SEDUM or STONECROP

Mostly easily grown perennials often flourishing where little else will grow, or in bone-dry pockets of soil. The rock garden species can nearly always be increased by detaching an odd shoot at almost any time of year and simply sticking into unprepared soil, in sun or shade. Some are admittedly invasive. There is much confusion about the naming of sedums but this may be unavoidable in view of the ease with which they increase on their own account, as even isolated leaves of some species will take roothold where they are knocked off and fall to the ground, rapidly making new plants.

Sedums are suitable for rockeries, crevices in paved paths, wall gardens and edgings to flower borders. Some species, e.g. the annual Sedum caeruleum, a pleasing light blue, may be grown on house-roofs. The following selection covers a wide colour range. Unless stated otherwise, a sunny position and dryish sharply-drained soil are desirable. S. aizoon: yellow flower heads about 2 in. across, borne on 1 ft. stems in June and July. A herbaceous species, I.e. the stems die back to soil level in winter.

S. album chloroticum (pallens): white flowers in summer. Height 3 in. S. album mm ale: soft pink and mahogany-red flowers in June and fleshy, coral-pink leaves. Does best in full sun and thin soil when the leaves colour better.

S. altissimum: taller than the foregoing, to about 9 in. Yellow flowers in June. Greenish-white, fleshy leaves.

S. caulicola: rosy-purple flowers and glaucous, greyish-green leaves in early autumn. Trailing habit. Dies down in winter.

S. maximum atropurpureum: this species is suitable for the herbaceous border as it reaches 18 in. The flat heads of deep pink flowers appear in late summer and are excellent for cutting. Leaves (often up to 5 in. long) and stems are red.

S. pulchellum: unlike most sedums, this is happier in a damp position. It grows to about 5 in. with purplish-pink flowers from June to September. The fleshy, bright green leaves turn red in summer.

S. rupestre: the typical yellow form of this species is virtually a weed but there is at least one less invasive form in which the leaves and shoots are reddish-purple. The habit is creeping and the height about 6 in. S. sempervivoides (sempervivum): a biennial species with foliage resembling a houseleek or sempervivum. The vivid crimson flowers appear in June or July on a 6—7 in. plant. Easily increased by seed. S. spathulifolium: possibly the most striking of all the sedums, though less free-flowering than many. The form purpureum has large mealy white leaves which turn scarlet in autumn. The yellow flowers appear in May and June. Height about 5 in.

S. spectabile: a useful plant for the front of a herbaceous border, growing to about 18 in. high and as much across when well established. The purplish-pink flowers appear in September but the variety Brilliant is more popular as the colour is a pleasing raspberry-red. Increase by division in spring.

S. spurium album: this bears heads of white flowers in July and August on creeping stems. The forms splendens and Schorbusser Blut are rose-crimson and glowing dark red respectively. Heights about 4 in.

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