Sedums are easy-to-grow succulents that add color and interest to your garden in summer and autumn. There are hundreds of varieties and most require “little more than a sunny spot in well-drained soil,” according to Brent Horvath, author of The Plant Lover's Guide to Sedums. With the many color, size, and blooming options,we're sure you'll find one (or more) to fit perfectly in your garden.

On this page: Sedum Basics | Types | Planting Instructions | Care | Landscape Design Tips | Pictures

SEDUM BASICS

Photo by: Mark Herreid / Shutterstock.

Zones:

Varieties available for zones 3-11.

Height/Spread:

Tall sedums can grow to be 2 feet tall and wide; creeping sedums range 2 to 6 inches tall and can spread to 24 inches wide.

Exposure:

Many sedum plants prefer full to part sun of 6 or more hours per day; however, there are varieties that need partial shade and sun protection.

Bloom time:

Flowers in late summer and autumn.

Flower color:

Varies by type.

Deer:

Although they do appear on some deer-resistant plant lists, sedums may still be nibbled on if there isn’t a better food source available. Well-established sedums will almost always survive some deer damage and bounce back.

TYPES

There are 3 varieties of sedum plants:

  • Tall border varieties (Hylotelephium or Sedum telephium) with dense, domed flowers and succulent leaves on 1- to 2-foot stems.
  • Creeping groundcover sedums (Sedum) that produce clusters of star-shaped flowers.
  • Trailing varieties (Sedum morganianum) such as the popular houseplant donkey’s tail, also called burro’s or lamb’s tail.

The tall border varieties provide late-summer color with their flowers and foliage, with new varieties available in shades of copper, dusky mauve, and dark purple leaves. Their dried flowerheads add interest into fall and winter when left intact. In colder climates, they may die back to a rosette at ground level in winter. These taller sedums generally behave like perennials and do well in zones 4 or 5 to 9, with a layer of winter mulch recommended in zones 4 and 5.

Groundcover sedums are often grown for their colorful foliage that comes in shades of blue, plum, red, purple, silver, gray-green, orange, coral, yellow, gold, green, or variegated, as well as their brilliant flower display in summer. They are well suited for groundcover, rock walls, roof gardens, living walls, tucked into strawberry pots, or draping over the edges of containers or hanging baskets.

PLANTING INSTRUCTIONS

When to plant:

Spring, summer and fall are all good times to plant, just not on overly hot days.

Where to plant:

Check the requirements of the variety you are planting, but most are sun-lovers and will want 6 or more hours per day. Sedums can be grown in rocky or sandy soil, hillsides, raised beds, or in containers as long as the soil drains well.

Soil:

Sedums require well-drained soil that is preferably slightly acidic with a pH of 6-6.5 for most.

How to plant:

The planting hole should be the same depth as the pot the sedum is being planted from. No fertilizer needs to be added. Water after planting.

Spacing:

Sedums tend to be slow growers, so allow them time and space to spread out. Don’t plant too close to aggressive growers that might take their space before they’ve had a chance to mature. For groundcover varieties to fill in quicker, plant a little closer together, but not touching. Taller border varieties should be planted approximately 15 inches apart to allow enough room for their mature size. Overcrowding can lead to poor results.

CARE

Pruning:

Sedums are quite low maintenance and pruning isn’t necessary, but you can clean them up a bit after winter by removing any dead or damaged branches or foliage; this will also help keep your sedums healthy. For taller border varieties, new growth can be pinched in spring to promote more branching and shorter growth in order to avoid getting leggy and drooping. Deadheading border sedums in fall isn’t necessary, as the flower heads remain attractive through the fall and into winter. Groundcover types can be trimmed to stay within their boundaries, and if you don’t want seedlings from these creeping varieties, the spent flower heads can be removed in summer.

Amendments & Fertilizer:

Sedums prefer lean conditions. In fact, unless your soil is extremely poor, it may be best to avoid fertilizer at all. If you do need to add some nutrients to the soil, it is best to apply an organic fertilizer at half-strength during the growing season, or a light layer of compost. Chemical fertilizers tend to cause stretching and flopping on tall border varieties. Mulch should not be applied up against the base of the plant because this can cause rot.

Watering:

Sedums are quite drought tolerant, but do need some water. They do their best with weekly watering from spring through fall, but may require more in extremely hot weather or if planted in a container. Make sure not to overwater them though, as that can be fatal. Wait until the soil is completely dry between watering. Newly-planted sedums should be watered daily for the first couple of weeks.

Propagation:

Sedums can be reproduced by division, cuttings, or seed. For the tall sedums, division is the easiest for home gardeners and is best done in early spring. Dig the plant up, divide into wedges making sure to get some new budding areas within each section, and replant. This can be done every few years. For the creeping groundcover varieties, simply cut the stems and place the cut end in a shallow layer of potting soil.

Diseases and Pests:

Sedums are rarely bothered by pests, but aphids, snails or slugs may be attracted. Keeping plants and surrounding areas dry can help deter the snails or slugs. Sedums can be susceptible to disease, and younger plants are more affected than established ones. Cleaning up dead plant material and clearing weeds will go a long way in keeping your sedums healthy. Tan to brown patches appearing on leaves may resemble disease or pests infestation, but may be from edema (swelling) if the plant has been overwatered or conditions are excessively humid or wet. The leaves swell and burst causing the spots to appear.

SEDUM VARIETIES TO TRY

Swipe to view slides

Photo by: Mark Herreid / Shutterstock.

Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude’or Autumn Joy

Zones:

4-11

Height:

Up to 24 inches

Exposure:

Partial to full sun

Bloom time:

Late summer to fall

Color:

Grey-green foliage, light green stems, with pink flower buds opening to a copper color

Photo by: Jonathan Ward / Millette Photomedia.

Hylotelephium ‘Carl’

Zones:

4-9

Height:

Up to 24 inches

Exposure:

Full sun

Bloom time:

Mid-summer

Color:

Grey-green foliage, rose-color stems, with bright pink flowers

Photo by: Maria Evseyeva / Shutterstock.

Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’

Zones:

3-7

Height/Spread:

Up to 15 inches tall and 18 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun

Bloom time:

Early to late summer

Color:

Dark purple leaves with pink flowers

Other:

Fast grower

Photo by: Garden World Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo.

Sedum erythrostictum ‘Frosty Morn’

Zones:

4-9

Height/Spread:

Up to 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide

Exposure:

Partial to full sun

Bloom time:

Summer

Color:

Variegated green and white leaves with white to light pink flowers

Photo by: PeterVrabel / Shutterstock.

Hylotelephium telephium ‘Matrona’

Zones:

3-9

Height/Spread:

Up to 30 inches tall and 24 inches wide

Exposure:

Partial to full sun

Bloom time:

Summer

Color:

Gray-green leaves, burgundy stems, pink flowers

Photo by: Hans / Pixabay.

Hylotelephium sieboldii (October Daphne)

Zones:

4-9

Height/Spread:

10 inches tall, up to 12 inches wide

Exposure:

Full sun to part shade

Bloom time:

Fall

Color:

Blue-green leaves with red edges late in the season, turning bright orange in fall, pink flowers in fall

Photo by: Garden World Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo.

Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’

Zones:

3-11

Height:

3 to 6 inches

Exposure:

Partial to full sun

Bloom time:

Summer

Color:

Chartreuse foliage with yellow flowers

Photo by: Amineah / Shutterstock.

Sedum spurium ‘Schorbuser Blut’ or Dragon’s Blood

Zones:

3-9

Height:

4 to 6 inches

Exposure:

Partial to full sun

Bloom time:

Late summer

Color:

Green leaves edged with red, turn darker red in cool fall weather, with deep red flowers

Other:

Evergreen in warmer climates

Photo by: Blickwinkel / Alamy Stock Photo.

Sedum acre (gold moss sedum)

Zones:

3-9

Height:

3 inches

Exposure:

Full sun

Bloom time:

Spring

Color:

Green foliage with yellow flowers

Photo by: Susan Marie Sullivan / Shutterstock.

Sedum spurium ‘John Creech’

Zones:

3-9

Height:

2 inches

Exposure:

Partial to full sun

Bloom time:

Fall

Color:

Green foliage that turns deep burgundy in cool weather, pink flowers

Photo by: Sonia Bonet / Shutterstock.

Sedum rubrotinctum

Zones:

9-11

Height:

6 inches

Exposure:

Full sun

Bloom time:

Summer

Color:

Pink-tinged, gray-green foliage that resembles jelly beans with white flowers

Photo by: Carol Cloud Bailey / Millette Photomedia.

Sedum ‘Blue Spruce’

Zones:

3-11

Height:

5 inches

Exposure:

Partial to full sun

Bloom time:

Early summer

Color:

Blue foliage with yellow flowers

Photo by: Ian Grainger / Alamy Stock Photo.

Sedum morganianum (Donkey’s Tail, Burro’s Tail, Lamb’s Tail)

Zones:

3-9

Spread:

Trailing variety, may have branches up to 2 feet in length

Bloom time:

Spring

Color:

Gray-green

Other:

Trailing variety, good for containers and hanging baskets, and as a houseplant

LANDSCAPE DESIGN TIPS

“The great diversity of sedums in form, foliage, and flower allows a lot of latitude and creativity for gardeners,” writes Horvath. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Tall and groundcover varieties are perfect for container planting, especially in colder climates where they can be moved indoors over winter.
  • Both types are also great for raised beds, hillsides, or sandy soil.
  • Creeping varieties are ideal for rock gardens, crevice gardens, living walls & green roofs due to their low water requirement and spreading nature.
  • Use very small varieties of stonecrops for fairy gardens and bonsai displays, such as Sedum hispanicum cultivars or S. dasyphyllum (Corsican stonecrop).
  • Cut flowers from the tall border varieties make beautiful additions to floral displays, as well as when dried.
  • Tall varieties don’t spread, but are spectacular in a mass planting.
  • Good companion plants include coneflower, black-eyed Susan, Russian sage, goldenrod, dwarf aster, geranium, and yarrow.

Last updated: August 14, 2018

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Types of Succulents
Autumn Gardening

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