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Sedums-Fire-proof Plants

Sedums-Fire-proof Plants

By Dan Heims, president, Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.
Photographs courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.

G’day campers. Dang it is hot outside! With temperatures rising, so come water conservation mandates in dried and fried areas of the U.S. On every fire-proof list in these regions you will find sedums. These drought-tolerant plants are quite the trifecta: A hardy succulent, a late summer bloomer, and an amazing pollinator plant. Foliage can be pewter grey, aqua blue, purple, or a red-chocolate brown. Flowers appear in sprays of magenta, pink, white or yellow. Being a late season bloomer, sedums play a significant role in the pollinator network with nectar-laden flowers that swarm with honeybees and other pollinators.

The needs are simple: Drainage, average to sandy garden soil, and watering during the first season. Once established, they will continue to increase in width and effect and be quite drought tolerant. While some species are quite low to the ground, Terra Nova’s breeders have selected plants that reach a height of seven to twelve inches in a tight mound and come fall blast up to twenty inches or more with masses of flowers. Combine with ray-disk plants like echinacea or a shorter aster and provide a background of a well-mannered grass like schizachrium or helictotrichon. It is a killer combo!

Let us have a peek at some of the absolute best.

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Sedum 'Birthday Party'

You do not want your birthday party to flop, nor do you want this to happen to your sedums! This outstanding sedum from our hardy breeding will dazzle you in late summer or early fall with its huge, deep rose-pink flower heads atop solid, compact foliage that does not fall apart. The succulent leaves are deliciously tinted purple-maroon, which provides color before the blooms light up the garden. While the mound is compact, it will rise to twenty inches in height before it blooms. Happiest in full sun, it will reward users from USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 to 9 with flowers from August to September. Beautiful en-masse or in the mixed border. When working up combos look to mix with echinacea or mid-height grasses like fescue or helictotrichon.

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Sedum ‘Crystal Pink’

The iciest pink heads you will ever see! Large heads of the softest pink on shorter stems make an impressive combination with blue-leaved grasses or echinaceas. In full sun it does not fall apart like Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’. An excellent attractor of pollinating insects and butterflies. Use in mixed beds and mass plantings. Full bloom starts in July and will continue until September. Hardy from zones 4 to 9. The foliage height is twelve inches high by sixteen inches wide. Flowers reach sixteen inches tall and are great as a cut. They prefer a full sun exposure.

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Sedum 'Class Act'

What is classier than winning a Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit? Not much! This plant did exactly that against more than fifty other upright sedums by impressing the judges with its compact, upright habit and full heads of the most stunning rose-pink flowers. A winner in the garden and in the beds! This gem is hardy from zones 4 to 9. The foliage height is sixteen inches high by fourteen inches wide. Flowers reach eighteen inches tall and are useful as a cut flower. They prefer a full sun exposure and are happy in lean to compost-enriched soil.

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Sedum 'Touchdown Teak'

Wowsers! What a different looking sedum. Not your mother’s frowning tuffet of leaves with naked legs, this is one of Dan’s favorites and rises to the occasion. Amazing glossy red-brown to purple-brown leaves, red stems, and a vigorous, upright-but low habit. Rose-red flowers are a summer feature. A favorite in our garden! While the mound is upright, it will rise to nineteen inches in height before it blooms. Charming and useful in containers, edges and in mass. Happiest in full sun, it will reward users from zones 4 to 9 with flowers emerging from August to September when few other plants are in bloom.

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Sedum 'Mr. Goodbud'

Pardon the name, man, but this Sedum spectabile hybrid really delivers! It has tight foliage and strongly contrasting colors between its light buds and dark mauve flowers. This has richer tones and better foliage than the old standard, Sedum 'Brilliant'. Upright habit and short stature. Won an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS in 2006. Happiest in full sun, it will reward users from zones 4 to 9 with flowers from August through September. The foliage height is fifteen inches high by seventeen inches wide. We planted a border of ‘Mr. Goodbud’ in our display garden and it merged like a soft hedge.

Dan Heims is an award-winning author who lectures throughout the world. He was recently honored by the American Horticultural Society with the Luther Burbank Breeding Award, as well as the Perennial Plant Association’s Award of Merit. He was honored by receiving the Royal Horticultural Society’s Reginald Cory Cup for advancements in breeding.

You may contact Dan at [email protected].

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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