Why Sedums Are the Perfect Fall Plant

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Ever heard of sedum? How about a plant that is easy care, drought tolerant and cold hardy? It may sound like a miracle plant, but that’s exactly what sedums are.

Technically succulents, the sedum family contains nearly 400 species. They are divided into two groups: low, carpet-forming mats of plants (sometimes called stonecrops) and the majestic, upright 2- to 3-feet-tall sedums. Tall varieties have whorls of succulent leaves on a thick unbranched stem. All sedums have clusters of small, star-shaped flowers full of nectar that attracts butterflies and bees, and most of them bloom in early fall, giving insects an energy boost in the late season. As gardeners, we benefit from the colorful fall blossoms in our weary gardens.

Sedums combine well with any of your garden plants. One of my favorites is Autumn Joy. Matrona, with its ruby stems and purple-tinged leaves, will have your visitors asking, “What is that?”

Sedums are succulents that do not like wet feet. You must have good drainage. They do best in full sun, but a few tolerate some shade. Sedums are the easiest plants to propagate. After admiring her ground cover sedum album, my friend Carol said, “Here, Colletta, just take several 4-inch cuttings off the tips, strip the bottom leaves off, stick the little bouquet in the ground and it will grow.” It worked like a charm!

Tall upright sedums will propagate the same way. In fact, when I reduced the size by cutting the tops off in June, low and behold, the sedum tops just rooted themselves where they fell. The plants are very shallow rooted, making them easy to lift and move.

Tall sedums die back to a rosette at the ground in the winter. I leave the dried stems with the dried flowers just to see the snow that catches on them producing snowcaps. The dried stems snap off at base for spring cleanup.

Stonecrop sedums, which are a creeping variety, are great for a rock garden, as they spread between the stones where the soil is thin and poor. Try stonecrops cascading down a difficult slope. This variety thrives with neglect and comes in different shades of green and red. You can even add stonecrops to a sunny container.

You will love having sedums in your yard. Remember to plant in full sun – once established they survive the droughts of late summer with no supplemental watering. Even the poorest soil will nourish sedums. Whether you chose a tall sedum or a creeping stonecrop, your reward is a fabulous look without a lot of care. Go ahead, give one or two a try!

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