Posted by Aaron Barton on Jul 25th 2022
One of the most diverse perennial plant groups available, Sedum are durable plants offering a wide range of appearances in the garden along with showy late summer blooms sure to please pollinators and gardeners alike. A member of the stonecrop family, Crassulaceae, Sedum (SEE-dum) are hardy succulent perennials, storing additional water and nutrients in their fleshy stems and leaves for exceptional drought tolerance, as well as a standout appearance alongside more traditional herbaceous perennials. While there are nearly endless cultivars available, perennial Sedum are generally grouped by their growth habit as either upright, referring to upright hybrids often involving crosses of Sedum telephium and Sedum spectabile and known simply as Sedum, or as groundcover, describing numerous hybrids often involving crosses of Sedum spurium, Sedum rupestre, and Sedum kamtschaticum, and commonly known as stonecrops.
Given their exceptional diversity with over 400 species in existence, Sedum are native to many regions of the world, from Africa, to South America, to Europe; most of our zone hardy species are native to regions of Russia, China, and Japan, as is often the case with ornamental perennials hardy to our zone. Excellent in sunny borders, rock gardens, foundation plantings, water-wise gardens, as well as boulevard gardens given their excellent salt tolerance, Sedum perform best in areas of full sun in well-drained soil, tolerating poor soil quality as well as light shade, though overly moist areas and heavy clay soils should be avoided to prevent root rot.
Blooming from mid-summer to fall, both upright and groundcover Sedum put on an exceptional late season show alongside their unique foliage. Growing 12-36” tall and wide as compact mounds, upright Sedum bloom large umbels of numerous star-shaped flowers, ranging in color from light pink, as in the iconic green-leaved ‘Autumn Joy’ and variegated ‘Autumn Charm,’ to rich fuchsia flowers like those of ‘Mr. Goodbud,’ as well as unique coral and cream blooms of the burgundy-leaved ‘Conga Line’ Sedum. Groundcover Sedum, or stonecrops, typically growing to only around six to eight inches tall with a span of a foot or more, offer exceptional foliage interest and colorful blooms as well, including the bright yellow, needle-like foliage and yellow star-shaped blooms of ‘Angelina,’ and the rich burgundy foliage and deep pink blooms of ‘Sunsparkler Cherry Tart.’