Now you Sedum … now you don’t!

Sedum are a group of mainly succulents or fleshy-leaved herbaceous perennials. (plants that disappear under ground in winter) They grow best in open sunny positions and tolerate poor, free draining soils. Wet soils can lead to rotting and overly fertile soils will promote too much vegetative growth. This will be at the expense of flowers and the elongated stems have a tendency to flop (you may have experienced this in your own garden).

The low growing succulent types are suitable for containers. They look fantastic when used as a decorative tapestry of ground cover. The common name of the ‘stone crop’ describes their ability to root into cracks in rocky outcrops and readily spread successfully directly over the bare rock faces. Their ability to grow in almost no soil and in exposed conditions has made them popular for covering green roofs where just a thin layer of lightweight free draining substrate can support species such as Sedum acre.

The fleshy leaved herbaceous perennials will perform reliably if given a sunny spot and can cope with a variety of soils as long as they are not waterlogged. They are grown mainly for their autumn flowers and seed heads that last well into the winter. The flat flower heads also provide nectar for butterflies and therefore encourage biodiversity in the garden as well as extending your border display well into winter. The dry seed heads can be left on the plant to develop a rich chocolaty brown colour.  As they fade they continue to add structure to the garden into the winter and look superb on frosty mornings or covered with a sprinkling of snow. These faded flower stems need to be cut back in late winter. Before growth begins or after heavy rain or snow if they start to look a it shabby.

There are some excellent cultivars including dark coloured leaved varieties. These give more interest and a more delicate flower than the stalwart Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’.

Sedum telephium ‘Karfunkelstein’ and Sedum telephium ‘Purple Emperor‘ both have deep burgundy/purple fleshy foliage. It gives a good contrast to lighter colours and they are topped with pink flowers in late summer.

Sedum are easily propagated by division in early spring. Softwood cuttings can be taken during the growing season. They root very readily and the cuttings should be inserted into gritty, free-draining compost for best results.

See The Crocus Website for more detail