Tall Sedum – A Pollinator’s Dream Plant

Time to take an in-depth look at tall sedum. Many homeowners and professionals alike call it Autumn Joy Sedum after the popular variety. While this variety does tend to stand out, there are many more varieties of Sedum spectabile (Tall Sedum).  While it is now classified at Hylotelephium spectabile, many nurseries and people will likely continue calling it sedum. Tall sedum is native to Europe and Asia, where it is often found growing on rocky outcrops. 

‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum covered with pollinators

In late summer months, tall sedum begins to bloom, attracting a plethora of pollinators and beneficials to its flowers. The nectar rich flowers are borne on large, flat flower heads which allow for resting of insects looking for a snack. There can be literally hundred of bees, butterflies, and others on each plant, and if you have several plants-sit back and enjoy the show. 

‘Neon’ Sedum has chartreuse leaves and hot pink flowers

Because tall sedum holds its leaves and flower so well, it is often used in dried floral arrangements or left in the garden for added winter interest. In late autumn, tall sedum drenched in frost has a magical quality that many appreciate. Tall sedum grows best in full sun to part shade and is considered very drought tolerant. It prefers well-drained soils but will survive many conditions except for wet areas. 

Gray hairstreak butterflies use sedum as a host plant for their caterpillars

The only drawback to tall sedum, as far as I know of, is its tendency to flop and fall when in lower light areas. This can be prevented by pinching back plants a couple of times before July 1st in the central Great Plains region. Cut or pinch stems back at least 4 inches each time. This will also prevent early blooming, which may be a factor in years where summer heat starts sooner and is followed by unseasonal cool in July or August. 

Monarch butterflies love sedum as a final destination stop on their trip south

There are many great varieties to choose from and they all have their place in a garden. 

‘Autumn Fire’ is a selection similar to ‘Autumn’ Joy’ but with better color (deep pink to reddish) and stems

Honeybees on sedum ‘Thundercloud’

‘Thundercloud’ has daintier leaves and white flowers

‘Autumn Charm’ has variegated green and white leaves with pale pink flowers

‘Matrona’ has purple stems and purplish-green leaves with pink flowers

‘Neon’ has bright, chartreuse leaves and neon pink flowers

Common buckeye is just one of many butterflies to utilize the nectar resources of tall sedum

Happy Planting!

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