Another Excellent Native Plant for Shade

Another Excellent Native Plant for Shade

 Sedum ternatum is the Chicago area’s only native sedum, and unlike the sun-loving, non-native Eurasian sedum, it thrives in shade.   It is found mostly in limestone bluffs, but in my experience, it grows well in any dry shade situation.

I first discovered it at The Natural Garden and bought 2 clumps to plant within the cracks of my flagstone patio.

Beautiful, but not long-lasting in this situation.

It migrated to other shady areas around my patio where it has been rather obscure.    It will even grow and bloom under the total shade of other plants!

I used it along a stone edging in a shady area at a client’s –it’s turned out well in this  limestone-edged garden.  This is May of 2010.


Last year–2012.  Note how nicely it filled in and the profusion of bloom.

I then gave some to my daughter to plant on a shady northeast hill along the side of her house and look at the results! 


Sedum ternatum up close.  Lime green, shiny, succulent leaves define this creeping perennial.  The starlike flowers bloom in May and June.


Companions found in nature are Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadenses) and Bulblet or Bladder Fern (Cystopteris bulbifera).  Interesting litle fern–translucent bulbs form on the underside of the small, lacy fronds, which drop off and create new ferns.  I used to grow it amongst the flagstone in my patio, but it disappeared after a few years.  Worth seeking out.



7 Responses to Another Excellent Native Plant for Shade

  1. Kathy Haben June 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    Love it, and I’d love to have some! I’ll have to start looking for it.

    Thanks Pat!

  2. Kathy Haben June 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    Love it, I’ll have to look for some.

    Thanks Pat!

  3. maryann June 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    I’ve often wondered about this sedum for ground cover. Never seen one. I wonder fi it’s hard to come by. Haven’t seen it in local nurseries.

    Love your pictures.

  4. Diane Hilscher June 10, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    Nice ground cover sedum. I don’t know this one and no wonder, the USDA map has it native to Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and up into Canada but neatly going around Wisconsin and Minnesota where I now live. Never saw it in WI either where I studied natural areas all over the state.

  5. Pat Hill June 11, 2013 at 5:33 am #

    It’s available at Prairie Nursery in Wisconsin–you can find them on the web.

  6. Pat June 11, 2013 at 6:32 am #

    Used to carry it at The Natural Garden. We also had it at The Planter’s Palette — years back. Look for it under Midwest’s Natural Garden plants. All those natives are still being grown on the same grounds, lovingly attended by Victor Jaramillo.

    Real sweet plant.

  7. Christa Orum-Keller June 12, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    Hi Pat

    Thank you for featuring this so sweet and wonderful plant in your message this week! I have a planting at my home which is the perfect gentle bright carpet as you show in your photos.

    We do still grow it at Midwest Natural Garden and have been increasing our production quantities as the demand seems to be growing. We are selling the Natural Garden plants, including Sedum ternatum under the Natural Garden Natives name to fine regional Independent Garden Centers. We are working on updating our website and in the next 10 days or so, we will have an IGC locator as a feature – so your readers can insert their zip code and find out which IGCs are carrying Natural Garden Natives. Visit us soon at to find out who carries Natural Garden Natives closest to you. Thanks!

    Offhand, here are some of the IGCs who carry Natural Garden Natives and can easily obtain Sedum ternatum from us for your readers: Wasco Nursery, The Growing Place, Platt Hill Nursery, Chalet

    Again, thanks for featuring this dear, wonderful native gem!


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