Posted on November 15 2003
Sedums are amongst the most forgiving plants that exist. These rugged plants will grow in the poorest sandy soils, in rocky crags, on rotted wood or just about anywhere. Sedums are generally very drought tolerant, heat tolerant, cold tolerant, and will grow in shade to full sun. Native habitats include Korea, China, Siberia, Japan, the Himalayas, Europe and the Americas. Sedums comprise a very large, diverse and colorful genus of the family Crassulaceae, and are tenacious rock scramblers, often clinging to the steep faces of mountains. One subgenus of Sedum includes the multitudinous cultivars of Sedum telephium and spectabilis, which reach heights of 15" to 30", providing height for rock gardens or for borders along walkways. In late August through September, these various cultivars erupt in firework displays of masses of star-shaped flowers of vivid rose, snow white, rich salmon, or rose mauve. The foliage varies from light green to glaucous blue green, bronze, dusky purple, or variegated, providing added dimension to the gardener's palette. Sedum spectabilis 'Neon', with neon pink floral displays, accents the warm russet pink of Sedum telephium 'Autumn Joy'. Sedum 'Purple Emperor' has deep purple foliage, topped with violet rose flowers. The variegated forms include Sedum alboreseum variegata, which has blue green leaves with golden yellow centers and rose flowers. Another variegate is Sedum 'Frosty Morn', with blue green foliage margined in white, topped with snow-white flowers. The Sedum telephium/spectabilis complex is exceedingly cold hardy, surviving under frozen ground in the winter. Their strategy for enduring such cold is to lose all foliage, and survive underground as dormant rhizomes, ready to quickly regrow when all danger of frost is past. Many Sedums can be used as excellent, non-invasive ground covers, including Sedums spurium, spathulifolium, mexicanum, makinoi and many others too numerous to mention. The many forms of Sedum spurium include Sedum spurium "Dragon's Blood" with bronzed red serrated foliage and deep pink flowers, Sedum spurium "Red Beauty" with intense deep red scalloped foliage and deep rose flowers, and Sedum spurium 'Tricolor', with green white, and pink foliage. The Sedum spathulifolium forms include "Capo Blanco", a beautiful mass of small silvery white rosettes, and "Purpureum", an equally beautiful mass of small dusky burgundy rosettes. Many of these smaller Sedums add points of interest cascading over rocks in the rockery or garden. Various other Sedums, of a slightly more succulent nature, are highly sought for their intense colors for use in gardens and rockeries. These include Sedum adolphii, nussbaumerianum, and 'California Sunset', which form graceful clusters in landscapes and rockeries. The "Jellybeans" (Sedum rubrotinctum, Sedum rubrotinctum 'Aurora', Sedum pachyphyllum, Sedum hernandezii), so named for their exceedingly plump and colorful jellybean shapes, offer color accents as well. Sedum rubrotinctum, with green "jellybean" leaves, blushes intense red in winter or in drought. Sedum rubrotinctum 'Aurora' is a delightful chimera, exhibiting intense pink, green or white "jelly beans" on the same plant. Sedum pachyphyllum provides blue-green "jellybeans", tipped in deep rose red in cold or full sun. Sedum morganianum ('Burro Tail'),'Burrito', Sedum sieboldii, and the Sedum cauticola cultivars make outstanding hanging basket subjects or can be used to cascade over walls or rocks in shadier landscapes. Sedum 'Burrito' has cascading stems of pale bluish green "jellybeans". Sedum sieboldii has powdery blue crenulate leaves on cascading stems, and rose flowers in the fall. Sedum sieboldii 'Mediovariegatum' is a variegate form which has lemon yellow centers on each powdery blue leaf. Sedum cauticola and its hybrids, including 'Bertram Anderson' and 'Sunset Cloud', are very cold hardy with rounded, blue gray or blue violet foliage on cascading purplish stems, and deep rose flowers in the autumn. As can be seen in the photo, Sedums can be combined in a myriad of ways to create a visually exciting and enduring landscape.