Sempervivum vs Sedum: 6 Interesting Differences and Similarities

Sempervivum and Sedum are succulents in the family Crassulaceae which means that there are a lot of similarities. That is probably why it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between them both.

And that’s not uncommon because both plant types are hardy succulents. There are some fundamental differences in their genus, of course, but the way they grow is largely the same.

If you’ve been having trouble telling them apart, we are here to help you out. Here’s a look at Sempervivum vs Sedum.

sempervivum vs sedum

Sempervivum vs Sedum: Differences

Here’s how both these hardy succulents are different from each other.

1. Growth Pattern

Sedums are grown as a ground cover in xeric gardens and on green roofs. They are space fillers that don’t create a nuisance because they are not invasive species.

Sempervivums, on the other hand, have a strong growth habit that spread as they grow to create a colony—as their common name ‘hens and chicks‘ suggests.

sempervivum hens and chicks

2. Appearance

Sedums have sprawling stems and succulent leaves that are in different shapes and colors. The flowers form clusters and are red, pink or white in color. Sempervivums grow in the shape of rosettes from the center and have a spiral pattern.

3. Flowering Style

Sedums are usually grown in containers and their flowers are intricate and look like broccoli. They bloom in the late summer months and fall.

sedum suaveolens
Sedum suaveolens

Sempervivums spread because they grow with stolons. Their flowers start out in clusters but grow into large, individual flowers that are flat-faced and star-shaped.

And they are monocarpic, which is why they die after the seed is formed.

Sempervivum vs Sedum: Similarities

There’s more that unites these two flowering succulents than divides them. Here are some details.

1. Soil Requirements

Like most succulents, both these varieties can need well-draining soil. Sandy soil is good enough as they are capable of growing fairly well in drought conditions. If you are dealing with heavy soil, you can add peat to lighten it. It will also improve drainage. Make sure the soil pH is neutral and between 6.6 and 7.5.

2. Climate Compatibility

Both these types of succulents can grow in bad conditions while getting little care. They are winter growers and do well when the temperature drops. They can even tolerate frosts. During the summer, they enter a semi-dormant state and stop growing, but they won’t exactly die.

sedum spurium 'dragon's blood'
Sedum spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’ covered in frost

3. Growth Add-Ons

They also need full sunlight and a little bit of organic matter to flourish. Adding mineral mulch like pebbles or lava rock will also help their growth. And both of them have thick and fleshy leaves, which help them retain water and moisture.

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How To Care For Sempervivum and Sedum

There are a few specific differences in the way both plants are to be taken care of. Here are the instructions for each of them.

Sedum Care Guide

sedum care

These plants are very easy to maintain if you plant them in well-draining soil. It should be gravelly, loose, loamy or sandy. Make sure they get at least 6 hours of full sunlight and they will take care of the rest themselves.

You don’t need to remove spent blooms, also called deadheading, to promote growth or keep them good-looking in the winter. But they don’t do well in extreme weather. So, too much sun or not enough of it can make them look leggy.

Once the flowering season is over, you can cut the plants so that they look sturdy and bushy. And water the plant once a week so that it doesn’t dry out.

Related Post:
130+ Attractive Sedum Varieties [With Pictures]

Sempervivum Care Guide

Sempervivum plants also need well-draining compost that has 25-50 percent grit of some kind. You can grow them in the ground, on rock piles or wood. Most of these plants are frost-hardy, which means you don’t need to worry about a drop in the temperature.

sempervivum in frost
Sempervivum covered in frost

But not all varieties are this way. If you have a Sempervivum which is sensitive to frost, you should try to grow it in a pot and bring it indoors in the winter. These plants are also monocarpic, which means they will die once the rosette flowers. At that time, you should remove the rosette and fill up that space with coarse or gritty soil.

Soon enough, you will see that the plant will grow offsets and fill up the empty space. You can also propagate these offsets.


So, the big difference between these types of plants is that they are genetically different from each other. This is probably why there is no known hybrid between the two genera. But both of them are extremely compatible and can be grown in similar conditions.

In fact, the way they grow is actually complementary to each other. They also come in different colors, which will help you play mix and match in the garden. And the flowers change with the seasons which can add depth and texture to your garden.