If you walk into a garden center and ask for a sedum, you’re likely to be asked right back, “Which one?” The fact is, there are just so many of these terrific plants – about 400 species worldwide! And the selections available for the garden all share some wonderful characteristics: plump, waxy, interesting leaves and fascinating flowers. What’s more? They’re some of the lowest-maintenance plants around!

Sedum 'Autumn Fire'

‘Autumn Fire’ sedum is a wonderful alternative to the ever-popular ‘Autumn Joy’ because it doesn’t get as lanky.

Photo Credit: Jessie Keith

Sedum 'Frost Morn'

Next time you’re in the garden center, ask about neat variegated sedums like beautiful ‘Frosty Morn’ stonecrop.

Photo Credit: Yoder Brothers Co.

Sedum 'Matrona'

Another fantastic four-season favorite is ‘Matrona’ sedum.

Photo Credit: Yoder Brothers Co.

Sedum 'Pink Bomb'

True to its name, ‘Pink Bomb’ sedum has flowers that are among the truest pink of any stonecrop.

Photo Credit: Yoder Brothers Co.

Sedum 'Brilliant'

‘Brilliant’ sedum features flowers that tend more toward magenta, making it a little different than most of its kind.

Photo Credit: Yoder Brothers Co.

These sun-loving succulents are especially good in hot, dry spots that bake all afternoon long. While the low-growing sedums tend to do better in desert conditions, the taller types are generally more cold-hardy. In fact, tall sedums work just about anywhere in the country, with most of them enduring even USDA hardiness Zone 3 winters (the northernmost part of the country). And they’ll do well right through Zone 10 in the southernmost region of the USedum

Exactly how tall are “tall” sedums? They typically grow between 10 and 24 inches – sometimes a bit higher. These succulent wonders mix perfectly into flower beds and borders – and they even look great in their own bed! They’re perhaps the only perennial in the garden that looks good from the moment it emerges from the ground in spring on through fall (when it peaks with its flower show) and into winter. In fact, many gardeners don’t cut back their tall sedums in fall during garden cleanup. Instead, they allow them to dry, untouched in the garden, where they add winter interest and look lovely with a dusting of snow.

As more gardeners discover sedums, plant breeders have responded by offering more varied types. ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum (Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’ – also known as Sedum spectabile ‘Herbstfreude’) is by far the most popular, but it can get tall and floppy. If that’s an issue for you, check out ‘Autumn Fire’ sedum, which is very similar but has a tighter growth habit. (Its flowers are also a more intense brick red.) And keep an eye out for more varied foliage in tall sedums. Increasingly, variegated, lime-green and burgundy-colored leaves are becoming available to home gardeners.

No matter which selection you choose, plant tall sedums in full sun (at least 6 hours of direct light a day) in average soil. (They don’t like it too rich.) In the eastern two-thirds of the country and the Pacific Northwest, you can probably get away without ever watering these plants – although they do look best if they get a little help when it turns dry in late summer and early autumn. In the western third of the country, sedums perform well with minimal water and make a good choice for water wise gardens.

Wherever you live, these perennials are worth adding to your garden. And when your neighbors’ yards are fading as summer ends and fall enters the scene, your garden will still be bursting with color, making your landscape truly standout!