Sedum 'Red Cauli', an upright form with red flowers

Sedum ‘Red Cauli’, an upright form with red flowers

To most people, the word Sedum means a succulent, upright perennial that blooms in late summer. There are also extremely short groundcover types of Sedum with tiny leaves, some rounded and some almost needle looking. About five years ago, a third type of Sedum began entering the marketplace. This type is short and has medium sized foliage.

Sedum 'Bertram Anderson' in container in front of my garage

Sedum ‘Bertram Anderson’ in container in front of my garage

Container with drought resistant plants: Helichrysum petiolatum ‘Lime”, Schizachyrium, Gaura ‘Petite Pink’, Sedum ‘Vera Jameson’ on my front porch

Two cultivars of this third type already existed, ‘Bertram Anderson’ and ‘Vera Jameson’. ‘Bertram Anderson’ has purplish leaves while ‘Vera Jameson’ has bluish-gray leaves; both have pink flowers and a sprawling habit that is very useful in containers or at the front of a border.

The newer cultivars appear to be more compact. I have been trialing them since 2008. My friend Brent Horvath of Intrinsic Perennials in Chicago has developed ‘Soft Cloud’, ‘Thundercloud’, and ‘Pure Joy’ and I have been enjoying their presence in my garden.

Sedum 'Thundercloud'

Sedum ‘Thundercloud’

Sedum ‘Thundercloud’ looks like a cluster of white stars above a loose, low mound of serrated green foliage on elongated sprays, a very unusual form for Sedum. This year it started blooming at the end of July. In previous years, it has continued displaying its white flowers well into September.

Sedum 'Plum Perfection'

Sedum ‘Plum Perfection’

I received Sedum ‘Plum Perfection’ in 2009. Unlike many other purple-leafed cultivars, I have been delighted with this one, the foliage of which remains unmarred despite various weather extremes. The leaf color is not deep purple but seems like a gray-green with a purple tinge when sited next to a gray-leafed Helianthemum. However, when sited next to the pure green of Gladiolus or Phlox subulata foliage, it looks purple. The pink flowers bud on purple stems by the third week of July and are usually in full bloom by the third week of August.

Sedum 'Soft Cloud'

Sedum ‘Soft Cloud’

Sedum ‘Soft Cloud’ took its place in the garden in 2011. Like Sedum ‘Thundercloud’, it has serrated foliage but the leaves are much smaller. It also has clusters of white stars but the clusters are larger than those of ‘Thundercloud’. The clusters are borne on pale purple stems beginning in the third week of July and the flowers take on a slight lilac tinge by the end of the month.

Sedum 'Lime Zinger' in bud at foot of gladioli

Sedum ‘Lime Zinger’ in bud at foot of gladioli

I purchased Sedum ‘Lime Zinger’ last year from a mail order nursery. I was intrigued by the claim that the small, rounded green leaves would develop a pink edge. I’m still waiting for that edge to appear but the plant is appealing. It has a tight habit, buds near the end of July and blooms in August and September. The buds resemble pale pink balls with a medium pink star at the top; these buds open into pale pink clusters of starry florets.

Sedum 'Dazzleberry';

Sedum ‘Dazzleberry’;

This year, I received trial plants of Sedum ‘Dazzleberry’. This Sedum is more like ‘Bertram Anderson’ and ‘Vera Jameson’ than any of the others I’ve mentioned. It’s a low spreader but its habit is tighter than either of the two older cultivars. Its leaves are medium sized and purplish gray while the small clusters of flowers are bright pink. I’ve used it at the bottom of a south facing hill.

Many of these new cultivars are not yet available from our local growers so if reading about them intrigues you, go online and you will find a source.