No, we a re not talking about growing rocks. Instead, stonecrops are a family of plants that perform especially well in hot, dry, rocky areas.
The stonecrop, or orpine, family is a group of herbaceous succulent dicotyledons that can sometimes appear as shrubs. There is debate over just how many members of the stonecrop (Crassulaceae) family exist, but there are well over 1300 species. Nearly all varieties of stonecrop can be propagated from a single leaf, simply by sticking the broken end into some moist soil and watering regularly until roots are established.
Stonecrops have been around for nearly 100 million years. Some varieties are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves in winter, while others are evergreen. Most are low-growing, perennial ground covers that require little or no care.
Stonecrops in the garden
Areas facing drought are perfect for stonecrop plants. They need very little soil and can store water in their fleshy leaves to carry them through difficult times. The only weather that threatens stonecrops is freezing temperatures after a rain. The plants will absorb all that water and, as temperatures drop below freezing, the expanding water will rapture the plant cells and turn the leaves into black mush. Stonecrops exposed to freezing weather should be given some sort of cover as protection. For the rest of us, our stonecrop plants can thrive just about any time of year. If water becomes particularly scarce, a stonecrop’s leaves will wither and turn leathery, but they will swell back to normal as soon as water becomes available. Stonecrops make excellent border, container, xeriscape, rock, and windowsill garden plants. The flowers provide lovely accents that are appreciated by pollinators and nectar drinkers. Many stonecrop plants are edible, but be sure to properly identify research any plants before taking a bite.
While all stonecrops have fleshy leaves with a thick, waxy cuticle, the variety of shapes and colors make these plants excellent low-maintenance additions to practically any landscape. Their geometric patterns can be quite lovely. While Jade plants are one of the most common stonecrops, Echeveria (the pale green plant in the photo) and Sedum plants are recognized for their beauty and ease of care. The shares of these amazing plants is so striking that potted collections can often be sold for well over $100. As easy as these plants are to propagate, however, there is no need to spend that kind of money. Find a friend who already has a few specimens, trade some of your own, and get creative with a container or garden location!
I hope this information inspires you to grow more of your own food. You can ask your garden questions on my Home page.