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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Time to cut the Sedum

Many things were worked upon in the garden today. After an early supper, I decided to spend my last few hours of daylight cutting some of the Sedum.

Now you might have grown Sedum for many years and never cut them back. There was a time I did not cut my Sedum either and some years I still just never get to them. I began to cut them when I only grew 'Autumn Joy' (or 'Herbstfreude' or 'Indian Chief'?) .

You see, that variety of Sedum was a flopper, it often opened in the middle of the clump and just looked awful as it sprawled there in the garden. I was told that if I pinched it back it would bloom lower and not flop open.

The next time I cut a Sedum back was with the variety Sedum aizoon 'Lemon Snowflakes'. That's an earlier blooming Sedum and I was trying to get it to bloom later in the season. It worked and it did bloom later.

What ever the reason, here's what I do with many of my Sedum. First I cut them back with a regular pair of household scissors. I find these kind of scissors easier than my trusty Felco clippers for this job.

At the last minute I decided not to bother wearing the gloves as there was little chance to cut myself with these old scissors.

Since my gardens are quite large, I just can't stand the thought of throwing away all this luscious plant material. In fact, the way I originally got this Sedum was by taking home old shriveled cuttings from a nearby perennial farm (yes, I had permission).

Here you can see that I strip off the lower leaves. You can cut them or use your thumb nail, I use my hands.

Gathering up 5 or 7 stems (odd numbers suit me), I take my cuttings to the pots I've filled with a nice loose seed starting mix.

You can also use plain sterile play box sand instead of the potting mix. Or, you can put your stems in a glass jar filled with water and wait until you see the roots. In my case, this method has worked fine in the past and so it's what I stick with.

The Sedum stems are rigid enough that I can poke them right into the soil (which was not tamped down firmly).

In the top right corner you can see a yellow variegated Sedum that I picked up years ago at a farm stand. It's ready for cutting too so snip, snip, off we go.

There's a curly gray Sedum in this photo, another that I don't have a name at hand but it too takes well from cuttings. I don't always cut it back though, it already is a sprawler which is part of it's charm.

How do you like my new Sedum in the round bowl planter? I found that pot on this property when we moved in and it's lasted outside through our winters for twelve years now. Wish I could find more of these beauties.

This entire row of Sedum telephaeum 'Ruprectii' was made by cuttings. A friend gave me a piece of this plant 11 years ago. I didn't even bother to pot up the cuttings, I just stuck them along the edge and soon had an amazing border.

They're not ready yet to be cut this year. When the time comes I need to devote a whole day to the task, it takes a good few hours to cut this row back and then I have to decide what to do with all those cuttings.

This is the hard part of cutting your Sedum. What was just a lush, beautiful clump looks like toast for a couple of weeks. This is not something you want to do the day before the garden club comes to tour your garden.

Another tip is not to take your cuttings in the morning when you are expecting a hot sunny day or a series of hot dry days. We had a nice rain fall this afternoon and our temperatures dropped quickly. Our forecast for the next number of days is for cooler than average weather with clouds and possible scattered showers. Perfect weather to keep these newly cut plants from going into shock.

Well, the light is getting low but before I came in to wrap things up for the evening I had to tuck in my new little babies. They will spend the next 3 days in a kiddie pool with lots of nice water to encourage them to push roots.

Once I think they are growing nicely, I can plant them out into the garden. I'm dreaming of a really great knot garden design to do with these beauties.

This post will have to cover me for all of Monday as I'm due up at the school at 6:30 a.m. to chaperone a trip. Tuesday is our school board elections so I'm not guaranteeing any earth shattering posts in the next few days.



My LIttle Family: said...

I love your pots with single specimens. There is just something about the simplicity of a single succulent in an appropriate pot that is stunning. Vickie

Debbie said...

Melanie, your collection of Sedum is very impressive. Your garden must be huge.

Thanks for sharing the tip on cutting back the sedum. I know I had heard of this before, but have not tried it myself. Maybe this will be the year.

Cinj said...

Wonderful sedum. I have a couple that I need to cut back soon, so I guess I'll end up with a bunch of nice, new plants to bring here without having to do a ton of digging. I have dragon's blood up the wazoo over there. I'm not sure though, they tend to spread a bit crazily.

Gail said...


I have admired your sedums since I started reading your blog! In the last few years these easy to love perennials have won my heart. Thanks for a great post and simple instructions on propagating these beauties.


cindee said...

Wow that is a lot of little starts you have now!!! I need to do some clipping too!!!(-: You are very motivating(-: Have fun on your field trip!!!

Bek said...

A great post! How old does the sedum have to be to be cut? I planted mine just last year and don't want to cut it too early.
I definitely will try this one day since I am still in need for lots of plants.

kathi~lavender, lace and thyme said...

Hi Melanie, my sedum collection is only a few years old, I have two different varieties so thank you so much for the wonderful tips today. I hope you have a wonderful time on your field trip :).

Kim said...

I have the same round pot that former owners left here. How ridiculous is that?

Melanie said...

Vickie, I have a friend who plants many of her pots with single cultivars and they look so elegant. I keep trying to remember to do this here.

Debbie, thank you, it really is so easy it's hard to believe.

Cinj, you should definitely bring yourself home some cuttings!

Gail, thanks, I hoped the photos made it easier to get the message across.

Cindee, the field trip was great! Glad to be motivating :-)

Bek, I've done this with new arrivals in my garden because they are leggy. If you are not sure, try cutting only every other stem. This way you'll have some to start new plants with but some still on the original plant.

Kathi, now you need to find somebody who has different sedum and trade with them. That's how I got many of my varieties to begin with.

Kim, that's too funny about the pot. I wish I knew where it came from as it has never cracked in the winter time.

WiseAcre said...

I was jsut thinking of this the other day - here I am buying pots of Sedum to plant when all I need to do is take cuttings. Good tip too about cutting back the uprights that tend to get floppy.

I can't think of an easier plant to start from cuttings. Cut - strip - and shove them into the ground. If you're lazy just frop them on the ground and you'll be surprised how many will take hold.

Be carefull though or you'll have enough Sedum to cover acres before you know it :)

kate smudges said...

That is a good tip - I have a flopper and it drives me crazy. I'm always amazed at how hardy Sedum is...

RainGardener said...

Earlier I asked if you had lots of sempervivums and I see you do and lots of Sedums. I'm doing them also. That curly gray one you mentioned looks like one I have called October Plant which I just love. My newest is Linda Windsor. I love this place guess I'd best mark it so I can come back.

Marilyn said...

I have enjoyed recreating my gardens here in Texas but still sad to leave Pennsylvania gardening behind...traded it for being with grandsons here where gardening can be quite different. Having planted a flowering sedum for the first time I was surprised when it went from beautiful green to hiding all that with yellow flowers... should I cut it back as the flowers wither or what? I'm stumped as how to take care of it now as it was spreading and so green last year, the same year I planted it. Thanks for your advice ..much needed here.

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