Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Native Spotlight: Sedum Ternatum

Guest Blog by Rachel Shaw

Sedum ternatum is an easy to grow shade-loving native groundcover.

Sedum ternatum in early spring
One of my favorite groundcovers is Sedum ternatum, native to much of the eastern U.S. This is a small plant, no more than six inches high including the flower stalk, which blooms for a few weeks in April or May in our area. Mine are just coming into bloom now, a little late like many other things this year.

Sedum ternatum in flower
This versatile little evergreen plant likes moist conditions and part-shade to shade, but is also reasonably drought tolerant.  In my yard it is one of the few things I have been able to grow under the dry shade of a large silver maple on a slope, together with the native Pennsylvania sedge, Carex pensylvanica.

Sedum ternatum and Carex pensylvanica
Sedum ternatum is easy to transplant. I’ve put some of mine at the edge of my gravel driveway, where it has filled in nicely, and I’m planning to put some in other spots around the yard. Just keep in mind that it is not the most rapid of spreaders, and as the plants are small, it is probably not the best choice for filling in a large space rapidly. On the other hand, if you decide for whatever reason that you need to take it out, removal is easy. But my guess is that you’ll want to spread it around the yard, not get rid of it!

About the Author
Rachel Shaw focuses on vegetable gardening and growing native plants in her small yard in Rockville, MD. She blogs at http://hummingbirdway.blogspot.com/. This guest blog post is part of a monthly Native Plants series that Rachel will be posting here around the 10th of each month.


  1. While it was slow to take hold in my shady, dry side bed, it is rewarding me now--much of it is in bloom as we speak. I think it takes a little more sun than advertized!

  2. Sweet little plant, isn't it?

    My driveway Sedum gets a lot of shade, but is really lush this year. I think it likes the combination of gravel plus all the rain we got.

  3. Anonymous11:56 AM

    Ours has taken off this year. We planted it under an ancient cherry tree in a very shady spot two years agoalongside some straggly cranesbill geraniums.. The area is neither particularly dry or wet.

  4. It's a great plant and appreciate the detailed descriptions. Especially nice to hear about a native sedum that does well in full to part shade as there are not too many of those I am aware of. Plus native is obviously great!

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  5. I love this plant but one thing that wasn't mentioned was that (sadly) deer do eat Sedum ternatum as they do all Sedums in my experience. Has anyone had a different experience?

  6. I'm sorry to hear that. I had read they were "deer resistant" but haven't had direct experience because we don't (yet) have deer problems. (Don't hate me! They are heading into our neighborhood.)

  7. Stephanie Collins9:38 AM

    FINALLY!! You just made my whole week!! I've been looking for the specific breed I have, (3rd year growing them..) I've looked on tons of gardening sights & none have had or known a thing about them... Until NOW! Thank you so much! Mine are just starting to flower, for the 1st time in 3 years! Someone gave me a few cuttings & I thought they were just plain little sedums, until they bloomed about a week ago! I'll be back to this page often

  8. I'm so glad this was helpful. I'm no longer doing these guest blogs, but it's nice to know they can still be useful. You made my week too!


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