When we think of fall flowers, we usually think of mums and asters. Beautiful flowers, but they have a short bloom time, and once they are done blooming, the show is over. And many mums and asters are annuals, meaning they will die completely in winter and you will have to replant them next year.
A Three-Season Show
This is why Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is such a rewarding addition to any fall flower garden. For starters, it’s a perennial (in hardiness zones 3-9), meaning it will return for a repeat performance year after year.
It blooms in late summer, starting with pink flowers on bright green succulent stems. It attracts bees and butterflies. As the season progresses, the flower color intensifies into a deep copper by fall.
But the show does not end there. The flowers will fade into russet colored seed pods that add interest to the winter garden and attract birds.
‘Autumn Joy’ looks striking when used as a specimen plant or in borders. With its long season interest and its beautiful succulent stems, it can be combined with summer-blooming annuals and then later with fall mums and asters. It also looks great with ornamental grasses.
Care and Feeding
‘Autumn Joy’ is pretty easy care. Most sedums prefer porous soil, but mine grow in a garden with fairly fertile, heavy soil. The soil is amended a couple of times a year. Other than that, I don’t fertilize the ‘Autumn Joy.’
It prefers full sun to part shade. My biggest and best ‘Autumn Joy’ plant gets late afternoon shade.
And although this plant can adjust to less-frequent watering, my biggest and best also gets consistent water throughout the summer months.
In late winter, once the seed heads start to look worn, I cut the plant down to the ground, being careful not to cut any new growth, and mulch over it a bit with a leaf mulch to protect it.
Once mature, this plant can get 24-plus inches tall, and with its heavy flower heads, it’s a good idea to cage the plant early in the season. Another way to keep it from getting leggy is by pinching back the stems in spring or early summer when the plant stems reach six inches in height, but before the plant starts producing flower buds. This will make the plant grow more bushy and compact.
This perennial has very few enemies. Slugs, snails and aphids aren’t particularly attracted to it.
Another great thing about ‘Autumn Joy’ is how easy it is to divide and propagate. Once the plant gets too large, you can divide the roots. Or, like with many sedum varieties, you can take cuttings and place them in moist soil to encourage root growth. This is best done in spring or early summer.
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