In the Garden:
Pacific Northwest
June, 2012
Regional Report

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At home in a rock garden, these stonecrops flower reliably each summer.

Grow Easy-Care Sedums

Sedums, also called stonecrop, come in a range of shapes and sizes, from tiny to tall. All have fleshy, thick leaves, and all are tolerant of our winter weather. Low-growing types such as golden stonecrop (Sedum acre) and white stonecrop (S. album) form moss-like mats, making great ground covers in dry, sunny locations. They're right at home in rock gardens, where they happily fill a small niche or scramble over rocks. The taller species, such as S. maximum with greenish flowers, S. telephium with red-purple flowers, and S. sieboldii with pink flowers and blue-green leaves are perfect accents for sunny borders or decorative pots.

Sedums thrive in almost any sunny site, as long as the soil drainage is good, so you don't need a green thumb or hours of spare time to grow them. They're drought tolerant and not picky about soil fertility or pH, so once you plant them, they'll thrive with minimal care. They're also easy to propagate, which makes them a definite favorite of mine.

Propagating With Ease
I have had excellent results propagating sedums by tip cuttings. All you need is a pair of pruning shears and a plastic tray or pot filled with a well-draining soil mix. I use equal parts of potting soil and sand. There's no need for rooting hormones and no need for plastic bags to increase humidity around the cuttings.

From the tip of the stems, snip stem sections with three or more leaves into pieces 3 to 4 inches long. Pull off the bottom two leaves of these sections and push the cuttings into moistened soil mix so that the exposed nodes (the points where the leaves join the stem) are below the surface of the mix. The new roots will emerge from the nodes. Water the cuttings and set them in a shady place. Check the soil mix often and water enough to keep the cuttings from drying out.

Checking for Roots
Sedums generally root in about three weeks. You can check by gently tugging on a cutting. If you feel resistance, it has roots on the other end. Six to eight weeks after starting, cuttings are ready for transplanting. I tip the cuttings out of the pot, gently pull them apart, and plant them directly into the garden.

Easiest Sedum
For gardeners new to sedums, I recommend starting with Sedum 'Ruby Glow'. It's easy to grow and widely available. The foliage is a silvery blue with reddish undertones, and in late summer it produces clusters of intensely pink-red flowers. 'Ruby Glow' grows to about 8 inches tall and is perfect as an edging plant for a perennial border.


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