Sedum with Geranium autumn joy in winter butterflies on sedum

How to grow Sedums

Sedums, common name stone crop, are a very wide-ranging genus of about 400 species with a variety of flowering colours and times. The Sedum illustrated (above left) is Ruby Glow which produces spectacular red flowers from late summer into early autumn. Sedums  vary in size from low growing species are suitable for a rock garden, others such as Ruby Glow and other autumn flowering species  (illustrated above) are around the 25cms in height suitable for the front of a mixed border.

I love Sedums, they have so much going for them. Sedum look great when they are emerging fresh strong green waxy foliage, beautiful just as the buds are emerging, and when fully in flower. I leave the seed heads on over winter they look great in the Autumn (image above in the centre) and also when dusted with frost. They attract dozens of pollinators, bees and butterflies as soon as the flower heads form and they are very easy to propagate. One this page are many images of Sedum and they are one of my top ten plants.

Sedums are one of many great summer flowering plants and which also look great in summer planting combinations

Sedums are easy to grow, green wheelbarrow easy to growand are best planted where they will enjoy good sun with soil that is not too dry. Sedums will grow in partial shade but not full shade. Sedum is a very undemanding plant and is virtually maintenance free apart from a trim back in the spring, see below. Sedum will provide great late summer and early autumn colour. A major advantage of Sedums is that they are greatly attractive to bees, hover flies and butterflies, especially when they first start to flower and are full of nectar. It is not unusual to spot several butterflies, a mass of bees and hover flies on a single Sedum plant on a warm autumn day. Sedums are known as the butterfly's friend and they really are a magnet to butterflies. A good place to plant Sedum is near a seat so you can spend time relaxing, watching the bees and butterflies feeding on the Sedums.

The only downside of some Sedums is that some varieties of the taller Sedums can be a bit floppy, lax in habit with plants not standing upright and a tendency to spread outwards with a bald centre. This can be a problem if Sedums are grown in too much shade, or rich soil, but this can be very easily over come by pinching out the plants to make them bush or by Chelsea chop in late May or early June. Cut top growth by around 10cms, don't throw cuttings away  because it is easy to propagate from them, see below.  Nipping back stops the floppy growth and makes a better behaved plant. The more modern varieties and some traditional varieties Sedum to do better than others, I do not find it a problem with Ruby Glow and the RHS garden merit award varieties tend not to do this , and all varieties in the images above do not have this problem and stand up straight. The shorter varieites tend to be more upright in habit.

  It is best not to dead head the plants as they look fantastic with snow and ice on them, see images below. In the spring the new growth is easily visible at the root as in the image below and that is the time to cut Sedum back to the position in image below right. The first image, left,  has the old stems still in place, in the second image the growth has been cut away ready for the spring.

Sedum ready for cutting backSedum after cutting back in spring

Types of Sedum To Grow

 The flowers last for a long time and good varieties for the garden are those with the RHS merit award which are Sedum 'Ruby Glow' (top right image) which grows up to 25cms; 'Munstead Red' which is taller up to 60cms; and ' Herbstreude' which is of a similar height.

There are dark leaved varieties such as  Sedum telephium rhs_agm_logo-75x75  with the RHS merit award(Atropurpureum Group) ' Purple Emperor' .

There are also a number of low growing Sedums which are suitable for walls  and ground cover, such as Sedum lydium, image below,  which only grows to around 5cms and has a lovely autumn colour.

Sedums are a very wide genus of plant, there are plants suitable for front of the border such as small stonecrop image below , tiny low growing Sedums as in lydium, and all are easy to grow. Sedum even look good in the winter with the frost on the flower heads as in image below. 

Sedum and geranium sedum stonecrop Sedim lydium Sedum with ice

The Short trailing Sedum suitable for

front of border and walls.

Low mat forming brightly

coloured Sedum Stonecrop 

Low growing Sedum lydium Sedum with frost
Variegated Sedum 'Autumn Charm' Sedum happy in wall Dark leaves on sedum sedum starting to flower
Variegated Sedum which as the image shows is very bright and light, called S.'Autumn Charm' Low growing Sedums look great in a wall or crevice  This is a variety of Sedum with dark leaves which is very attractive, and to the bees. Sedum just coming into flower this image was taken 26th August.

How to propagate Sedums

Helpfully, Sedums are very easy to propagate and you can have as  many plants as you want for free.  Looking at the image bottom left, the three rings are around three generations of Sedums rooted sequentially each year. The large Sedum plant is the original plant, to the left is a cutting the following year and the small plants the next year.  The cuttings quickly mature ready to be planted out in another part of the garden.

It is the ease of cuttings which is surprising about this plant. The two smaller plants at the front were off cuts from applying "the Chelsea Chop" in late May and the cuttings were simply just pushed into the ground from where they rooted, very easy. Once rooted and established the Sedum plants will be transferred into the border providing plenty of late colour and food for the bees and butterflies. For more information on plants attractive to bees and butterflies check out the wildlife garden 

Sedums will also root if placed in a Vase or water and produce most interesting off shoots which can be rooted up for more plants. The image below is part of a stem which was in water.

Three stages of Sedum  sedum-grown-in-water
To propagate Sedum this way just make a small hole in the ground and push the cutting into the ground. Check it does not dry out and over the summer it should root.  A large piece of Sedum broke off a plant with the flower head on so thinking it looked nice I put it in a vase. It grew the most impressive little seedlets, as in the image and eventually I broke them off, nested into pot and it grew into another Sedum as easy as that.