Tall Sedums for Fall Gardens
Tall sedums (Sedum spectabile hybrids) look pretty through much of the year—aside from late winter and spring, before they have broken bud. Through summer they provide mounds of lush, blue-green foliage, and in early winter their dried flower heads hold up moderately well before being flattened by snow, but late summer and fall are when they shine the most. Their sturdy stems support mounds of rosy pink blooms that glow in the late-season sun. New varieties make growing and designing with these tried-and-true perennials even more gratifying and fun.
Bold Tall Sedums & Planting Combos
Tall sedums have broken the mold of the old-fashioned dusky pink ‘Autumn Joy’ of your grandmother’s garden. Extra bright flowers and unique foliage colors, like bronze, purple and near-black, mark some of the newer tall sedum varieties. Some are extra tall and others are very compact and more densely flowered.
Take the ‘Thunderhead’ introduction by Terra Nova Nurseries; its giant, bright, rose-red flower heads stand on strong, 18” stems above bronzy green foliage. For a great planting combo, plant it in swaths alongside soft, mounding, blue-green ‘Blue Zinger’ sedge and bright-yellow flowered Helianthus ‘Low Down’, which only grows to 2-feet high.
Sedum ‘Dark Magic’
One for outstanding foliage as well as flowers is the 2015 introduction ‘Dark Magic’, which has deepest burgundy foliage all season and large heads of burgundy pink flowers in late-summer and fall. The compact plants only reach 12” high, making this a great plant for border edges. Its upright habit makes it the perfect complement to lower, more mounded grasses and perennials. Try evergreen, lavender-flowered germander (Teucrium chamaedrys) or tidy thyme (Thymus spp.) plants.
Sedum ‘Crystal Pink’
In contrast, the super compact ‘Crystal Pink’ becomes literally covered with palest green and pink flowers. Plants reach no more than one foot and their light flowers complement taller, darker-colored garden plants.
Sedum ‘Frosty Morn’ and ‘Autumn Delight’
Another bright sedum is the cool ‘Frosty Morn’. This variegated counterpart to ‘Autumn Joy’ is surprisingly vigorous. Its bright mounds of foliage complement darker-leaved plants and are best planted in clumps of five to seven plants to show off the silvery effect of the ivory-edged leaves. Late in the season, they become topped with subtle, dusty pink flowers. The darker flowered ‘Autumn Delight’ is a bolder variegated form with deeper variegated leaves and bright rose flowers.
Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’
Gardeners looking for classic tall sedum looks but more exciting flowers might consider ‘Autumn Fire’. Tall plants produce large, flattened clusters of rose-pink flowers that are to a darker, richer hue. The plants themselves have significant presence in the landscape with their dense stems that reach 2 to 3 feet high.
Growing Tall Sedums
Like all sedums, these plants prefer drier feet, but they aren’t as drought tolerant as some of the short, spreading Sedum species able to withstand really high heat and drought. Plant tall sedums in porous, mineral-rich soil with added organic matter. Raised bed spaces can be amended with Fafard Premium Natural & Organic Compost for perfect rooting.
All sedums attract bees and butterflies, making them perfect for pollinator gardens. After fall flowering, the seedheads should be left until they are no longer ornamental. Cut them back on a dry midwinter’s day, and wait until the soils warm in spring and their rosettes of fleshy leaves begin to grow again.
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