I had a long-lived plan to concentrate many kinds of sedums in a sunny spot, and the front yard of my house provides that opportunity. For a small space of 16’ x 12’, my preference was to have many varieties of a limited number of plants rather than a jumble of plant species. In addition to hardy shrub and miniature roses, I decided to focus on sedums. They are appealing to me because of their succulent foliage, colour, overall hardiness and reliability, and their range of forms, especially the small ones. I also love the fact that they are a strong attractant to pollinators. I never grew tired of looking at the Autumn Joys that were so popular with bees of all kinds, the plants literally hummed. My love of these plants goes beyond the pragmatic; I have a clear aesthetic passion for them like the love one feels toward their specialty in something. I love so many herbaceous perennials that I find it impossible to specialize, but if forced, sedums would be a good candidate.
The image is not from my garden, but from East End Beacon, https://www.eastendbeacon.com/gardenwise-the-season-and-reason-for-sedums/
I want to fill a space all around the Amelanchier (Serviceberry) that I got from Connon Nurseries and had planted late in the season on October 16, 2020. In sedums, I am seeking a wide range of colours, forms and sizes, as well as growth habits. My collection of sedums comes from a few sources. The most recent additions are from Beeches Nursery in Leslieville, and I bought many of the tiny ones from Craig Urquhart, ‘The Friendly Neighbourhood Gardener’ near me in the east end. I got many clumps from Helena Yan in Scarborough who I found on a local Facebook plant group. The four Autumn Joys come from another east end gardener I found online. These last two sources were given to me for free. Urquhart’s sedums came without a plant tag, so I can’t pinpoint his varieties with accuracy. This is list of the sedums I have as of January 2020.
List of My Sedums (with supply source)
- Sedum kamtschaticum; mexicanum ‘Lemon Coral’; ‘Dragon’s Blood’; ‘Elizabeth’ (some guesses made)
Craig Urquhart. Planted June 2020.
- Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’
Craig Urquhart. Planted June 2020.
- Sedum hyotelephium ‘Herbstfreude aka ‘Autumn Joy’
Toronto Gardeners FB group member. Planted June 2019. Transplanted to the front garden, Oct 2020.
- Sedum orpin reprise ‘Touchdown Flame’
Vandermeer Nursery. Planted Oct 2020. Full sun. 7–9” h. Glooms late summer to fall. Allow soil to dry between thorough waterings. Zone 4–10.
- Sedum reflexum ‘Spanish Blue Select’
Beeches Nursery. Planted October 20, 2020. Full sun. Blooms in summer. 4–6” h x 12–15” s. Hardy to zone 4.
- Sedum spurium ‘Tricolor’
Beeches Nursery. Planted October 20, 2020. Blooms throughout summer. Full or partial sun. Well-drained soil. Grows 3–4” h. Zones 3–9.
- Sedum spurium ‘Bronze Carpet’
Beeches Nursery. Planted October 20, 2020. Full sun. Bronze Carpet grows to 4-6” h; pink flowers June–Aug.
Plant Profile and Care
Known by its common name of Stonecrop, Sedums are notable for their wide variety of heights, colours, and forms available in hundreds of species. Favoured because it’s so easy to grow (and propagate), tall sedum flowers tend to come in shades of pink and mauve that start out pale and deepen as they mature. Sedums provide colour in the fall; their flower heads provide winter interest and can be dried for indoor arrangements. They are sun-loving perennial succulents that tolerate both drought and moisture. Most are sturdy enough to stand upright on their own, with a few varieties that have a nice trailing quality, suitable for containers.
Sedums are extremely easy to grow. Pruning the plants back in early July will encourage them to get bushier and to grow sturdier, but it can result in smaller flowers. Some taller Sedums respond well to an early spring pruning, taking care not to remove the emerging new growth, while ground covers types need a light trim to remove faded flowers or dead stems. Propagation is generally by plant cuttings or division. Taller sedums tend to be hybrids, and they won’t grow true from seed. Sedums can be propagated by cuttings or offsets from the main plant. Each leaf can grow into a new plant if gently pulled away and replanted.
Sedums will grow best in full sun. They are very drought tolerant, but can get sunscald in extremely hot, dry conditions above 90°F. Sedums can be grown successfully in partial shade, but the plants might not be as sturdy and upright as they would be in full sun. Wet, heavy clay soil can lead to root and stem rot so plant sedum where the soil can easily drain.
Water thoroughly when planting, but once established, sedum plants don’t require a lot of water and are drought resistant, much like other succulents like Agave and Euphorbia. Water whenever the top two inches of soil is dry. Humidity is tolerated well, especially if you reduce your watering schedule to suit particularly humid conditions.
Fertilizer should not be necessary. High-nitrogen soil can cause sedum to flop and delay blooming, so adding an inch of compost annually in the spring and when planted can help achieve optimal soil levels. Sedums are relatively pest-free.
Sedums look especially good in a small mass planting that takes center stage in autumn. Because they look good all season, sedums are suitable for edging, as specimen plants, as ground cover, and in containers. Smaller varieties are good choices for rock gardens and trailing over walls.
|Common Name||Showy Stonecrop, Border Stonecrop|
|Plant Type||Perennial succulent|
|Mature Size||6–24 inches tall, 12–24 inches wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Well-drained soil|
|Soil pH||Neutral to slightly acidic|
|Bloom Time||Summer, fall|
|Flower Color||Yellow, red, pink, white|
|Native Area||Eastern United States|