Sedum, stonecrop. Perennial flowers or groundcovers.
Description: All sedums have succulent green leaves in trailing rosettes or upright mounds. Leaves of many species turn red in late fall; some cultivars have brilliantly colored or variegated foliage. Many sedums have showy pink, red, or purple flowers in fall. Others bloom from May through August with white or yellow flowers.
The best sedums for the perennial garden are hybrids. Sedum × ‘Autumn Joy’ grows upright, producing 2-foot bushy plants. Its 5- to 6-inch flower clusters bear starry blooms that open coral pink in summer, then deepen to copper in fall, while the leaves turn brilliant red. S. × ‘Ruby Glow’ grows 1 to 1½ feet tall, producing pink to ruby red flower clusters in late summer and fall, and has bluish green leaves that turn burgundy red. S. × ‘Vera Jameson’ grows 9 to 12 inches tall, with blue-green leaves and pink flower clusters borne in late summer. S. × ‘Frosty Morn’ bears foot-tall clumps of blue-green leaves with white edges and is covered with starry light pink or white flowers in late summer and early fall. Zones 3–10.
Some creeping or low-growing species sedums make good groundcovers for dry, sunny or lightly shaded sites. S. kamtschaticum, Kamschatka or Russian stonecrop, is a 2- to 4-inch trailer with yellow starlike flowers that appear in May, complementing its light green leaves. S. album, white stonecrop, is trailing, with short leaves that turn a reddish color in winter. The flowers open white to pink in late summer. S. spurium, two-row sedum, grows 2 to 6 inches tall and forms mats of foliage that turns bronze in fall; it produces open clusters of pink flowers in summer. Zones 3–8.
How to grow: Sedums are easy to grow in any well-drained, average soil in sun or light shade. They are tolerant of poor soil and hot, dry weather. Propagate them in spring or summer by division or cuttings.
Landscape uses: Use the smaller species as groundcovers for banks, or plant in pots, rock gardens, and the front of borders. They also look wonderful trailing over a stone wall. The taller species are striking in beds and borders. ‘Autumn Joy’ is a useful all-season plant; its flower heads add interest to the winter garden. Feature it with ornamental grasses and other tough perennials like daylilies and Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’.