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Stonecrop Plants: 'Autumn Joy' Sedum

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"Autumn Joy" sedum will give your perennial beds a "Southwestern" look.

Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden

Taxonomy of Autumn Joy Sedum:

Here's how plant taxonomy breaks down Autumn Joy sedums. The genus is Sedum and the cultivar is 'Autumn Joy.' Although in the past many authors have included a specific epithet, Armitage does not, and I will accept his authority. Sedums are referred to by the common name, "stonecrop" plants, although "sedum" itself is so widely used as to be virtually a common name.

Plant Type:

Autumn Joy sedum plants are herbaceous perennials.

Characteristics:

While these clump-forming stonecrop plants (roughly 2 feet by 2 feet) are noted for their succulent foliage, Autumn Joy sedum bears an unusual flower well worth growing in its own right. Flowers are massed together in heads that are 3" or more across. Autumn Joy sedum's flowers can be yellow, orange, red, or pink and appear in late summer-early fall. The leaves, which grow in whorls, are sometimes variegated and range in color from bluish-green or greenish-yellow to reddish-pink or almost off-white.

Planting Zones:

Autumn Joy sedum can be grown in planting zones 3-9.

Sun and Soil Requirements for Autumn Joy Sedum:

Grow these stonecrop plants in full sun to partial shade and in well-drained soil. Autumn Joy sedum is a drought-tolerant perennial once established.

Uses for Autumn Joy Sedum in Landscape Design:

This perennial is used in border plantings and in rock gardens. Its relatively late blooming period -- the source of this cultivar's name -- is useful for those trying to achieve four-season interest in their yards.

Wildlife and Autumn Joy Sedum:

You get to have your cake and eat it, too with stonecrop plants: they are plants that attract butterflies, but deer pests do not particularly like them. You can never say never with Bambi, but one is justified in placing them on a list of deer-resistant perennials.

Care -- Division:

Name Origin for "Sedum" or "Stonecrop" Plants:

"Stonecrop" is from the Middle English and literally means "sprouting from the stone," a reference to its commonly being seen growing amongst stones (which provide the drainage that stonecrop plants crave). "Stonecrop" doubles as the name of the family to which the genus, Sedum belongs.

"Sedum" itself derives from this same observation of where stonecrop plants tend to grow. It comes from the Latin, sedere, meaning "sit" -- as in "sitting" atop the stones.

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