As summer wanes and we start experiencing our first frost, most perennials are finished for the season. But not the tall sedums (sedum spectabile) - this is their time to put on a show. And a glorious, long lasting show it is. In this week’s gardening tips series, I show you how to grow sedums for fall colour.Sedums, particularly “autumn joy” is a perennial favourite in most northern gardens. I use sedums throughout the garden for fall colour, placing three or more plants throughout a border .
Sedums are wonderful foundation plants that work well in many situations, provided their size is controlled with periodic splitting every three or four (just like most perennials) and they are watered regularly.
Most popular is the variety “autumn joy”, but sedums come in a variety of shades from the lightest pink like the “frosty morn” above or the deepest “red emperor” below.
A fleshy leafed perennial, sedums require full sun and sandy soil with good drainage. Due to their leaf structure they hold a lot of water in the plant, so regular deep watering is recommended rather than daily shallow watering with a hose.
Late blooming sedums tend to become leggy. So a good practise is to cut the top 1/3 of the plant off in late June to allow the plant to rejuvenate. This is sometimes called the “Chelsea Chop” as it coincides with the timing of the famous Chelsea Flower Show in England. Give your sedums a Chelsea chop in June to prevent leggy plants like the one above. Whenever I’m giving my plants the chop, I like to pretend that I’m in Chelsea at the garden show – one day, one day!
This sedum “autumn joy” was given a Chelsea Chop in June. Notice how the plant is a lot more compact but healthier looking than the one above which did not get a chop. I conducted an experiment this summer to see if it actually made a difference. I’m glad to report that it did. Although I’m wishing I gave them all a haircut in June now.
Hint: This is also good practice for chrysanthemums which tend to flop without cutting back in June.
Plant sedums beside other late blooming perennials such as rudbeckia and chrysanthemums for a garden filled with colour right through to October. I leave the flower heads on throughout the winter because they attract birds and also add some winter interest to the garden. But of course, you can cut them off when putting your garden to bed. I guess it’s because by the time the end of October rolls around, I’m pretty tired of the garden and use the winter interest as an excuse not to cut them back.
But be sure to cut some for an indoor bouquet – use these tips from my post on creating a wildflower bouquet to create an interesting but nature floral arrangement.