Japanese Stonecrop – Sedum sieboldii

In its natural habitat, or grown in a rockery, Japanese Stonecrop has a creeping, prostrate habit. When grown in a container the long stems trail over the edges, which makes the plant very suitable for a hanging basket.

The plant is best grown indoors during winter, although in mild areas of Britain it can be grown outdoors all year.

Although Japanese Stonecrop is a deciduous succulent plants grown indoors will retain their leaves much longer than those grown outside. On outdoor plants the leaves turn reddish-purple when the weather turns colder, then wither and die.

Round, flat leaves grow in threes along the stems. They are blue-green and are covered in a powdery wax; the leaf margins are scalloped and are tinged with pink.

Another form that is popular as a house plant is Sedum sieboldii ‘Mediovoriegatum’. It has a white or creamy patch in the centre of each leaf.

In October, dense clusters of pink flowers which last about a month are borne at the tips of the stems. Like all succulents, Japanese Stonecrop can survive with very little water. A few weeks without water while you are away will not have a damaging effect.Japanese Stonecrop - Sedum sieboldii

The plant only grows to a height of 5-8cm (2-3in), but its stems can grow to a length of 20-25cm (8— 10in). The flower clusters are generally about 8— 10cm (2-3in) in diameter. Japanese Stonecrop has a medium growth rate.

Display ideas

Like other plants with hanging or trailing stems, Japanese Stonecrop naturally looks very attractive when planted in a hanging basket, and looks spectacular when it is in flower, with the flower clusters grouped at the ends of the stems. It is also suitable for growing in an ordinary pot—either placed on a shelf or windowsill or displayed on a pedestal. If you put it outside in summer, place it off the ground on a low wall or ledge or hang it up so that its trailing stems can hang down prettily.

Looking after your plant

Japanese Stonecrop is a deciduous succulent; its vegetation dies down in the winter and new growth appears in the spring. After the flowers have faded, remove them, otherwise leave the plant to die back naturally. The plant needs a period of dormancy from December until March, and you should keep it at 7-10°C (45-50°F), and place it in a partially shaded position.

Bring the plant into bright light in late March and begin to give it a little more water. Tiny grey rosettes will appear at the base of the old stems. These eventually grow into the hanging shoots. Water more regularly and feed every 2 weeks once the stems begin to lengthen. Remove the old stems from the plant at this time. You can put the plant outside in late May or early June.

It is easy to divide new plants that have grown too large. Carefully cut through the root ball to make 2-3 new sections, depending on the size of the plant. This is best done just before growth begins in spring.

Pests And Diseases

Japanese Stonecrop is seldom attacked by pests or disease in a serious way. Even if it is, the problem normally disappears as the plant withers and dies down for its annual rest in the winter.

The sticky substance known as honeydew on leaves is a sign of aphids. Treatment: You should be able to remove these easily by spraying the plant or holding the leaves under a gentle flow of water. Avoid using an insecticide; most of them contain a substance which will spoil the smooth, waxy surface on the leaves.

Scale insects and mealy bugs may also attack.

Treatment: Remove with a cotton bud dipped in diluted methylated spirit.

PLANT CARE

This is an easy plant, given the right light conditions. Cut off withered flowers. Leave dead stems on the plant during the resting season and remove them in the spring when the plant’s new growth has started.

  • Potting: Repot in spring, using a mixture of 3 parts soil-based compost to 2 parts coarse sand or Perlite and 1 part leaf mould or peat.
  • Water moderately in the growing season, allowing the compost to dry out a little between applications. Water very sparingly in winter.
  • Feeding: Feed every 2 weeks in the growing season, beginning when new shoots appear, and continue until the autumn. Use a dilute solution of a standard liquid fertilizer.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: Place Japanese Stonecrop in a position where it will get full sun in summer. During the resting period place in partial shade.
  • Temperature: It will tolerate normal room or outdoor temperatures in summer. From December—March, keep at 7-10°C (45-50°F).

Buying Tips

  • Available in late spring or summer. If you cannot find it at local garden centres or nurseries, try a cactus grower.
  • Choose a plant with good growth and firm but fleshy leaves.
  • It will live for many years.
  • Japanese Stonecrop is a deciduous succulent that produces dainty flowers in the autumn. Grown in a container, its long stems will spill over the edge of the pot.

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