Sedums, often referred to as stonecrop, are one of my favorite garden plants. Probably because they are so tough for my relenting garden conditions of poor soil and drought. With so many different cultivars to choose from I can use them as ground covers, in the rockery, in containers and perennial borders.
Sedums are hardy succulents, and store water in their fleshy leaves to get through long dry spells. They are not fussy about soil but do require excellent drainage, thus a sandy soil is preferred. They can be planted in full sun and even do well in part shade and rarely need dividing. The leaves are very attractive and can be green, tipped in burgundy or variegated. Autumn sedum flowers are white, pink, rose, maroon, burgundy or scarlet. As a bonus the bees love the flat clusters of blossoms during the later part of summer.
Like any other plant the market has hybridized them to death. Many new varieties have come and gone simply because “new” does not always mean better in the plant world. These hybridization efforts have however produced a collection of strong, beautiful garden worthy plants that are hardy and easy to grow.
The following are those cultivars that I have found over the years to be the best, continuing to perform year after year with little or no help from me.
Sedum Kamtschaticum / is a low growing variety at 5 inches which is ideal as a ground cover or for a rockery. Each plant spreads about 12 inches across and has dark-green foliage. In early summer they are covered in bright yellow-orange flowers.
Sedum Matrona / is a tall variety for the perennial border. The foliage is a deep grey-green with an edging of pink. Growing 20 inches tall with a spread of 24 inches, this major plant looks great mixed with ornamental grasses. In fall the plants bear large clusters of soft pink flowers which when dry offer good winter effect.
Sedum Autumn Joy / this is an all time favorite and hard to beat. Another border variety that can also be used in containers. About 18 inches tall by 24 inches wide, green leaves and large dusty-pink flower heads in late summer. The flowers deepen into a rich bronzy-red and look great all winter.
Sedum Brilliant / a bit shorter at around 18 inches this sedum is good for borders and containers. Greyish-green leaves on unbranched stems that carry flat, broad heads of bright pink, small starry flowers in very late summer. A good plant for attracting both bees and butterflies.
Sedum Mr. Goodbud / a relatively new hybrid with very large, dense heads of light purple buds which contrast with the dark purple flowers. A slightly more compact and shorter sedum. In late summer it bears dark mauve flowers.
Sedum Oreganum / a creeping sedum which makes an excellent sedum ground cover. Forms a low growing mat of succulent green leaves which turn red in hot, dry weather. Yellow starry flowers appears in summer.
Sedum Vera Jameson / a shorter spreading variety with grey-green leaves tinged with purple and pink flowers in late summer. Great for containers, rock gardens and foregrounds.