecrop is through the division of existing plants in fall or early spring. If you want to start many plants at once, spread gravel over a flat surface and place a 1⁄4 layer of small pebbles on top. Plant individual sedums among them to ensure proper spacing and excellent drainage.

Even after planting, make sure that there are still some stones on top for good drainage. It’s also possible to grow Sedum spathulifolium from cuttings taken during late summer.

Cut a 2-inch piece off of an established plant, remove any leaves and dip it into rooting hormone before placing it into moist soil. Cover with plastic wrap and wait until new growth appears before removing it from its container.

Be aware that these plants are sensitive to root disturbance so be careful when transplanting them into their permanent location. Keep your young sedum plants well-watered but not overly wet. Once they have become established, they will tolerate dry conditions better than overwatering.

Sedum spathulifolium care information

sedum spathulifolium

Broadleaf stonecrop care is very easy. Cape Blanco, yellow stonecrop is most often cultivated as a small potted plant or grown in a rock garden. It grows well in sandy soil and can even tolerate drought conditions if kept well-watered.

In USDA zones 5-9, it grows best in full sun. It prefers temperatures between 40 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit; in cooler areas, it may die back to ground level during winter months.

Light requirement

These tough plants do best in partial shade and will even tolerate a little bit of full sun, but if you’re growing them in an area that gets a lot of direct sunlight, be sure to give them some afternoon shade. In particularly sunny areas, it might also be helpful to mulch around their base with pine needles or bark.

Soil/potting mix

When potting up your Sedum spathulifolium, choose a soil mix with plenty of peat moss or vermiculite to provide adequate drainage. A pH level between 5.5 and 6.0 is ideal for keeping your stonecrops healthy.

One part garden soil, one part peat moss, and one part vermiculite or perlite make an excellent planting medium for these succulent plants. You can also add compost to your mixture if you have it on hand. If you don’t want to use commercial potting mixes, try mixing equal parts sand, compost, and topsoil together instead.

Watering

Like most succulents, water your broadleaf stonecrop in late fall or early winter before new growth appears. The optimal time to water is once every week or two since it won’t tolerate wet roots for long periods of time. A good rule of thumb is to allow the soil to dry out between watering periods.

This can take as little as a few days if your plant is outside in the full sun and as long as several weeks if you keep it indoors in low light and near a heat source.

Fertilizer

Give your yellow stonecrop an all-purpose, granular fertilizer with a ratio of 5-10-5 every 2 to 3 months in spring and summer. Don’t give it fertilizer during fall or winter because it will encourage new growth that could be killed by frost. If you want to use a slow-release fertilizer, sprinkle 10 pounds around each plant at planting time.

You can also use liquid fertilizers such as fish emulsion or seaweed extract diluted according to package directions. If you don’t fertilize regularly, you may find your plant is lacking in vigor when it comes time for flowering; if so, apply a high-nitrogen formula such as 20-20-20 at 1/4 cup per plant per month from April through September.

Temperature

Broadleaf stonecrop plants thrive in warm, humid summer conditions. Provide them with bright light and temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit during their active growing season. In winter, cut back on watering and bring soil temps down to around 50 degrees F.

This will put your sedum spathulifolium into a dormant state that mimics the natural environment of Europe, where they grow in high mountain meadows above the tree lines.

Humidity

With moderate humidity and proper air circulation, you can expect sedum spathulifolium to grow well. If it dries out too quickly between waterings, it is likely to lose its leaves.

The ideal humidity range is between 40 and 60 percent.

A humidity level below 40 percent will cause your plant to lose its leaves. A level above 60 percent may cause root rot. You can use a hygrometer to measure the relative humidity in your home or office, but remember that these devices can be off by as much as 10 percent, so it’s important to check with other sources as well.

Pruning

Keep the plants in pots pruned during autumn to control height. Prune off stems that are no longer viable, leaving at least three remaining stems per plant. Plants that are left unpruned can become top-heavy and easily tip over. Remove old flower heads throughout summer to keep plants looking tidy and remove any winter damage.

When to repot

Repot in spring, if new growth emerges and there’s room in your pot. The best time to repot sedums is just before they start actively growing in spring. They tend to resent being disturbed, so only repot when you need to; ideally, once every two years or so.

You can tell a sedum needs repotting when it becomes rootbound, its roots encircle or weave around each other, wrapping themselves tightly together until not much soil is left for new growth. When repots are necessary, gently remove any circling roots with a knife or pruning shears.

Make sure to keep as much of that healthy top growth intact as possible! It’ll help provide energy for regrowth. If you don’t have room in your existing pot, transfer it into one that has plenty of space. And be sure to use fresh potting mix; never use old mix from an older plant!

Dormancy/Winter rest

Sedum spathulifolium requires winter dormancy and should be kept completely dry from October through April. If you live in a milder climate and can allow for some degree of moisture to reach your sedums throughout their winter rest period, they will be much happier.

However, if your growing area is too cold and/or dry at any point during its dormancy, it may die back completely. It’s better to keep them completely dry than risk losing your plants due to water damage.

You can also grow Sedum spathulifolium as an annual in colder climates, by bringing it indoors before temperatures drop below freezing. The plant will enter dormancy soon after being brought inside, so keeping it warm and dry until spring is important.

Once temperatures begin to rise again in spring, move your plant outside once more where it can continue its growth cycle.

Sedum spathulifolium flower & fragrance

sedum spathulifolium

Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’ bears creamy white flowers in summer and has a faint sweet fragrance. Its palmate leaves are also divided into lobes, giving it an ornamental look that adds to its appeal as a groundcover.

It reaches a height of 8-12 inches and spreads to about 18 inches, making it a good choice for edging walkways and planting between stepping stones or pavers.

Growth rate

Sedum spathulifolium is typically a low-growing plant, which makes it perfect for succulent gardens and rock gardens. While dwarf varieties of Sedum can grow as high as 3-4 inches, most garden types only grow between 1-3 inches in height.

Because of its low-growing nature, Sedum is a great choice for landscaping around buildings and other features you want to minimize obstruction.

Toxicity

Although there is little danger in handling broadleaf stonecrop, it is mildly toxic to animals if ingested. Be sure not to feed your pet any parts of your sedum spathulifolium.

USDA hardiness zones

Sedum spathulifolium thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 5-9. It is especially well suited to growing in hot, dry climates. The plant grows best when planted in full sun, but can tolerate partial shade as well.

Pests and diseases

Broadleaf stonecrop is susceptible to infection by rust, downy mildew, and leaf spots. Aphids can also cause problems in dry weather. The most serious problem facing stonecrops is a lack of good drainage.

Some gardeners have had good luck transplanting sedums while they are still in pots. This allows you to choose a container with excellent drainage that will minimize problems when transplanting into your garden in spring or fall.

Sedum spathulifolium is a low-maintenance plant. However, if pests or diseases do occur, pesticides should be used with caution; it’s best to avoid them altogether by taking advantage of crop rotation and using companion plants that repel insects.

Improperly treating pest infestations can cause damage to neighboring plants as well. However, if chemicals are needed, products from reputable companies are usually both effective and safe when used correctly.

Conclusion

Sedum spathulifolium is a succulent plant that requires moderate to bright light. It does not tolerate direct sunlight. It grows best in soil that drains well, although it can be potted in the cactus mix.

If you’re looking for a carefree plant that requires little attention, broadleaf stonecrop is a good choice for you. The hardiness zone of sedum spathulifolium is 6b-10 and its average height is 10 inches tall.