Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Too Good To Be True

This is the time of the year when Sedum is coming into it's own.

It takes so little care I sometimes forget about the beauty and benefits. They look as if they could be from the desert or other-worldly. Perhaps a few tiny prehistoric animal dolls in front would look right.

Sedum is from the Stonecrop genus of the Crassulaceae and represent about 400 species of leaf succulents. The leaves are water-storing. This helps them be drought tolerant. When used as garden plants, it's important to know if they are cold hardy, heat hardy and will thrive in your soil. All this should be listed on the tag or in the description.

The small leafed/flowered sedums are often used for pot landscaping; those little vistas with miniature furniture or fairy gardens.

Some bloom in the spring, others in the fall. Some are very low growing and dainty while others get several feet tall and some will then flop. The fall flowering sedums are one of the last of the autumn colors and should be planted where they will fill in around other annuals and perennials that have finished their show.

Each year, new varieties are introduced. My newest large leafed sedum (above) is called "Crazy Ruffles". I got this plant at Sharon Manthe's "Tippy Pines Nursery" (located out North East Street in Kewanee, past the old Illinois Power office. Sharon specializes in annuals.) Crazy Ruffles is going crazy with all this rain. A blue that is edged in pink.

Some stonecrops have been used as food for salads and herbs, others have been used for herbal medicines - which I strongly discourage as some can cause very severe reactions.

In Germany, sedum is often used to provide roof covering on green or natural roofs. When plants such as sedum are used for green roofing, it is called an "extensive roof" meaning little or no maintenance once established.

A very interesting web site has Michigan State University's Green Roof Research Project facts and pictures.

For me, I'm using my sedum as edging, pot scapes, and autumn color. Plant in the spring and walk away. Year-after-year it returns to shower my garden with it's beauty and entice bees from afar. Certain sedums are host plants for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species.

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