Stumped over which succulent to grow? Go native

Last Updated: 
March 11, 2011
Sedum

Moon Glow cultivar of Sedum spathulifolium. (Photo by Linda McMahan, OSU)

CORVALLIS, Ore. – If you'd like to grow succulents but don't know much about these drought-resistant, sun-loving plants – check out ones that are native to Oregon.

Broadleaf stonecrop, also known as Sedum spathulifolium, is one such species. Its varieties grow flowers with many colors and shapes, and the plants tend to have small, waxy-looking leaves.

"It's one of the best, and many of its varieties and color choices are available at most nurseries," said Linda McMahan, a horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service in Yamhill County. "The plants rarely are labeled as Pacific Northwest natives, so knowing their name is important."

She recommended looking for Cape Blanco, Campbell Lake, Blood Red, Moon Glow, Purpureum and Carnea. They grow well in rock gardens, raised beds, pots, old troughs and any location that has full sun and good drainage, she said. They also blend well with other succulents.They are found throughout the state – from coastal soils to rocky areas to the Columbia River Gorge to the Cascade and Siskyou Mountains.

Varieties in the Cascades and other inland sites tend to be dark green, while most on the coast are gray or whitish and are often highly ornamental or have a red tint, McMahan said.

The plant is "well-behaved" and spreads out but is not invasive, she added. It's hardy in most of Oregon and survives the state's winters better than non-native species, she said. Once established, it requires little, if any, supplemental water. It's also a home for caterpillars, and its yellow flowers attract native butterflies each June.

Author: Judy Scott
Source: Linda McMahan