How to Grow: Sedum

Learn about growing sedums including varieties.

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podcast transcript

Sedum spp and hybridssedum

 

Other Name

stone crop

 

Sun Requirements

full sun, part sun

 

Bloom Period and Seasonal Color

Mid summer into fall in colors such as pink, red, white and yellow

 

Mature Height x Spread

4 to 24 inches x 1 to 2 feet

 

Added Benefits

attracts beneficials, drought tolerant

 

Sedums are a versatile group of plants. Some are low growing ground covers, while other sedums are taller growing making good companions in the flower border. All sedums have fleshy leaves and colorful flowers that look good even after they’re past their prime. The fleshy leaves hold moisture making this an excellent plant for dry areas and some varieties have attractive foliage as well. While the creeping forms will spread and form a low growing mat of foliage over time, tall garden sedums are more clump forming and stand up well with next to tall garden perennials for a late summer flower show. I often leave my tall sedums in the garden well after they have finished flowering because the dried flowers still look attractive.

 

Where, When and How to Plant

Sedums are hardy throughout New England. Plant locally purchased transplants or divisions from a friend’s garden from spring to early fall in full or part sun on well-drained soil. Sedum plants grow best with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. Space creeping varieties 6 inches to 1 foot apart and tall varieties 1 to 2 feet apart.

 

Growing Tips

Keep young plants well watered. Older plants are drought tolerant. Sedums don’t need highly fertile soils to grow well.  Add a light layer of compost each spring.

 

Regional Advice and Care

Tall sedums may get leggy and flop over, especially if grown in a part sun location. Cage plants to keep them upright, or pinch new growth in spring to promote more branching and shorter plants. Divide tall sedums every few years once the center of the clump starts to die out. Dig clumps in spring, divide into wedge-shaped sections and replant in a similar location or give plants away. Since the dried flower heads are equally as attractive as the flower head in full bloom, don’t deadhead sedums. After a freeze, cut the whole plant back to the ground and compost the tops.

 

Companion Planting and Design

Creeping sedum varieties grow best in rock gardens or along a flower border. Pair them with other low growing flowers such as alyssum. Tall garden sedum varieties grow well with other summer bloomers, such as coneflowers, rudbeckia, and Russian sage.

 

Try These

“Autumn Joy” is the best-known tall sedum. It has pink flower buds opening to a copper color on a hardy 2-foot tall plant. “Elsie Gold” is similar to “Autumn Joy”, but has cream-colored leaf edges. “Maestro” has beautiful mauve-colored flowers and burgundy colored leaves that makes this an attractive perennial even when not in bloom. “Cloud Nine” has variegated leaves.

 

For low growing varieties “Vera Jamison” grows less than 1 foot tall with pink flowers and dark colored foliage. Sedum kamtschaticum is a creeping species that has pink flower buds that open to yellow flowers. There is also a variegated leaf version as well.

Excerpted from my book, New England Getting Started Garden Guide.

Podcast Transcript

This common flower’s botanical name means “to sit,” probably for the way it creeps along rocks. It is also called rocky stonecrop in England for the way it’s perched on cliffs. We know it as sedum.

Sedums mostly fall into two categories; creeping types, and 1 to 2 foot tall, vertical types. Sedums have fleshy, succulent, sometimes colorful leaves, and small flowers that form in packed clusters with colors such as white, pink, yellow, red, and purple. The tall varieties tend to be fall bloomers. ‘Autumn Joy’ is probably the most common of this type. ‘Frosted Fire’ has pink flowers and variegated white and green leaves, while, ‘Purple Emperor’ has maroon-red leaves and stalks, with light purple colored flowers.

Low growing sedums bloom mostly in spring and early summer. These include ‘Eclair’ with white flowers, “Hab Gray” with blue gray leaves and white flowers, and “Sweet and Sour” Russian sedum with yellow flowers and green and white leaves.

To grow sedum, select hardy varieties for your area and plant in well drained soil and full sun. Sedum is poor soil, heat and drought tolerant. Some of the creeping natives will grow fine even in part shade. One of the advantages of sedum is that after the flowers fade, the heads still look attractive in the garden. Grow the creepers over rock walls, in containers or in the front of flower borders. Taller varieties look good mixed with other fall bloomers such as goldenrod, rudbeckia, and dwarf asters. Tall sedums can get leggy and flop, so cage them up and periodically divide the plants in spring to make more plants and invigorate the mother plant.

From the Vermont Garden Journal

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