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Plant of the Month September 2010

The genus Sedum includes some four hundred species from low growing alpine varieties, which make excellent ground cover, to more exotic types which can reach 1 metre (3 feet).  Most are evergreen and are best planted en masse to achieve rolling mounds of colour.

Sedums - Plant of the Month

Sedums are highly attractive to butterflies and insects.  There are several species and cultivars which make a really attractive display in the garden during late autumn.  The starry nectar-rich flowers of sedums are very popular with hoverflies, which have small mouths.  Hoverfly larvae are important predators of aphids (greenfly) so planting sedums is eco-friendly. 

Several sedums, including Sedum spectabile ‘Brilliant’ have been given the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. Many sedums have star quality with their heads of tiny flowers giving many weeks of pleasure at the end of summer and into the autumn months,

Growing Tips   

Sedums are undemanding, easy to grow plants, with succulent leaves.  The fleshy leaves of all sedums store water and they do well in drought conditions.  They will make ideal specimens for sunny positions in well drained soil.  The crown can rot in winter if grown on heavy soil – adding grit can help improve this type of soil.  Sedums grow best when the soil is not too rich;  if it is too fertile the stems go soft and sappy.

Taller types perform best in a well drained, neutral to slightly alkaline soil with lots of sunshine, though vigorous types will tolerate partial shade.  Most can withstand and even benefit from hot dry summers and little nourishment.  Smaller ground cover sedums are suited to the soil in rockeries or between the cracks and crevices of pathways and terraces.

Some sedums divide at the heart of the crown and splay their stems out unattractively.  If this does happen, make a note to split it up the following Spring to reduce this problem.  The cultivar Sedum Purple Emperor fortunately does not have this habit.  It is a more graceful performer in the border, mingling with other plants.

Other Cultivars to Consider:  

Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’ 
Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ 
Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’    
Sedum ‘Brilliant’

Newer cultivars include:    

Sedum ‘Black Jack’  
Sedum  ‘Xenox’ 
Sedum  ‘Marchants Best Red’ 
Sedum ‘Karfunkelstein’

If you are keen to propagate your sedums, they split and divide easily in Spring.  It is best to carry this process out just before growth begins (March).

By Plant for Life.