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    Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’ mingles with a well-designed mix of textural perennials and shrubs.

    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.

    Sedum ‘Thunderhead’

    Sedum 'Thunderhead' has some of the deepest rose-pink flowers. (photo care of Terra Nova, Nurseries)

    Sedum ‘Thunderhead’ has some of the deepest rose-pink flowers. (photo care of Terra Nova, Nurseries)

    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’

    The deepest rose-purple blooms of ‘Dark Magic’ are emboldened by the orange-red flowers of Coreopsis ‘Ladybird’. (Image thanks to Terra Nova Nurseries)

    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’

    ‘Crystal Pink’ has sparkling pale pink flowers on low, mounding plants. (Image thanks to Terra Nova Nurseries)

    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’

    Frosty Morn

    Variegated leaves add to the visual appeal of ‘Frosty Morn’

    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.

    The deep rose flowers of ‘Autumn Delight’ look lovely against its variegated leaves.

    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

    Bees and butterflies are attracted to tall sedum flowers.

    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.

    About Jessie Keith


    Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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