Thursday, September 3, 2009

The autumn stonecrops

I didn't used to like sedums. It isn't completely clear to me why they have become a favorite in more recent years. Like anyone, I appreciate the easy, no care quality of these plants. Maybe I've just come to enjoy the autumn bloomers more because they are so few. Then too, hybridizers are introducing new plants every year with very appealing and unusual colors and shapes.

Sedum ‘Frosty Morn’ is new to me. Apple green foliage with creamy white accents. Flowers are pale pink when new, maturing darker and persisting through the winter.

I've heard some gardeners complain Frosty Morn throws non-variegated stems. If mine does this, I will be sure to remove these green stems promptly or the plant may revert to its all green ancestor. Hardy in my zone 4 and up to 9, full sun is best for good color. Well drained soil will keep the plant healthy but it should not be too picky. I will cut back at least once in spring to create a fuller, more compact plant and to produce additional cuttings to root for my garden.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' is everyone's dependable old friend. It's been around forever and with good cause. AJ grows well in almost any soil and tolerates shady situations if pinched back to prevent it from getting weak and floppy. This year has been a hectic one for me and I failed to cut back several Autumn Joy plants. Now as they begin blooming they are opening up in the center and the stems are splayed outward in an unattractive manner. Next year I'll try not to be so lax about pruning.

Autumn Joy is useful over the course of several seasons. In spring the little rosettes emerge like clumps of tiny cabbages. The flower buds form in late summer and progress through several color changes. In winter the brown stalks add interest.

Sedum ‘Matrona’ with grayish/green leaves and wine colored stems. In my garden it blooms a few weeks earlier than 'Autumn Joy'. Other than the stem color, I don't see a great improvement in appearance between Matorna and its parent Autumn Joy. Matrona seems to suffer more leaf damage and sunburn, has weaker stems, and isn't as robust and trouble free as Autumn Joy.

The blooms go through several shades of pink from pale, apple blossom pink to a rusty raspberry and finally maturing to a chocolate brown that carries through the winter.

Matrona will be hardy in zones 4-9, full sun for best color and upright growth. I prune exactly as I do with Autumn Joy for a better shape, upright habit and to get new plants.

Sedum tetractinum ‘Vera Jameson’ has very relaxed stems that allow it to droop gracefully over a wall or the side of a pot. The leaves are a watered burgundy color and contrast nicely with other plants. VJ will not grow very tall so I prune for propagation and fuller branching.

Butterflies and bees love sedum. Since they are one of the latest garden bloomers, it would benefit these insects to pinch back a few plants late in the summer to delay blooms up to and beyond frost.

Sedums are perhaps the easiest plants in the garden to propagate. Simply cut a 4-8 inch piece of stem in late spring/early summer and stick the cuttings. I drill holes in the bottoms of plastic cups and fill with potting soil. I remove all but 2 or 3 top leaves and place the stems in potting soil kept barely damp, not wet. You can also stick directly in the garden, just don't forget you have a tiny new plant growing there. Few weeks, new plant.


Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Hi Marnie, I've always loved sedum--I have many different upright (most are blushing now) and creeping varieties. So cute! But I totally understand what you mean about plants growing (ha ha) on you. I didn't used to like zinnia and now I love them. Same with (most) dahlia. Repeated exposure, maybe?!

sweetbay said...

I kind of have mixed feelings about Sedum, but they are very reliable plants and wonderful in the right situation. I think my favorite is the little native groundhugger. I got 'Black Jack' a couple of years ago and really like that too -- the flowers are a clear pale pink. 'Vera Jameson' looks very nice.

tina said...

'Vera Jamison' is a new one to me. I like it very much. I have the other ones. 'Frosty Morn' does not last here-green or otherwise. Quite a wussy indeed so I gave up. Autumn Joy is my favorite because the buds remind me of cauliflower and I've yet to see a plant that can do the same.

Pat said...

Did what you suggested about pruning the Autumn Joy and now I have tight, shorter and so much more attractive plants.
I'll remember that tip !
The Frosty Morn is a very attractive sedum...forgot about the other relatives.
Nice bird capture.

Darla said...

Sedums are also becoming very popular in my gardens too!

D said...

Marnie, we love the various sedums because as you state, they are an easy plant, and we have had 'Frosty Morn' in our garden for 10 years; happily it has remained true... no reversion. We are especially fond of Autumn Joy for we allow it to make a broad statement; since we have the room, we plant it across a long border next to some grasses... Beautiful photos!

Chloe m said...

That is what I love best about Sedum, the ease of propagation!
They grow splendidly up in the mountains for us. And very drought resistant. That's make it a no-brainer for me, I am going to admit to my laziness.
Your pictures are so pretty, I like how you included a winter shot with the bird.

Anonymous said...

I have not thought of pruning autumn joy but I can use some new plants rooted from the trimmings. Thanks for the inspiration.

JC said...

They look nice ...

Just looked up the book you have on the sidebar ... the cat one of course. I might just have to get that ... I grew up with a cat who went blind.

She lived a great life ... only we had to retrain her when my Mom would move the furniture around.

Dawn said...

Hi Marnie, I'm pretty sure I have vj, I planted last year over a rock wall. Mine has spread nicely.
I've had aj for awhile and next spring I'll be pinching, it looks lost! Thanks!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Monica, I didn't like grass either up until a couple years ago. Still haven't grown fond of dahlias;)

Hi SweetBay, haven't tried Black Jack but I've heard gardeners complain about sunburn on the leaves.

Hi Tina, I really like Frosty but I too wonder if it will survive the winter. Matrona had a lot of winter damage. AJ is the toughest.

Hi Patsi, I have sooooo many sedum from cuttings;)


Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Darla, I'll bet in your climate they stay green and attractive for a long period.

Hi Di, I hope Frosty is long lived here. It sure is a pretty plant.

Hi Rosey, I'll bet the sedums really like your drier climate.

Hi Donna, you'll be surprised how easy it is.

JC, I'm just getting into the book. I have been promised that it isn't one of those sad animal stories.

Hi Dawn, my Vera is in a pot because I had no place with a wall for her to cascade over. Very graceful and pretty.


Cheryl said...

Hi Marnie....I love Sedums.....not only for their late blooming but because they are much loved by bees and butterflies....

Autumn Joy is dotted all around my garden and never lets me down. They are drought tolerant as well......this year it had to be.

I have never been adventurous enough to try other varieties....seeing your photographs I think perhaps I should.

ShySongbird said...

I remember you gave us the tip about pinching back Autumn Joy back in the Spring Marnie and I made a mental note to plant some. I had grown them previously and been disappointed by the tendency to flop in the middle. Of course the mental note found its way out of my head again but with your reminder I shall make a physical note to plant some, thank you Marnie.

I love the Sedum in the pot, so elegant!

Sherri said...

Marnie, I had never seen the frosty morning sedum, I bet it would be gorgeous next to one of the more vibrant colors! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I also have several different kinds of sedum and like them all. I think the odd plant I could not identify is just beginning and is similar or looks like your green and white one.

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Phillip Oliver said...

I love the one in the container. I have "Autumn Joy" but it is really floppy. I should pinch it back.

F Cameron said...

Beautiful plants you're growing! Great info, too.

I am also a recent convert to sedum. At previous homes, I had shade. Here, I have deer, so I had to wait to figure out where to use them in the cottage garden. I planted the flowering varieties (had the creeping types longer) exactly one year ago today.

They are blooming now and so pretty! I'm glad that I pinched mine back to create more sedum.


Racquel said...

I've starting appreciating their late season blooms too. When I went to Lowe's today they had several varieties in stock & they were all in glorious bloom or bud. :)

BeadedTail said...

This is another one I hadn't heard of beford but I will have to check it out! I love that the cuttings grow into new plants so easily!

Susie said...

I really like sedum myself. I have 3 that I brought home from work a couple of years ago. I just plopped them in the ground and they are looking great this year. I don't do a thing to them.

Gail said...

I love these beautiful plants and so do the bees. Vera Jamison is one of my favorites and I love your draping it over a wall idea! Perfect for her relaxed stems. Marnie, any idea what might have cut through the Autumn Joy?
The stems look like something cut them off. I was so disappointed to see them laying next to the plant!


troutbirder said...

So there I was transplanting seedlings all afternoon from south shady garden to north. The Autumn Joys looks ridiculous, all flopped over. Maybe I should divide them I thought. I need a computer break. Read Lilacs and Roses. Thank you very much Marnie. Now I know what to do. :)

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Hi Marnie, I love my Autumn Joy Sedum... Mine is still a pale pink--but will turn off and on all Fall...

I haven't seen the other kinds you show--but I would love them. They are just so easy to grow. The only problem I have had this year is that the deer sometimes eat them... Grrrrrr!!!!

Thanks for those gorgeous pictures!!!!

Have a great Labor Day Weekend.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Hi Marnie, I like sedums too. I think I have always liked them. The varigated of anything usually reverts in my garden. Very discouraging when you are cutting out most of a plant to end up just letting it go back to were it originated from. The sedums in my garden are mostly floppy too from too little light. I prop them up or just ignore the fact that they are floppy. I still like the blooms as they attract wildlife so readily. Cheers, have a nice weekend.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Gail, that is disappointing. I'll bet it was rabbits, don't you think. They are the only things I can think of that take bites out of the middle of stems.

Hi Cheryl, I have dozens of honey bees, bumble bees, and assorted others on my sedums. A feast for the little bees.

Songbird, well I didn't take my own advice either--not on some anyway. The ones I did cut back are standing straight and look really good.

Hi Sherri, I agree, Frosty Morn would make a good accent for dark foliage.

Hi Abe, don't we wish other plants were as easy and carefree.


Rose said...

Thanks for the tips on propagating sedum, Marnie! My "Autumn Joys" are not looking too good this year, though. I was weeding and pruning in the main flowerbed and discovered two of the plants had wilted stems that came out of the ground as soon as I touched them. Any ideas what might be wrong with them? Without my sedums, there won't be much blooming this fall.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Phillip, cutting back works great but it is hard to remember to do it in the early summer when it is still short.

Hi Cameron, LOL, I don't know who I'm going to give the next batch of cuttings to. I'm running out of friends to dump plants on.

Hi Racquel, our Lowes is very disappointing, mostly annuals. Home Depot in this area has the best plants.

Hi BeadedTail, in a few years you have so many plants you don't know what to do with them;)

Hi Susie, you have a big advantage if you can bring little cuttings home from work;) I'd love to work in a garden center.


Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Troutbirder, it does look pretty bad about now. And this is the time it should look its best. Cut it back in June.

Hi Betsy, hope you have a great weekend too. Unfortunately I think I will be laboring at home most of the time;)

Hi Lisa, that's too bad. Funny thing happened to me, you know bishop's weed (the really obnoxious stuff that spreads so badly) I have it around the base of a tree and it reverted from the variegated to solid green. That was a surprise.

Hi Rose, the only time I've seen that happen here is if they get too much water the roots will rot. That's too bad, if it wasn't so late in the year I would send you some.


Kathleen said...

So interesting ~ I never used to like them either Marnie! I purchased my first one last year (Matrona) and have to say, I'm definitely warming to them. You've totally converted ~ so many varieties you have in your garden. I like that the bees love them, makes it more appealing to me.

marmee said...

marnie, i have just tried my first one this summer...still not sure what i think. it hasn't really done anything. i have it potted by itself and i don't think it is that pretty. it is interesting how some things grow on you.

Dog_geek said...

We planted sedum for the first time this summer - I got some for the container gardens, mostly because I was looking for drought resistant plants so I wouldn't have to water the containers every day like last year. (Of course, then we proceeded to have the rainiest summer ever.) Anyway, I guess now I will have to find a spot to put the sedum in the ground for next year!

Yarrow said...

Hi Marnie, lovely pictures. I like many sedums, but the first pictures are my favourites, although I have none of my own!

I've moved, btw, so you may find me here :)


TC said...

Tough as nails, those sedums. Felder Rushing showed me how to make a frog's belly from the leaf of a sedum. You cut it just so, separate it at the tip, and blow it up like a balloon.

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

You have sold me on Sedum! It is a beauty--I don't know why I haven't tried any in my garden!

Carol said...

Lovely post on Sedums Marnie... I love Autumn Joy for attracting butterflies... I once counted over thirty Monarchs on a cluster... and I enjoy watching the changing colors... they do need some staking in rich soil... or as Phillip suggests pinching back. Carol

Gayle said...

Very interesting and educational Marnie. Don't you just love the name Autumn Joy? How could it not be beautiful with that name?!

Judy said...

Well, maybe I will look more closely at the sedums that are in the gardens around here, Marnie. I doubt it will appear in my own in the near future, though!

Muhammad khabbab said...

nice pics of sedum. We do not grow muc sedum here. But the creeping variety does suit our climate. When the flowers form a kind of mat, they attract bees alot.

"Daffodil Planter" Charlotte Germane said...

Thank you for this Sedum review! I'm not a succulent fan so have avoided this group, but recently saw a pretty AJ on a trip to Idaho and that pushed me over the edge. I will try 'Frosty Morn' in my white xeriscape border. Will make note of all your tips!

Kerri said...

Like you, I wasn't excited about sedum initially, but now I love it, and really appreciate it...probably for the same reasons you do.
I had Matrona in my sedum dish garden the first year and it looked great, but it didn't winter over. I should've taken it out and put it in the ground.
Vera Jameson is very pretty.
Thanks for the tip on pruning. I think my sedum neon could've used it. The flower heads are smaller than they were the first year.

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