On my most recent evening stroll around my garden I
realized that my perennial showy sedum planted some five years ago was gone. I
checked with my gardening partner and husband, Tony, who said I was unhappy with
it last year so he removed it. I was probably unhappy because our 95-pound puppy
thought it would be a nice play toy and broke half the plant off before I could
intervene. A plant just can’t look the same after that, but I was hoping for a
complete recovery this year.
Traditionally sedums have somewhat succulent
foliage and are also called live-forevers. Thought of as indestructible, this
drought-tolerant group of plants prefers a site that is in full sun but are
known to do very well in partial shade, especially as you go further south.
The most popular sedum today is also the most easily
recognized and the showiest. It is a hybrid called Sedum x ‘Autumn Joy.’
One of the easiest perennials to propagate and grow, it can be found in both
the beginning and advanced gardeners’ landscapes.
Sedum x ‘Autumn Joy’ grows 16 to 24 inches
tall as an upright clump and can be planted singly or in mass. Its blooms start
out green and look like broccoli, then turn pink and finally a rusty-red for
the fall. The entire bloom sequence takes about three months, with the flowers
looking their best in August and September.
There is a huge group of sedums not so easy to
recognize because they are grown like groundcovers. While the tall showy sedums
bloom in late summer, the groundcover types generally bloom in the spring.
Sedum acre, goldmoss stonecrop, is an aggressive
spreader. Its tiny yet succulent-like leaves form a dense mat, making it excellent
to creep through rocks or stones in the garden. It can also be grown in a decorative
container, but if a piece breaks off and falls to the ground, it will root before
your eyes and take off growing.
Sedum spurium, two-row stonecrop, is also
considered a somewhat aggressive groundcover. Several popular cultivars can
be easily found in the nursery trade and are quite fun to grow. ‘Bronze Carpet,’
‘Red Carpet,’ and ‘Dragon’s Blood’ are very similar with impressive bronze leaves
and starry reddish flowers in the spring. It is an excellent plant for the rock
garden, between steppingstones, or in any place you can’t get anything else
Flowering a little later, Sedum reflexum,
stone orpine, has unusual but showy blue-green foliage and can grow 6 to 10
inches tall. This sedum is not as aggressive as many of the groundcover types
but will still form a nice dense mat in the garden.
For each gardener I have met I have seen another
garden that I love. The successes and failures are not visible by those who
visit and the constant change becomes the much-loved history of both the garden
and the gardener. Like the diversity of the sedums, I hope my garden and yours
will continue to grow, change, and "live-forever."