Ask the master gardeners
Q: I like the idea of gardening, but then I get busy with other things. Are there plants that don’t mind being neglected?
A: Sedums are just the plants for you. They are tough. They grow in USDA Zones 3 to 10. They are succulents, so they grow in poor soil with very little water. They require little deadheading. Some bloom in the fall, some in the spring. Some are tall, some are short. When not in flower their foliage is incredibly interesting. They are a great choice for someone who has the desire, but not the time, for a beautiful garden.
Sedums (Crassulaceae), are extremely forgiving of the negligent gardener. I once unknowingly dropped a sedum on its side while moving plants around and the next thing I knew it had taken root right where it had fallen. Being so adaptable, they only require full sun (some will tolerate partial shade) and well-drained soil.
One of the best aspects of sedum, also commonly known as stonecrop, is their variety of leaf color — ranging from blues and purples to reds and yellows. The short varieties, which usually bloom in the spring, make a wonderful groundcover, especially in rocky areas or next to driveways where other things won’t grow.
(TJN file photos)
The taller varieties, which are usually fall blooming, provide a lovely burst of color just when the rest of the garden is dying down. Even in winter, the seedheads left on the plants provide interest in the snow. Their solid sculptural shape makes them an ideal choice for cactus gardens as well as a herbaceous border or even an English cottage garden.
(Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’)
There are over 400 species of sedum from which to choose. And, to add to their appeal, they are inexpensive to grow. Just get a cutting from a friend or divide existing plants and you are good to go.
Judie Phillips, master gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Westchester