Autumn joy sedum plant

Companion Plants for Sedum

Autumn Joy sedum is the workhorse of the late summer and fall garden. It’s a moderately drought tolerant succulent that thrives in both full sun and partial shade. While it’s not too choosy about its soil, it does like good drainage. Choose one of these plants to plant alongside or as a border in front of your Autumn Joy sedums.

Asters and Chrysanthemums

Asters and chrysanthemums are hardy perennials that bloom in the fall. Like the sedum, they grow in most any soil and need little water. Asters’ small, star-like flowers come in various colors. Chrysanthemum’s full, colorful blooms mimic Autumn Joy’s broccoli-like buds. Choose a vivid yellow, orange or white that will stand out from Autumn Joy’s dark-red flowers.

Blue Fescue

The spiky, blue-gray foliage of blue fescue contrasts nicely with Autumn Joy’s soft green stems and leaves. Like the sedum, it requires well-drained soil and can handle full sun or partial shade.


Low mounds of colorful dianthus make a good choice to plant in front of Autumn Joy. They like full sun and well-drained soil. Like sedum, they require little maintenance. Most flower in late spring, but their showy leaves remain to frame your sedum.


If your Autumn Joy is planted in partial shade, consider adding hostas to the bed. They have the same light and water requirements as the sedum. Hostas’ tall, spiky flower stalks will complement Autumn Joy’s blooms.

Purple Coneflower

The purple coneflower, also called Echinacea, is a tall perennial that would look good behind your Autumn Joy. Its bright, daisy-like blooms attract butterflies, and the spiky seedheads will tower behind your sedum all through the fall. It grows easily in partial shade, but will require more frequent watering in full sun.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Ignite outstanding fall color in your landscape beds by tucking Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’) into the mix. Also known as Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude’ (Herbstfreude is German for “autumn joy”), this paddle-leafed perennial is tough to beat when it comes to providing seasonal interest. Discover some tips and tricks to growing ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum.
Like other members of the sedum clan, ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum squirrels away water in its fleshy, thickened leaves. This sedum is a type of succulent, related to hen-and-chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) and jade plant (Crassula ovata). All of these plants feature water-hoarding leaves that grow best in soil that’s on the dry side and has poor fertility. A compost enriched garden loam can actually sound a death knell for these water-wise plants.
When ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum is in rich, fertile soil, it responds with lush growth, which results in weak, floppy stems. One of the common experiences gardeners have with this long-season performer is clumps that kick off the growing season tight and upright, but end with bowing and flailing stems. One secret to overcoming stem flop is to keep soil light and lean. Consider adding a shovel of sand to planting holes if you’re tucking plants into rich garden loam.
Another way to keep ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum stems standing soldier straight is to insert hoop or grow-through type stakes around plant clumps early in the season. Stems also flop if plants aren’t in full sun. All sedum plants, including ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum, crave sunshine.
Many gardeners practice spring and summer pruning—cutting ‘Autumn Joy’ stems back—to encourage plants to grow to a shorter overall height. Pruning also creates shorter stems with more branching. To prune sedum, cut plants back by half in late spring or early summer (June in most places). Pruning causes ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum to flower later, which creates a lingering flower show in fall.
‘Autumn Joy’ sedum forms flower buds atop stems in summer. For a long time, the buds are chartreuse, adding interest to the summer garden. In late summer, the green buds open to reveal pink flowers that last about six weeks in the garden. The flowers fade to a bronze color, which ultimately turns an almost chestnut brown that stands sturdily in winter snow. Many gardeners let flowers remain in the garden through winter for visual interest.
The eye-catching flowers beckon all kinds of pollinators. ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum is a great addition to a wildlife or butterfly garden as a late-season nectar source. Its blooms provide wide landing platforms for bees, wasps and other pollinating insects.
‘Autumn Joy’ sedum is hardy in Zones 3 to 8. This fall favorite also comes in several other forms. The traditional ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum opens light pink flowers above green leaves. ‘Autumn Charm’ sedum (Sedum telephium ‘Autumn Charm’) has similar blooms on stems with variegated, white-edged green leaves. ‘Autumn Fire’ (Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Fire’) is an improved variety of ‘Autumn Joy’. It’s slowly phasing ‘Autumn Joy’ out of the marketplace. Compared to ‘Autumn Joy’, ‘Autumn Fire’ has larger flower heads, stronger stems and a longer flowering window.

Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’ (Showy Stonecrop) – A succulent perennial to 18 to 24 inches tall that has 1-2 inches wide cabbage-like rosettes of succulent pale blue-green ovate leaves to 4 inches long by 2 inches wide held from later winter to fall. The rich, dark pink flowers put on a spectacular show above the foliage in the summer and fall; first to appear in mid-summer are the attractive heads of tightly packed green flower buds that rise just above the foliage and by late summer these open in flat cluster to reveal a mass of tiny dark pink flowers. Plant in sun in a dry well-drained soil and water regularly to occasionally – it is relatively drought tolerant as perennials go but needs to be irrigated more than most succulent plants. Foliage dies back during winter but is root hardy below -30 °F (USDA Zone 3). This species, native to China and Japan, is now considered to have the name Hylotephium spectabile, but is most often still listed as Sedum spectabile or Sedum telephium. This group of Sedum was given the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 1993, with its upright form and abundant foliage clumps, This plant can be a substantial element in the rock garden, perennial garden or spotted into a natural meadow setting. It attracts bees and butterflies to the garden and is resistant to predation by deer. If not pruned back it can provide some interest in winter as well as a food source for birds but stems should be removed prior to new buds opening in February. The information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery’s garden and in other gardens that we have observed it in. We also will incorporate comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that might aid others in growing Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’.

Sedum Autumn Joy also known as Hylotelephium (hy-loh-te-LEE-fee-um) is a herbaceous perennial originating in China and belongs to the family Crassulacea.

The plant gets its name from the beautiful flowers that bloom during the fall months from late September to late October.

It is a low maintenance Sedum plant popular due to the interest it can add to any landscape all year long as it goes through changes throughout the seasons.

NOTE: The official name is Hylotephium spectabile but is still listed and sold as Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’ and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Sedum Autumn Joy Care

Size & Growth

Sedum spectabile Autumn Joy has a moderate growth rate and continues to grow until the plant reaches 24″ inches tall.

It has a rounded appearance and a spread of about 18” to 24” and listed as hardy to grow in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9.

Flowering and Fragrance

This plant has round shaped or flat thick leaves, deep green in color.

During the blooming season from late summer to late fall, Autumn Joy produces flower heads with gorgeous ornamental rich, dark pink flowers that will either be pink, white, or red in color.

These flowers start off as a pale green, open up to pinker petals and will eventually fade to a copper brown color until winter rolls around. The flowers have no fragrance.

Light & Temperature

Autumn Joy does best in full sun, but can handle some light shade.

It is not a frost-hardy plant and unlikely to survive in temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it will grow back once spring rolls back around.

Watering and Feeding

Autumn Joy has low water requirements. Once established it is drought tolerant due to its ability to store water in its thick leaves.

Water plants more if planted in full sun during unusually hot weather.

The plant will do well with regular watering when the soil begins to dry out. Make sure not to overwater Autumn Joy plants.

For fertilizing, stay clear of high-nitrogen varieties as the nitrogen helps plants produce weak growth.

The best choice is to add a layer of compost on an annual basis.

Soil & Transplanting

Well-drained soil is essential for a healthy Sedum. It cannot survive in waterlogged, heavy soil.

Rich soil is also a no-go as it causes plants to have flopping stems and weaker growth.

Transplant Autumn Joy in spring as soon as you see new growth appearing.

This will give the roots a chance to settle in before the extreme heat of summer arrives.

Grooming and Maintenance

Prune plants in the fall or early spring to keep them short.

How to Propagate Hylotelephiumdum Autumn Joy

Propagate sedums through division or cutting.

When using division to propagate Autumn Joy, take care to do it on a day when it’s not too hot.

Dig around the perimeter of the plant until the plants lift easily out of the soil (no heavy pulling).

Divide plants gently using your hands or by cutting it with a knife.

Plant the new division in its decided location and make sure to keep the soil moist until the plant takes root.

If propagating using cuttings, take cuttings from newer growth as opposed to older mature stems which root much slower.

The best time to take cuttings is during their growing season either early in the morning or late afternoon.

Cut about 2″ to 6″ inches and remove the leaves along the stalk.

Place them in a plastic bag along with a slightly damp paper towel to keep the cuttings from drying out before planting.

Plant the cutting in a well-draining cactus soil mix and wait for roots to form.

Autumn Joy Sedum Pest or Disease Problems

This plant may be toxic when consumed. Keep children away and take extra precautions when handling it.

Sedum Autumn Joy is also susceptible to visits from deer and aphids from time to time.

Control Aphids by applying diatomaceous earth (food grade).

Suggested Uses For Autumn Joy Sedum

Autumn Joy is deer resistant and makes a great addition to any rock garden. It can also be grown as a border plant or as a container plant.

It goes well as part of a winter landscape due to the dry stems that stay throughout the season even as the flowers and leaves die down.

Hylotelephium spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’

  • Attributes: Genus: Hylotelephium Species: spectabile Family: Crassulaceae Life Cycle: Perennial Recommended Propagation Strategy: Division Leaf Cutting Stem Cutting Country Or Region Of Origin: China, hybrid origin Wildlife Value: Flowers are attractive to butterflies and bees and provide a fall nectar source. Play Value: Attractive Flowers Attracts Pollinators Textural Wildlife Food Source Edibility: Stems and leaves, when very young and tender, may be eaten raw. Later, until they flower, they may be briefly cooked. Dimensions: Height: 1 ft. 6 in. – 2 ft. 0 in. Width: 1 ft. 6 in. – 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Herbaceous Perennial Perennial Poisonous Succulent Leaf Characteristics: Deciduous Habit/Form: Ascending Clumping Spreading Growth Rate: Rapid Maintenance: Medium Texture: Coarse
  • Fruit: Display/Harvest Time: Fall Winter Fruit Type: Capsule Fruit Description: in winter, browned flower heads are considered ornamental
  • Flowers: Flower Color: Gold/Yellow Orange Pink Purple/Lavender Red/Burgundy White Flower Inflorescence: Cyme Flower Value To Gardener: Showy Flower Bloom Time: Fall Summer Flower Shape: Star Flower Petals: 4-5 petals/rays Flower Size: < 1 inch Flower Description: 4-5-parted, forming light pink buds that fully open to red in late summer to fall. Flowers are clustered in cymes 3″-6″ across.
  • Leaves: Leaf Characteristics: Deciduous Leaf Color: Gray/Silver Green Leaf Feel: Fleshy Leathery Smooth Leaf Value To Gardener: Showy Leaf Type: Simple Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Leaf Margin: Entire Serrate Hairs Present: No Leaf Length: 1-3 inches Leaf Width: 1-3 inches Leaf Description: Succulent gray-green perennial herb with fleshy, flat or rounded leaves

  • Stem: Stem Color: Gray/Silver Green Stem Is Aromatic: No Stem Description: Fleshy
  • Landscape: Landscape Location: Container Houseplants Naturalized Area Pool/Hardscape Recreational Play Area Woodland Landscape Theme: Butterfly Garden Children’s Garden Drought Tolerant Garden Pollinator Garden Rock Garden Winter Garden Design Feature: Accent Border Foundation Planting Small groups Specimen Attracts: Bees Butterflies Pollinators Songbirds Resistance To Challenges: Drought Dry Soil Poor Soil
  • Poisonous to Humans: Poison Severity: Low Poison Symptoms: Unknown, but possibly gastrointestinal symptoms. CAUSES ONLY LOW TOXICITY IF EATEN. Poison Toxic Principle: Alkaloids sedine, sedamine, and others. Causes Contact Dermatitis: No Poison Part: Flowers Leaves Roots Stems

Autumn Joy Sedum Variety – Learn How To Grow Autumn Joy Plants

One of the more versatile and architecturally appealing sedums is Autumn Joy. The Autumn Joy sedum variety has numerous seasons of appeal, starting with its sweet rosettes of new growth in late winter to early spring. The flower is also persistent, often lasting well into winter, providing a unique dried scape. This is an easy plant to grow and divide. Growing Autumn Joy sedums will enhance the garden while bestowing you with plenty more of these amazing plants over time.

About Autumn Joy Sedum Plants

Sedum Autumn Joy plants (Sedum x ‘Autumn Joy’) are not garden divas. They thrive in conditions that other plants might consider rude. Once established, they are drought tolerant but they also flourish in rainy regions. The key is well-draining soil and plenty of sunshine. Provide these circumstances and your plant will not only bloom and grow quickly but can be separated to produce many more of these un-fussy beauties.

The Autumn Joy sedum variety is a cross between S. spectabile and S. telephium and hardy in United States Department of Agriculture zones 3 to 10. You may find the plant under various names for this reason –
Hylotelephium telephium ‘Autumn Joy’ or Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’ or even Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude.’

The succulent leaves emerge early as rosettes and march up stems that develop soon after. In summer, pink puffs of flower clusters adorn the tops of the stems. These are especially attractive to bees and butterflies, but an occasional hummingbird may also investigate them.

As the flowers become spent, the whole head becomes dried and tan but retains its form, adding an interesting touch to the fall garden. The plants attain a height of 1 ½ feet (.46 m.) with a 2-foot (.61 m.) spread.

How to Grow Autumn Joy

These plants are readily available at most nurseries and big box stores. Their popularity ensures a consistent supply. You can enhance your stock of this fun plant by dividing it in early spring or by stem cuttings. It can also grow from fleshy stems harvested in fall and placed horizontally in a soilless medium in a sunny location of the home. In just a month or so, each leaf node will develop tiny roots. Each of these may be removed and planted for individual new plants.

The plants have few pest or disease issues but may occasionally be browsed by deer. You may also try growing Autumn Joy sedums indoors or in containers. Their long-lasting flowers will decorate any area for up to 8 weeks with rusty pink blooms.

Sedum Autumn Joy plants are often one of the few nectar producing flowers in late summer, feeding bees and other insects. You can eat the plant, too! Young, tender stems and leaves can be eaten raw but the older material should be avoided as moderate stomach upset can occur unless cooked.

These hardy plants are members of the Stonecrop family. The sap in the thick leaves is useful in alleviating inflammation or as a cooling, salve on burns and rashes. With its medicinal attributes, long flower life and ease of care, Autumn Joy is truly a joy of a plant and one you should add to your perennial flower garden.

This perennial dies back to below ground level each year in autumn, then fresh new growth appears again in spring.

  • Position: full sun
  • Soil: moderately fertile, well-drained, neutral to slightly alkaline soil
  • Rate of growth: average to fast-growing
  • Flowering period: August to September
  • Hardiness: fully hardy
    Flat-topped flowerheads, which can grow up to 20cm across, are made up of greenish white buds that open to pale pink, star-shaped flowers. These quickly turn rich pink and later fade to brown as they mature in late summer and autumn.
  • Garden care: The flowerheads look great left during the winter to add shape and texture to your border. In February and March cut back the old flowerheads and apply a generous 5-7cm (2-3in) mulch of well-rotted garden compost or manure around the base of the plant. Once established, sedums can have a tendency to flop leaving an open and unsightly centre, especially in fertile soil. One technique to help prevent this is the ‘Chelsea chop’. During the last week of May (Chelsea Flower Show week), cut one in every three stems back to the ground. This will produce plants that are less lush and flower slightly later.

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