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How To Grow Tall Sedum

By: Sherri Ribbey
Consider adding a few tall sedum to your garden for beautiful late-season flowers — it’s an easy-care perennial that shines from summer into fall. Pollinators will appreciate them, too!

Group of three types of sedum in a garden bed in different shades of pink: Tall sedum flowers come in shades of pink, burgundy and white.

Tall sedum is a low-maintenance garden staple

There aren’t many perennials as hard-working as tall sedum. Plant a few and you’ll discover what great performers they are in spring, summer, fall and even winter without much maintenance. The succulent-like foliage of tall sedum (Hylotylephium spp and hybrids) can be green, chartreuse, variegated, or shades of burgundy, topped with pink, burgundy, white or chartreuse-yellow blooms that often age to shades of russet reds and browns — pretty in all seasons!

Let’s take a look at the seasonal interest tall sedum can provide, then scroll down to the gallery to learn about some additional tall sedum cultivars you may want to audition in your own garden.

tall sedum with roses and smokebush in a garden border: Companions with a long season of interest, such as smokebush and shrub roses, make a great supporting cast for tall sedum.

Late-season interest

Late summer to fall brings out tall sedum’s flat-topped flowers that are the perfect landing pad for hungry bees and butterflies. The specimen in the photo above gets top billing in this unforgettable autumn vignette along with smokebush (Cotinus hybrid) and shrub rose (Rosa hybrid). Its late-season foliage looks almost luminescent in the fall light. Dark russet-red flowers stand out better with the lighter green foliage supporting them. Too much dark green and they’d be lost. As fall turns to winter the foliage drops, but the stems stay standing until the following spring even with a layer of snow.

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Tall sedum and black-eyed-susan in a garden border: Tightly packed clusters of these tall sedum flowers-in-waiting create an interesting texture in the garden.

Summer interest

Summer is when tall sedum flowers get started. The ‘Autumn Joy’ (‘Herbstfreude’) in the photo above has green buds just starting to flush rosy pink and will later age to coppery red. Green flower buds may not sound exciting, but that quiet color allows the yellow black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida) nearby to take center stage.

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tall sedum with columbine in foreground: As tall sedum grows it will fill the space, so if this columbine goes dormant in a dry summer, there’s not an empty spot.

Spring interest

Spring seems like an unusual time for tall sedum, but new stems have a charming rosettelike form that’s a nice companion for early spring bloomers. Variegated Autumn Charm™ (‘Lajos’) in the photo above is a little further along. Its creamy-edged foliage echoes the pale yellow of this petite columbine (Aquilegia hybrid).

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Fencing tall sedum to keep from flopping: Fence in tall sedum to keep it upright. Cut a piece of fence a little shorter than the mature height of the plant and secure the cage together with zip ties.

How to grow tall sedum

It’s not hard to care for tall sedum. In fact, sometimes you’ll see one growing happily in a neglected garden without any help. But with a little care tall sedum can go from surviving to thriving. Let’s start with some basics.

Ideal growing conditions for tall sedum

Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 10, tall sedum grows best in full sun — six hours or more — especially the dark-foliaged cultivars. The more sun these types have, the darker their leaf color. Without it, they look green-purple. There are a few cultivars like 'Autumn Charm' that can tolerate light shade.

Well-drained soil works best for tall sedum. They’re flexible about soil pH, but if it’s on the alkaline side, even better. No need for much fertilizer, either. An annual side-dressing of compost is usually plenty.

Tall sedum is drought-tolerant, too!

Tall sedum is so drought tolerant you don’t have to worry about watering. In fact, too much water causes them to rot. They’re a great choice for those places far from the spigot. If you use organic mulch in your beds, keep it pulled away from the crown 3 to 4 inches to avoid moisture buildup that causes rot. Pea gravel and stone mulch are good alternatives.

tall-sedum-cutting-back-inset-of-broken-stem-with-leaves: Cut back dead stems to 1 to 2 inches tall in early spring. If a stem comes off with a few leaves attached, you can plant or pot it up!

How to clean up tall sedum in spring

Start the growing season off right by cutting back the dead tall sedum stems in early spring, as in the photo above. It’s not critical to cut them any certain height, but keeping stems as short as possible lets you appreciate the new spring growth when it starts.

If a stem comes off with a few leaves attached like you see in the inset photo above, plant or pot it right away and you’ll have a new addition to the garden.

tall-sedum-splitting-in-spring: Split plants With a shovel or soil knife and cut the rootball into whatever size division suits your needs.

Divide tall sedum in spring

Spring is also the time for dividing tall sedum. It’s easier to do at this time of year — you don’t have to worry about breaking off stems or leaves. Use a shovel to dig around the plant and lift the dense rootball out of the ground. Then, split plants with a shovel or soil knife, and cut the rootball into whatever size division suits your needs. After dividing, simply replant tall sedum divisions at the same depth they were growing before division.

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Cutting back tall sedum by one third to help keep upright: Cutting tall sedum back by a third keeps them from flopping and encourages more branches, which produce more flowers.

Keep tall sedum upright

As temperatures warm, tall sedum takes off, getting taller and forming flowers. Tall sedum will grow 9 to 36 in. tall, 12 to 24 in. wide, depending on the variety. Unfortunately, some cultivars — ‘Matrona’ is notorious for this — flop open. What’s the solution to splayed sedum? Stake or cut plants back. Both are done in spring.

Cut back tall sedum to prevent flopping

Another way to prevent flopping is to cut tall sedum stems back by up to half any time from spring to early summer. Flowers will be smaller, more numerous and later. I cut the ‘Matrona’ in the photo above back by a third with a pair of pruners, but scissors would work, too. Try to cut back stems at a leaf joint. Two new stems form that will flower later.

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Find a tall sedum for your garden

Use these tips to help your tall sedum give you encore performances season after season. With all the variety in tall sedums available, you might think there would be different care requirements. Fortunately, that’s not the case. They all do well with the same simple care. Check out the gallery below to meet a few more tall sedums great for dressing up your borders all year.

'Autumn Joy' sedum (Hylotylephium 'Herbstfreude')

'Autumn Joy' rounded flower clusters are a huge favorite of butterflies, bees and other pollinators out and about in late summer to fall. Its pink blossoms turn rusty red by frost, drying a russet brown. Leave the dried flower stems until spring for a touch of winter interest.

Type Perennial Blooms Dusky pink flowers age to rusty red in late summer to fall Light Full sun Size 18 to 24 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

'Maestro' tall sedum (Hylotelephium hybrid)

See what a nice backdrop 'Maestro' tall sedum makes for ‘Sienna Sunset’ coreopsis (Coreopsis hybrid) in the photo above? Taking turns in the spotlight, 'Maestro's foliage is blue-green in spring. Its coreopsis companion begins to bloom in early summer, and when it’s done, shear plants back by a third. By then, this sedum's foliage will have aged to burgundy and it will be in full bloom.

Type Perennial Blooms Pink flowers bloom on burgundy foliage in late summer Light Full sun to part shade Size 24 to 30 in. tall and 20 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

Autumn Charm sedum (Hylotelephium 'Lajos' )

The creamy white edges of its leaves make Autumn Charm eye-catching even when not in bloom. Then its blooms form and striking white buds match the white color until they open pink, aging to brick red.

Type Perennial Blooms White flower buds open pink in late summer, then age to brick red by fall Light Full sun Size 12 to 18 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

‘Hot Stuff’ tall sedum (Sedum spectabile)

Create a berm so you can enjoy the flowers of this short sedum better. It tilts plants just enough so you see the blooms instead of stems. ‘Hot Stuff’ shrugs off the reflected heat along a driveway or sidewalk with ease, so it’s a perfect edging plant, too. However, the flowers do draw a lot of bees, so you may not choose it for high traffic areas if that’s a concern. Petite cultivars like this are also great in containers in hot spots where other plants may suffer.

Type Perennial Blooms Pink flowers bloom in late summer Light Full sun to part shade Size 10 to 12 in. tall and 12 to 15 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 10

'Cherry Truffle' sedum (Hylotelephium telephium)

The foliage of 'Cherry Truffle' sets it apart from other tall sedums — it emerges deep burgundy and becomes dark purple, almost black, with the heat of the summer sun. It is best planted in full sun for the best color. Very drought tolerant, it makes a striking addition to containers in hot, dry spots in the garden.

Type Perennial Blooms Pink flowers bloom in late summer to early fall Light Full sun Size 12 to 16 in. tall and 18 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

'Mr. Goodbud' tall sedum (Hylotylephium hybrid)

Compact 'Mr. Goodbud' has brilliant purplish-pink flowers in late summer, a nice contrast to other tall sedums with their dusty pink blooms. Its foliage is medium green, with a blush of burgundy on the stems. The dense flower clusters make this cultivar ideal in mass plantings.

Type Perennial Blooms Purple-pink flowers in late summer Light Full sun Size 16 to 18 in. tall and 18 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Rock ’N Grow® ‘Lemonjade’ tall sedum (Hylotelephium hybrid)

For a really unusual flower color, check out Rock ’N Grow ‘Lemonjade’ with 5- to 7-inch pale yellow flowerheads. Cold weather brings change for it's blooms — they get a rosy blush to end the season.

Type Perennial Blooms Pale yellow flowers age with a rose blush in late summer Light Full sun to part shade Size 16 to 18 in. tall and 26 to 28 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

‘T Rex’ tall sedum (Hylotelephium hybrid)

‘T Rex’ is known (and named) for the toothy edge to the leaves — you’ll notice it more in spring. Even though it grows tall and wide, the strong stems of ‘T Rex’ stay standing and don’t flop. No need to fence or cut back this cultivar.

Type Perennial Blooms Dark rose flowers lighten to dusty rose as they age in late summer Light Full sun to part shade Size 24 to 28 in. tall and 28 to 32 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 10

'Autumn Joy' sedum (Hylotylephium 'Herbstfreude')

'Autumn Joy' rounded flower clusters are a huge favorite of butterflies, bees and other pollinators out and about in late summer to fall. Its pink blossoms turn rusty red by frost, drying a russet brown. Leave the dried flower stems until spring for a touch of winter interest.

Type Perennial Blooms Dusky pink flowers age to rusty red in late summer to fall Light Full sun Size 18 to 24 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

'Cherry Truffle' sedum (Hylotelephium telephium)

The foliage of 'Cherry Truffle' sets it apart from other tall sedums — it emerges deep burgundy and becomes dark purple, almost black, with the heat of the summer sun. It is best planted in full sun for the best color. Very drought tolerant, it makes a striking addition to containers in hot, dry spots in the garden.

Type Perennial Blooms Pink flowers bloom in late summer to early fall Light Full sun Size 12 to 16 in. tall and 18 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

'Maestro' tall sedum (Hylotelephium hybrid)

See what a nice backdrop 'Maestro' tall sedum makes for ‘Sienna Sunset’ coreopsis (Coreopsis hybrid) in the photo above? Taking turns in the spotlight, 'Maestro's foliage is blue-green in spring. Its coreopsis companion begins to bloom in early summer, and when it’s done, shear plants back by a third. By then, this sedum's foliage will have aged to burgundy and it will be in full bloom.

Type Perennial Blooms Pink flowers bloom on burgundy foliage in late summer Light Full sun to part shade Size 24 to 30 in. tall and 20 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

'Mr. Goodbud' tall sedum (Hylotylephium hybrid)

Compact 'Mr. Goodbud' has brilliant purplish-pink flowers in late summer, a nice contrast to other tall sedums with their dusty pink blooms. Its foliage is medium green, with a blush of burgundy on the stems. The dense flower clusters make this cultivar ideal in mass plantings.

Type Perennial Blooms Purple-pink flowers in late summer Light Full sun Size 16 to 18 in. tall and 18 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Autumn Charm sedum (Hylotelephium 'Lajos' )

The creamy white edges of its leaves make Autumn Charm eye-catching even when not in bloom. Then its blooms form and striking white buds match the white color until they open pink, aging to brick red.

Type Perennial Blooms White flower buds open pink in late summer, then age to brick red by fall Light Full sun Size 12 to 18 in. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

Rock ’N Grow® ‘Lemonjade’ tall sedum (Hylotelephium hybrid)

For a really unusual flower color, check out Rock ’N Grow ‘Lemonjade’ with 5- to 7-inch pale yellow flowerheads. Cold weather brings change for it's blooms — they get a rosy blush to end the season.

Type Perennial Blooms Pale yellow flowers age with a rose blush in late summer Light Full sun to part shade Size 16 to 18 in. tall and 26 to 28 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

‘Hot Stuff’ tall sedum (Sedum spectabile)

Create a berm so you can enjoy the flowers of this short sedum better. It tilts plants just enough so you see the blooms instead of stems. ‘Hot Stuff’ shrugs off the reflected heat along a driveway or sidewalk with ease, so it’s a perfect edging plant, too. However, the flowers do draw a lot of bees, so you may not choose it for high traffic areas if that’s a concern. Petite cultivars like this are also great in containers in hot spots where other plants may suffer.

Type Perennial Blooms Pink flowers bloom in late summer Light Full sun to part shade Size 10 to 12 in. tall and 12 to 15 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 10

‘T Rex’ tall sedum (Hylotelephium hybrid)

‘T Rex’ is known (and named) for the toothy edge to the leaves — you’ll notice it more in spring. Even though it grows tall and wide, the strong stems of ‘T Rex’ stay standing and don’t flop. No need to fence or cut back this cultivar.

Type Perennial Blooms Dark rose flowers lighten to dusty rose as they age in late summer Light Full sun to part shade Size 24 to 28 in. tall and 28 to 32 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 10

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