Autumn Joy Sedum
For a hot and sunny location, succulents are a great choice. Sedum (also known as stonecrop) is a genus of hardy succulents that “thrive on neglect,” a trait that marginal gardeners such as I require. My favorite thing in the gardening world is finding a plant that can be installed and forgotten until it’s time to take the stage. Autumn Joy sedum has become a classic perennial fitting this description, and as a bonus it plays well with others.
Sedum is a genera that includes a bounty of forms and colors, all of which are fairly to very dry tolerant and sun loving. Autumn Joy sedum is an upright form, with avocado colored foliage. It grows to nearly 24″ tall, and just as wide. The blooms are quite interesting: buds form in mid-Summer, initially reminiscent of loose broccoli florets, until the buds begin to color. The initial blush pink color gradually deepens as the flowers mature through deep red to cinnamon brown. While there are numerous upright forms, Autumn Joy sedum is one of the last to flower (late-August through early-October in our part of Georgia). In the winter the stems die back, leaving possibly a few small rosettes of foliage at ground level as the only indicators of life below.
There are plenty of likely garden partners for Autumn Joy sedum. Consider the plant’s preferred growing conditions, texture and bloom time, and a few that come to mind are:
- Dwarf ornamental grasses
- Hens and chicks
When you go to the garden center, gather your candidates and lay them out right there on the table or floor to see which combinations you like best. Also, remember to buy more than you think you’ll need. You can always return extras, but there’s no guarantee they’ll still have them if you have to go back and get more.
If you really enjoy your sedum, you can make more from the ones you have. Divide established clumps into several plants by digging them up and cutting the root crown into pieces. Another way you can propagate sedum is by taking softwood cuttings or leaf cuttings in early summer. Let the cuttings dry out in a shady area for a couple of days, then dip them in rooting hormone after that it’s just like rooting a hydrangea.
Are you concerned about the plight of the bees? Autumn joy sedum is a great source of nectar for bees as well as butterflies and hummingbirds. The ripe seed heads, left on the plant through fall and winter will attract birds as well.
Autumn joy sedum is a beautiful and rugged addition to the perennial garden. It requires little and gives back much. If you don’t have it, go get it. Happy gardening!