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Native Plants: Woodland Stonecrop

Short, sturdy, super sedum!

native sedum ternatum in bloom in spring
Woodland Stonecrop in Spring

Woodland stone crop, also sometimes called three leaf stonecrop (Sedum ternatum), is oh so short. Descriptions say it grows 3" to 6" tall and that must include the short spike flowers that arrive in spring. Most of the year, it's a couple of inches tall at best. Even so, this sedum native to the Chesapeake is a superb addition to your garden.

Woodland stonecrop grows in sun or shade though does best where there is some shade during the day. It grows in average or moist soils. It needs no maintenance and tolerates drought. It is evergreen. It is the superwoman of short native plants! This is often why it used on green roofs.

Three Leaf Stonecrop & Heuchera 'Frosted Violet'
Woodland Stonecrop Filling in Bare Space Along a Path

In early spring, woodland stonecrop turns a refreshing kiwi green, so welcome! Soon after, short white flowers appear. For the rest of the summer the succulent foliage keeps on going.

Three Leaf Stonecrop Growing Among Perennials in Dappled Shade
Woodland Stonecrop Growing Among Perennials in Dappled Shade

The very best thing is this sedum will find locations it likes and spread. In my experience, it only spreads to areas with bare soil, moss or occasionally pea gravel. It doesn't seem to be able to grow in grass or heavily mulched areas. It is the perfect 'living' or 'green' mulch.

three leaf stonecrop in sun

In sunnier areas, woodland stonecrop leaves seem to remain a bit smaller. In moister areas, leaves grow larger.

woodland stonecrop growing in a tree stump

Here, woodland stonecrop seeded into the center of the stump of a small tree. In fall and winter, the foliage may take on a reddish cast depending on its location.

If you have crevices such as a stacked stone wall where you want to add plants, this native sedum is just the thing. It will grow in very tight spaces and with little soil.

Three Leaf Stonecrop For Sale at Wildflower Native Plants
Woodland Stonecrop For Sale at Wildflower Native Plant Nursery

One strategy for adding woodland stonecrop to your garden is to select a couple of spots you think it might like, or you would like, and add a plant to each spot. Within a year, you will know whether it likes its location. This plant is also really easy to divide. You can take a quart size plant in a pot, gently pull it apart and plant a bit in different places.

Woodland stonecrop is usually always available at native plant nurseries and often available at garden centers. It is also available here or here by mail.

Woodland stonecrop is simple to grow and spreads sublimely but it is not tall. Happy gardening!


We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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