A member of the stonecrop family, the huge species of sedum includes an excellent variety of perennials, annuals and shrubs, offering good ground cover and lovely garden foliage for much of the year. This hardy species grows well in rock gardens or at the front of a herbaceous border and needs very little water to flourish, making it ideal for drought-like conditions. Pruning should be carried out after flowering and plants can be divided in spring if necessary.
The clusters of rounded waxy, succulent green leaves of the sedum appear in spring and continue to grow throughout the summer, providing interesting foliage. Those varieties which flower, such as the pretty pink “autumn joy,” will produce flowering stalks until late summer when the blooms gradually appear and darken. Although they will turn brown into the winter months, you can leave the flower heads until the new leaves appear before pruning, according to The Best Plants for Your Garden.
Sedums tend to be vigorous plants that thrive and spread in garden beds. To maintain the shape of the plants, the Royal Horticultural Society suggests that they should be cut back and pruned after summer flowering is finished, usually in autumn. Using secateurs, cut the dead flowers and stalks just above any new cluster of leaves. Alternatively, the faded flowers may be left over winter to offer some protection to new growth then cut back in spring.
Sedum is best planted in groups in well-drained, light soil in full sun, although the more vigorous species can tolerate light shade. Gardener’s World suggests dividing varieties such as the popular Ice plant, or “sedum spectabile,” roughly every few years between March and May to improve flowering. This is especially advisable once the plants have increased in size and are in danger of becoming too top-heavy.
The seeds of hardier species of sedum can be sown in a container and placed in a cold frame in autumn, while annuals can be sown straight into the garden in mid-spring. Cuttings may be taken from the non-flowering shoots of perennial and shrub species of sedum in early summer. According to the National Gardening Association, sedums are easy to propagate by taking tip cuttings, which should then be pushed into moistened soil mix and watered. The new plants should take root in around three weeks when they can be transplanted into pots or garden.