Sedum a sturdy choice

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In the garden

Sedum varieties come in many colors and sizes and are a good choice for busy or beginning gardeners due to their hardiness.  

Often called stonecrop, this plant is drought and heat tolerant and suitable for all types of garden designs. 

Blooming colors of white, yellow and pink, or darker purple and red, grow on stems that range from plain green and chartreuse to burgundy and nearly black.

The large clusters of flowers attract birds and are an excellent choice for butterfly gardens. 

Taller varieties grow up to 24” tall and can be used for back borders in flower beds and smaller 2” versions of this plant may be used as ground cover in difficult locations such as rock gardens.  

Established plants require little care, are deer resistant and most critters leave sedum alone.

When planting low-maintenance sedum, choose a sunny location with loam yet sandy well-drained soil.  The preferred time to plant is in early spring but this hardy choice can also be planted in the summer or fall, just water the new plant more than normal. The distance between plants should be 3’ apart for taller varieties and 6” apart for shorter varieties to allow for seasonal growth. 

They tolerate partial shade but do best in full sun and only need to be watered as needed.  Too much rain or soil that is not well drained can be a problem for sedum as this situation may cause root rot.  

In larger varieties such as the popular “Autumn Joy” clusters of small star-shaped flowers bloom on the ends of fleshy stems with large, thick succulent leaves. 

To avoid the situation of “floppy” stem clusters, a gardener may choose to stake tall stems or, before the plants bloom, 6-8” stems can be pinched back to a height of 4” to encourage sturdy growth.

Sedum will bloom in mid to late summer for several weeks until a hard freeze at which time the stems and leaves turn brown.  

The flower heads can be left intact over the winter months to add viewing interest to a garden but should be cut back in late winter or early spring to about 3” before the new plants emerge.

Sedum is not difficult to transplant or divide. Smaller creeping varieties of sedum can be moved nearly any time as they are more forgiving, but the ideal time to move and/or divide this plant is in the spring when the new shoots are up a few inches.  

If a plant needs to be moved in the fall, cut the plant down to approximately 6” and water it well for a few days prior to moving or dividing. Gently dig down around the plant and loosen the soil around the roots. 

Lift the whole clump and replant immediately, taking as many roots as possible and replanting at the same depth as it originally grew, or divide the plant into smaller sections and replant them immediately. 

Water all transplants well for the first few weeks until the plant is reestablished. If stems are broken off in the move, they can be stuck in the soil and if kept moist, will root and form new plants, or the broken stems with the lower half of the leaves removed from the stem can be placed in a glass of water in a sunny spot to form new roots and later planted in a pot with soil. Divisions and cuttings root readily throughout the summer.


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