August is gone and even though the temperature is dropping slightly, too, where we can once again stand to spend some time in the garden, unfortunately you will find that many of the perennials have already peaked and it won’t be long before you need to cut them back.
But this is the time when Sedum Autumn Joy really begins to stand out on its own. This is a great three-season perennial which starts out the spring season looking like tiny heads of cabbage. As spring and summer progress, the stems lengthen and leaves broaden to a very distinctive, succulent look. The foliage has a nice bright green color and makes a great filler. By mid-summer the flower buds begin to form and cover the plant with open sprays of chartreuse.
I was wandering my flower beds and noticed that the flower heads have tightened up into umbels, and while some still remain a bright green, others are turning several shades of pink; from very pale pink to a deeper rose. As autumn continues, the colors will deepen to cranberry and then garnet.
By winter, these seed heads will have turned brown and can be cut off or left for some winter interest. They look lovely dusted with snow.
Sedums don’t require much during the growing season. If you find they get too tall and splay open in your garden, pinch them back early in the summer before flowers form. This will force the plant to branch out and stay dense and compact.
Sedum Autumn Joy reaches 2 feet in height and does best if planted in full sun. Small fritillary butterflies flock to sedums in August and September.
Sedum Autumn Joy is a good companion with Russian sage, coneflowers or black-eyed Susan’s, but I love to team it with Solidago fireworks, for a beautiful autumn combination.
Laurie Rubner is the owner and operator of The Arbor Garden Center in Bethlehem.
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