June 17, 2009

Sedum Tips: Gardening in a Pinch

How do I keep the fall-blooming sedum in my garden from splaying open?

That was my question on a gardening forum. The answer was, of course, to pinch back the tips anytime in late May through July 4. That wasn't all the advice that I received from Carrie, another North Carolina gardener. Carrie suggested that I take the tips and just stick them in the soil to make new plants.

I posed the question about sedum maintenance as I had not grown the large-leaved sedum long enough to have experience - because the deer eat them! You wouldn't think a sedum would be on the deer menu, but they sure ate the 'Autumn Joy' that I tried a few years ago.

In September 2008, I planted three fall-blooming sedum in the protected and fenced cottage garden. I purchased 'Bekka', 'Green Expectations' and 'Purple Emperor' (top photo) from a local nursery where I could see the bloom colors to make sure they coordinated with my magenta, purple and blue color scheme.

I've used this "pinch and plant" method with delosperma cooperii (ice plant) quite successfully. It works especially well when the soil is wet from rain.

To be able to expand my sedum population with just routine maintenance pinching is great. Sedum can be quite expensive, so this is also an economical way to expand the garden.

Using my smallest hand pruners, I carefully cut off the full tips of the sedum. Most of the tips were 4-5 inches in length. I trimmed off the lower leaves to create enough stalk to plant the tip. After a few weeks of keeping the soil slightly moist, all of the tips are now firmly rooted as new plants.

I had almost too many tips to find space! When I started pruning off the tips, I hadn't stopped to think about how many new plants I would have. Making a quick decision, I planted the tips along the stepping stone and gravel paths in the cottage garden. I tried to mix them in with other edging plants, rather than creating a row of edging. I think the plants will be easy enough to move when I need to do some rearranging.

The "mother" plants look great as the tips are growing back quite nicely. I will have pretty, mounded plants for my fall blooms without any splaying.

With so many free plants, I may even try to grow a few sedum outside the fence again - in deer territory!

Story and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: Home Garden; June 2009
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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