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Sedum? Buy some -- and brighten fall perennial garden with flowers, foliage


'Autumn Joy' sedum 

Few things are certain in life except death and taxes — and “Autumn Joy” sedum in the fall perennial border.

This one is a classic, beloved for its reliability year after year, the large domed flowers that change from soft green to dusky pink and finally to dusty brick red as the seasons progress from spring to autumn, and their bushel-basket girth and height at maturity.

Thanks to our plentiful rainfall, the multiple “Autumn Joys” in my garden are about 48 inches tall, and their bulging waistlines are held in place by an assortment of peony rings or low corsets made from green hardware cloth. Staking keeps plants from splitting apart during a rain deluge, and done early in the growing season, becomes practically invisible as plants grow. It’s difficult to gather and straighten stems after the plant has gone down, but it can be done with plastic green rebar stakes, garden twine and an extra pair of hands to hold the plant together as you weave the twine through the stems and around stakes for support.

The late gardener Sir Christopher Lloyd, owner of the famed British estate, Great Dixter, also suggested pruning sedums by about a third before flowering to create strong, bushier plants less likely to fall apart.

This low-maintenance succulent can handle dry garden sites, as well as humidity. They attract birds and aren’t on a rabbit’s menu. Plant them in mostly sunny locations in average soil for best results. Blooming is generally from late summer to early fall. Remove dried foliage in early spring when new growth appears. 

Beyond “Autumn Joy,” you’ll find a range of sedums that are well-worth planting and treasuring in the garden.

“Blade Runner.” An upright sedum, flowers are plum-purple rising on red stems above serrated foliage. “Red Cauli.” Red stems with flowers that turn nearly true-red in autumn.

“Brilliant.” Want big blooms? These are dinner-plated size that turn rust-red.

"Purple Emperor." Plum-red stems and foliage and pink flower clusters make a dramatic autumn statement. 

“Dragon’s Blood.” This makes a wonderful ground cover when several are planted close together; star-shaped pink flowers. Foliage turns red as weather turns cool.

“Kamtschaticum.” Long-lasting flowers bloom yellow in late spring and turn to bronze in late summer. Foliage is scalloped.

“Harvest Moon.” A short, ground-hugging sedum with silver and purplish rosettes; yellow flowers in late summer. 

“Blue Spruce.” An unusual sedum with conifer-like foliage; yellow flowers.

“Frosty Morn.” A shorty that only grows to 12 inches tall with silver-white variegated foliage. 

“Sunset Cloud.” Steel-blue and plum foliage, this low-grower produces rosy red flowers at the tips in fall.

“Sieboldii.”  At 4 inches tall, it’s still an attention0getting cluster of blue-green foliage and pink flowers. 


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