Plant id – Autumn Joy sedum

(Question)

Hello, I just moved into a new cottage and don’t know very much about gardening. It has a lovely perennial garden and I want to make sure I take care of it properly. Could you please tell me what these plants are and how to care for them… Ie cut back in spring/ fall. Thanks! I have a bunch of pictures so I will copy this message and send it with each picture

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(Answer)

The plant in your photo looks like Sedum. It resembles a specific variety called Autumn Joy. All sedums are easy to grow, since they require very little care or attention. They tolerate full sun and poor soil. Sandy or gravelly soil works just fine. The sedum’s fleshy leaves give the plant the ability to survive long periods without irrigation or rainfall.

These plants form flower buds early in the summer but don’t bloom until fall. Sedum are quite popular because they add interest to the autumn garden. The pink flowers, which get darker as summer progresses, attract butterflies and bees and supposedly deer don’t particularly like to eat them. The flower heads still look attractive well into winter. Its easiest to cut back the dead growth in early spring before the new growth appears. If the plants become too large they can easily be divided and planted to increase your stock. This can be done in early spring as well.

A couple of things about Sedum. Their root system is pretty shallow, hence they do not like competition from weeds.  But generally speaking they are pretty versatile.  Sedum rarely show signs of pests and diseases but they are not completely immune.  Aphids may suck the sap from the leaves. Keep an eye out for foliage that turns yellow or brown. Insecticidal soap may get rid of the bugs. The most common disease is botrytis blight, which appears as a grey mold and causes the leaves and flowers to turn brown, die and drop off. Ensure your plant has good circulation around it to avoid this problem. If there is high rainfall followed by freezing temperatures Sedum plants can go all mushy and rot.

Hopefully you will get many years of enjoyment from your cottage garden without having to do too much work.

For further reading see:

https://ucanr.edu/sites/scmg/Plant_of_the_Month/Sedum_telephium_Autumn_Joy/