Sedums are perfect for areas where little else grows. They like cracks and crevices, rock gardens, raised beds, containers and are so hardy that some grow on roof tiles, walls or in dry soil under trees.
There are about 400 species in a variety of colours with different flowering times. All have succulent green leaves in trailing rosettes or upright mounds, often turning red in late autumn. There is no need to deadhead as the flowers remain throughout the winter, looking beautiful when covered with frost. In spring, when the new leaf buds push through, the old stems can be pulled away. Never overwater or feed as sedums do not like rich soil.
The creeping sedums, also known as stonecrops, are suitable for rock gardens and groundcover, keeping weeds at bay. The flowers come in white, yellow, purple and pink in small, starlike clusters. They look spectacular planted en masse. In the autumn and winter many evergreen sedums, like album Murale and stenopetalum, take on a deep red or bronze hue that lasts until early spring.
The hybrids, such as Ruby Glow which produces spectacular red flowers from late summer into autumn, are about 25 cm high. Munstead Red grows up to 60 cm as does Herbstreude, or Autumn Joy, which is eye-catching in autumn with its fleshy, oblong, green leaves and large flat clusters of starry flowers. These open from greenish-pink buds, turning pale pink then deep pink and finally changing to a brownish hue in November.
Another excellent sedum is Mr Goodbud, the flowers cream when opening and turning reddish-mauve. Purple Emperor has dusky stems topped with buds that open to deep pink stars in August. The plum-black foliage has a satin sheen which fades in winter to a dramatic chocolate-brown dome of tiny stars.
To grow shorter varieties, laying the sedum on the soil in your chosen spot is usually enough. It will send out roots from where the stem touches the ground. With taller varieties, break off a stem and push it into the ground. It will root and a new plant establish.
Jobs for October & November
- In October, plant hyacinths and large-flowered anemones.
- Divide campanula, asters, hardy geraniums and phlox but leave hellebores and peonies alone.
- Lift, divide and replant crocosmias.
- Plant winter-flowering pansies, winter heathers, trailing ivy and hardy cyclamen in baskets and pots.
- Shorten the long shoots of late-flowering shrubs, such as buddleja davidii, but finish pruning in the spring.
- Continue to deadhead roses, removing only the flowers and not the long stems.
- This is a good time to plant new hardy climbers so that a good root system can develop.
- Plant tulip bulbs in November, filling the gaps with wallflowers, and some lily bulbs in pots.
- Early winter is the time to prune winter jasmine, ornamental vines and wisteria.
- Leave penstemons until the spring, apart from deadheading, as the stems will protect the crowns from the cold.