Autumn Joy Sedum is a great late summer-fall bloomer that benefits from summer pruning to keep it looking its best.
Pruning Autumn Joy Sedum in June will result in a shorter height which means the stems will be stronger. They’ll be less likely to flop over, and the growing habit of the plant will be more upright and in a tighter clump. This early summer pruning will also cause it to flower later which will last into fall. You’ll want to prune back about half of the plant in June.
To help Autumn Joy Sedum with its stem flopping issues, it’s also best to plant in full sun and well-drained soils that are allowed to dry out. In spring-summer, flower heads will be light green and will open to pink and fade to bronze in fall and get darker as winter sets in. Many people like to keep the blooms on throughout winter for interest until spring, but they can be removed in late fall/early winter if you don’t like the look of them.
How do you maintain your Autumn Joy Sedum? Do you prune them in June or leave them be until next year? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!
The live-forever plant or Allegheny stonecrop (Sedum telephioides) is a succulent that is very drought-tolerant and has small white or purplish pink blooms during the fall. It is hardy to USDA horticultural zones 5 and warmer. It grows wild in much of the Eastern U.S. and has a unique habit as it forms clamshell-like rosettes before growing into a 6-to-8-inch-tall plant. The plant can regenerate from small portions of the plant and grows in disturbed areas of the countryside, such as along roadsides and rock outcroppings.
Find an area of the garden that is well-drained where the sun shines between four and six hours each day. Morning sun exposure is best. Although the live-forever plant is a succulent and drought-tolerant, it grows better in dry shade rather than a dry site with all-day sun.
Dig a hole with the small garden spade wide enough to accommodate the root base of the live-forever plant you are planting. You do not need to add compost or fertilizer to the planting hole because the live-forever plant will grow in native soil.
Plant the live-forever plant in the planting hole at the same level it was previously planted and refill the hole with native soil, adding a little water into the planting hole at the same time to eliminate the formation of any air pockets. Lightly tamp down the soil to secure the plant into the ground.
Spread a 1/2-inch layer of mulch around the root base of the new plant so the soil remains evenly moist but not wet. Add water over the mulch and new planting to settle the plant into its new location.
Indoors or out, in the greenhouse or sunny winter window, in a permanent perennial planter or summer container – wherever you want a creeping or trailing succulent – there’s a sedum to suit your purpose. These are perfectly delightful plants, with thick, leathery or juicy leaves, flowering happily in the sun and thriving on neglect. The hardy types may be evergreen, but always adaptable to growing indoors.
Sedums need all possible sunlight and coarse, sandy soil. Indoors, they like cool temperatures (55 degrees) but will take more warmth if necessary. Water regularly except during the brief rest at the end of the flowering period. Propagation is by spring-sown seeds, which make flowering plants in two or three years, offsets, division, pieces of stem planted without prerooting, and mature leaves laid on moist soil or sand.
Sedum acre – Hardy, evergreen, matting creeper with tiny, oblong, light-green leaves and half-inch yellow flowers in spring or summer.
Sedum dasyphyllum – Also hardy, evergreen, and matting, with fat, 1/8 inch, oval, blue-green leaves, pink-tinged white flowers in early summer. Seldom as much as two inches high. To increase your plants or make a miniature ground cover, simply sprinkle the tiny leaves on the soil.
Sedum lineare variegatum – Evergreen trailer with small, slim leaves margined or nearly covered with creamy white; starry yellow flowers in summer. Delightful in a basket or small compositions. The plain-leaved species is also available.
Sedum mexicanum – Evergreen trailer with half-inch green leaves and yellow flowers, excellent in pots, baskets, all kinds of containers.
Sedum morganianum – burro’s or donkey’s tail – Silvery green leaves closely packed around stems that trail to three feet, like heavy, swinging chains. Does not flower frequently, but who cares? A newly introduced hybrid has yellowish green leaves tinged with red.
Sedum palmeri – Spreading, drooping branches with frosted one-inch leaves, orange flowers in early spring.
Sedum sieboldi – Reliably hardy garden perennial with wandering stems, one-inch rounded leaves arranged in threes and touched with blue or red. Pink flowers in fall. Pretty in a basket.
Sedum spectabile – Hardy perennial with three-inch oval leaves sometimes in pairs, sometimes threes; pink flowers in fall.
Sedum stahli – Boston bean, coral beads – Tender, low evergreen with eight-inch trailing stems; beanlike red-copper leaves packed tight around the stem; half-inch yellow flowers in summer and fall. Leaf coloring is brightest in lean soil and full sun.
Common Name: Live Forever
Live forever flowers are quite small, measuring 8 mm in width. The petals are a deep purplish-pink at the tapered, distal end and are light pink or white towards the center. The flowers are radially symmetrical and form a star-shaped bloom. The stamens are overly-pronounced and the sepals are short. Flowers are arranged in dense rounded clusters that grow out of the terminal shoot.
The fruit is relatively small withbrown seeds inside. This fruit grows out of the live forever flower and matures when the petals fall off and the fruit left on the stalk dries.
The leaves of the live forever can grow moderatley large, averaging approximately 2.5-6.5 cm in length, and are broadly long-to-ovate. They are coarsely-, regularly-toothed, smoothed skinned, and fleshy.
Live forever grows best in open woods and along roadsides. As evidenced by the common name, this wildflower is robust and can even thrive in disturbed areas.
Live forever is amazingly persistent and can regenerate from any fragment of its composition. This trait, along with its robust appearance, account for the meaning of its common name.
The leave of the live forever are so robust that they can be separated to make “ballon purses” (fun exercise for children).
With a distribution range that extends across much of the Northern Hemisphere, this genus belonging to the stonecrop (Crassulaceae) family contains 300 species, most of which are low spreading succulents that vary enormously in foliage and form. Some of the larger autumn-flowering species are now classified under Hylotelephium and Rhodiola. The genus name is derived from the Latin sedere, meaning to sit, a reference to the low spreading habit of these plants. A number of species have been used medicinally and as salad vegetables, some are grown for the appearance of their flowers, and some for the colourful body of the plant.
Sedum species vary enormously in growth habit, ranging from shrubby plants to trailing succulents, to compact mat-forming plants. Their easy-care nature, and ability to thrive in everyday conditions makes them a popular addition to the home garden. Their leaves are usually short, often flattened ovals or spoon-shaped, very fleshy, and can often develop fiery hues in the sun. In summer and autumn, dense sprays of tiny, white, light to golden yellow, or pink flowers are produced at the stem tips.
These plants are easily grown in any sunny or partly shaded position with light well-drained soil. Most species are drought tolerant, but appreciate water when in flower. Species from arid areas should be kept dry during winter. Hardiness varies with the species the hardier species are generally well suited to everyday garden conditions. Spent flowerheads should be removed. Propagation is from short stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, or seed.
Gardening Australia suggests you check with your local authorities regarding the weed potential of any plants for your particular area.
© Global Book Publishing (Australia) Pty Ltd from Flora’s Gardening Cards
Help, My Sedums Are Too Heavy: Tips For Supporting And Pruning Sedum
Succulents are my all-time favorite variety of plants, and sedum plants top that list. The larger sedum varieties, such as Autumn Joy, produce huge flower heads. By the end of the season you may find sedums falling over from the weight. Other causes of bowed sedum heads may be rich soil or overwatering.
About Sedum Plants
The Sedum family encompasses plants that trail, spread like ground cover, tower 2 or more feet and those that just barely graze your ankles. The variety of the group allows the home gardener an opportunity to bring these relatively hardy succulents into their landscape.
The thick leaves are coated with a waxy substance to help conserve water, making these plants tolerant of low moisture conditions. Sedum plants come back in spring and begin as ground hugging rosettes. Soon stems form and then starry clusters of flowers. In the larger sedums, these mass into a globe of purple, pink, salmon or white color.
Top Heavy Sedum
Some sedum plants can get a bloom cluster the size of a man’s fist or even larger. The top heavy sedum can usually hold the huge flower up on the thick stock, but occasionally the flower bows to the ground or the stalk may even break.
Weak stems are the result of overly rich soil. Sedum plants are tolerant of poor growing conditions and even thrive in sandy or gritty medium. Rich and soggy soils will cause the stems to bend and you will see your sedums falling over. To prevent this, you should mix in some sand to the site soil prior to planting the succulents.
Sedums planted in low light areas may also grow spindly stems as the plant stretches for the sun. Ensure that these succulents get full sun exposure.
What to Do if Sedums are Too Heavy
Those big beautiful heads may get nodding due to a variety of conditions. You can move the plant in fall to a more suitable location or amend the soil. The short term solution is to stake the plant so the stem has support. Sedum flowers make interesting architectural additions to the winter garden and can be left on the plant until spring. They dry out in fall and have a textural appeal.
Older plants respond well to division. Dig up the entire plant in the dormant season and cut the root and plant in half. Alternately, look for offsets or baby plants and pull them away from the parent plant. Once planted and established, these babies will produce quickly and better than the aged parent.
Sedum plants respond well to pruning and tend to form a bushier plant in the next burst of spring growth. Use sharp pruners or garden shears to take the stems back to within an inch of the soil in early spring. Take care to avoid the new growth that is coming up.
Pinching will enforce bushier plants. Pinch off the new growth near the soil and it will form a more compact stem and thicker growth.
Pruning sedum succulents that are growing in low light conditions may help them form a sturdier stem. Cut the stem back to 6 inches. You will delay any blooms, but the stalk will grow thicker and help support the flowers when they come.
In the end, if your sedums are too heavy on top, take the flower and bring it inside to enjoy as a cut bloom. They are a joy both indoors and out.
Thorny problems: growing sedums
I have a shady, north-west-facing corner in my small suburban garden. It receives a few hours of sun in the late afternoon. Behind the 6ft fence, both my neighbours have grown large conifers.
The soil often feels bone dry and most plants I try to grow fail. Would digging my excess grass clippings help to make it a more plant-friendly area? Have you any suggestions for plants to cover the fence? Dr Neil Arnold, Cambridge
This is the classic gardening problem in back-to-back suburban gardens – one man’s sunny corner is another man’s shady desert.
Try to imagine that the fence is not there. Would you be tempted to plant anything so close to the base of conifers? The sour, rooty soil is bone dry because it receives little rain or light, and all moisture is sucked up by those wretched trees.
Wouldn’t this difficult area be quite a good place to sit in those delicious few hours of late afternoon sun? Instead of fighting nature, you could make a place from which to enjoy the rest of the garden. Line the fences in the corner with trellis, which, bare of miserable, under-performing plants, will probably look quite pleasing.
By all means spread the grass clippings on the ground if it solves a disposal problem – the neighbours’ trees will be grateful. Then cover the area with coarse bark chippings and find yourself a classy-looking, high-backed bench.
Something undemanding and eye-catching, such as a variegated castor oil plant in an outsized classic pot – nothing jazzy – will probably thrive there. OK, here be no hebes, hyacinths or hellebores, I grant you. But equally, here be no horticultural headache.
Bolting horses and stable doors notwithstanding, M Buxton, from Eastbourne, and many other readers have written about daddy-long-legs (crane flies), whose larvae (leatherjackets) wreak havoc on their turf in spring.
Alan Pearson, from St Martin in Cornwall, who has only a small lawn but is surrounded by agricultural grassland, regularly swats more than 100 of the traily legged adult flies off the back wall of his house each morning at hatching time in September and October.
What can be done? M Buxton should try Lawnclear L, a biological control from Green Gardener (01603 716986). Lawnclear L should be applied when the soil is warm and moist in September or October – maybe this information comes a bit late for this year.
Another approach would be to place a plastic sheet over thoroughly wetted areas of affected grass overnight. By early morning, many leatherjackets will have worked their way upwards under the plastic. Whip the sheet off the area and the birds will come in for the kill. Alan should invest in a second fly swat.
Sweepers, seeds and sloes
Returning to the, alas, still topical subject of leaf-sweeping Malcolm Waite tells me he swears by his plastic-headed lawn rake for easy leaf-sweeping. And I have at last tracked down a lightweight, aluminium, two-handled grabber, as recommended by fellow bored leaf-sweeper, Oliver le Maistre, which eliminates a lot of bending and saves a great deal of plywood. Made by Standard, the grabber can be ordered through garden centres.
I get the odd inquiry about what should be done with left-over seeds, and now is as good a time as any to mention a solution. Dr P Gregory, 304 Stockton Road, Hartlepool, Cleveland TS25 1JT, is happy to receive surplus vegetable seeds for a children’s project in the Gambia. Thanks to Mrs Wakeford, from Chalfont St Giles, for this information.
Numerous readers have sent me modified sloe gin recipes, similar to the one I outlined on October 20. However, R Stevens emailed that, while gin is great flavoured with damsons and sloes, the subsequent fruit mush, melted with an equal quantity of chocolate, put in petits four cases and chilled, makes a wonderful after-dinner treat. Tony Ellis thinks so too. Who said this was just a gardening column?
- Write to Thorny Problems at [email protected] or Gardening, The Daily Telegraph, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DT. Helen can answer queries only through this column.