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All About Sedum

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Many gardeners are looking for low-maintenance plants that thrive on neglect. Sedums may be perfect for them.

These plants thrive in part to full sun, are drought tolerant once established, and require little extra fertility. They are also magnets for bees and butterflies. There are more than 400 species of sedums that are annuals, perennials, and even small shrubs depending upon the climate. Most are hardy from USDA zones 4 to 9. Sedums are succulents with fleshy leaves. The leaf colors include light green, blue-gray and reddish-bronze depending on the selection. The small flowers form in clusters in colors such as white, yellow, bronze and pink.

Types of Sedum Explained

Clumping sedums come in a number of colorful varieties:

  • ‘Autumn Joy’ is the classic standard bearer that features pink flower buds opening to a copper color.
  • ‘Dragon's Blood’’ presents a redder flower than Autumn Joy', for a brighter statement.
  • ‘Purple Emperor’ has dusty-pink flowers and burgundy-colored leaves making this an attractive perennial even when it's not in bloom.
  • ‘Neon’ features rich purple flowers on a clumping, lime green leafed plant.
  • ‘Thunderhead’ has deep-pink flowers and grey-green upright foliage.

Creeping varieties have more variety in their leaf and flower colors. Some are deciduous and others evergreen. Many of these are natives so are more tolerant of part-shade conditions. They make excellent rock garden and container plants because of their love of well-drained soils.

  • Sedum Lime Twister has hot-pink flowers on variegated cream and green cup-shaped foliage.
  • Sedum Cherry Tart has a similar presentation, but with deep-burgundy foliage to contrast its pink flowers.
  • Sedum Angelina is an evergreen type with needle-like, chartreuse leaves.
  • Sedum 'Firecracker' has non-fading, cherry-red (tinged with green) foliage and pink-colored flowers.
Pink Blooms of Sedum 'Autumn Joy'
<a href="/perennials/sedum/autumn-joy-sedum">Sedum 'Autumn Joy'</a> blooms from mid-summer to fall, with seedheads that last for winter interest.

Growing Suggestions

  • Where you grow sedums in the garden depends upon the type. Clumping sedums are perfect companions with many late-summer and fall-blooming perennials, such as purple coneflowers, rudbeckia, dwarf asters, russian sage . Because of their need for well-drained soils, if you have heavier soils, place them where other drought-tolerant perennials such as russian sage and coneflowers are already thriving.
  • Use varieties with reddish-purple colored foliage to contrast well with annuals , such as petunias, and low-growing perennials such as geraniums. Because they’re not limited in color to fall when they bloom, the colored leafed varieties can be companions in many locations for many different plants.
  • Creeping sedums offer more variability in the landscape. Rock gardens are a natural growing place for sedums. Grow them en masse for the best visual effect. Let some creep off the side of the rock wall or edge to extend the color beyond the bed. Experiment with different types. Sometimes one selection of sedums will like an area better than another and can be the one that takes over.
  • Because of their small root system and little need for water, creeping sedums can also grow well in cracks and crevices in rock walls or stepping stones. Create small spaces and add potting soil to plant creeping sedum plugs in a wall. Keep them well watered at first until established. Pop in sedums between stones in footpaths to soften the edges of the walkway. Remember that sedums can't tolerate foot traffic, so place them where they won't be frequently stepped upon.
  • Creeping sedums also can be a solution for sloping areas that are hard to mow. Once established, a carpet of sedum is a good weed barrier and attractive addition to a slope. The biggest challenge is spending the time and energy to keep the area weeded until completely established. Look for aggressive sedum varieties, such as Sedum spurium, that grow fast and invest in planting more plants closer together to have them fill in faster.
Sedum Harvest Moon Close Up
<a href="/perennials/sedum/sedum-harvest-moon">Sedum Harvest Moon</a> is a rockgarden favorite, and easy to propogate.

Container Gardening

Sedums are also well adapted to container growing. With the latest craze of growing succulents in containers, sedums match up well with agave, sempervivum and other succulents. In warm climates, these succulent containers can stay outdoors year round. In colder regions, bring them indoors before a freeze to protect them and the pot from freezing and thawing conditions.

You can grow the sedum in a sunny window or under grow lights. Another option is to remove the sedums from the container in fall, plant them in the garden well before your ground freezes and then transplant them into a new container the following spring.


A nice feature of the creeping sedums is their ability to root from their stems. This allows gardeners to propagate many new plants from a few mother plants.

In spring, check along the stems of your creeping sedums to see where it may have rooted on its own. Cut the stem below the roots to remove it from the mother plant, dig it up and replant in a new location.

You can also take a 6-inch long cutting of creeping and clumping sedums, remove the bottom leaves, dip the cut ends in rooting hormone powder and stick those cuttings in a pot filled with slightly moistened potting soil. Place the cuttings in a bright room out of direct sunlight and in a month or so, they should root and form new plants.

'Sedum Autumn Charm' with variegated leaves
<a href="/perennials/sedum/sedum-autumn-charm">Sedum 'Autumn Charm'</a> starts the season with white blooms that turn pink throughout the growing season.

About the Author: Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden speaker, author, consultant, radio and TV show host. He delights in making gardening information simple, easy, fun and accessible to everyone. Visit his website, for how-to gardening information, and for more about Charlie.

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