How To Grow And Care For Sedum

This perennial, cold-hardy succulent is a delight in the garden.


Southern Living/Adrienne Legault

Some plants stand the test of time. Sedum 'Autumn Joy' stonecrop is one Southerns count on for weeks of blooms in late summer and fall every single year. This cold-hardy succulent, or stonecrop, originated from China and Korea. During the growing season, it stores water inside thick, light green leaves. This means it's quite tolerant of drought and seldom needs watering. It also has few pests other than deer (which can be solved by applying deer repellent). 'Autumn Joy' grows into a tidy mound about 1 to 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Flattened clusters of tiny, light pink flowers appear in late summer. As they age, they deepen in color to copper and finally to rust. Butterflies, particularly cloudless sulfurs, find them irresistible. Stonecrop attracts bees as well.

Plant Attributes

Common Name Autumn Joy, Autumn Joy stonecrop, stonecrop, sedum
Botanical Name Sedum telephium ‘Autumn Joy’
Family Crassulaceae
Plant Type Perennial, Herbaceous
Mature Size  18-24 in. tall, wide 
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Sandy, Well-drained
Soil pH Choose from acidic, neutral, alkaline
Bloom Time Summer, fall
Flower Color Red, pink
Hardiness Zones  Zones 6-10 (USDA)
Native Area  Asia

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Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ Care

Adapted to Zones 6 to 10 (USDA), this is one easy plant to grow. Just give it well-drained soil and full sun or light afternoon shade. The plants will grow weak and floppy in too much shade or rich soil. Skip the fertilizers and add a little compost if needed. 

You can grow 'Autumn Joy' in a mixed border with perennials that bloom around the same time, such as salvia, black-eyed Susan, Russian sage, goldenrod, asters, blue mist Caryopteris, and wild ageratum. Or, grow this clumping plant in a rock garden with prairie flowers, fall-blooming grasses, and other succulents. 'Autumn Joy' can rot in soggy soil, but plants appreciate regular watering in containers or during hot, dry spells.

If your area has cold winters, the foliage will die back each winter and reappear in the spring. Cut stems last a long time in water and also dry well. Or, you can leave the dried seed heads in the garden for songbirds and for winter interest.


Southern Living/Adrienne Legault


This plant will grow best in full sun, or at least six hours a day. If the plant gets too much water or too little sun, the blooms will be weak and the stems can become leggy. In the hotter planting zones, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ will need a little light shade in the afternoon.


Sedum is a succulent so it will always prefer a dry, loose soil like sand that drains well. It does not grow well in conditions that are wet and heavy.


This plant is relatively drought-tolerant, requiring only light watering twice a month. If left to sit in water or if the plant receives too much water or if the soil is too dense, it will grow poorly.

Temperature and Humidity

Sedum grows well all over the United States in many different climates, but there’s no doubt that it thrives in heat, looking great until hard frost forces it to die back. That’s what makes it such a great plant in Southern gardens. Humidity will only be a problem if it keeps the soil from drying out.


Fertilizer is typically not needed.


Southern Living/Adrienne Legault

Types of Sedum

Sedum Acre grows in Zones 6-9 (USDA) in US, MS, LS, and CS. This plant is native to Europe, North Africa, and Turkey and grows to 25 inches tall with upright branchlets rising from railing, rooting stems. Light green leaves only 14 inches long; clustered yellow flowers in spring. This old favorite is extremely hardy but can get out of bounds and become a weed. Use as ground cover (set plants 11-12 feet apart), between stepping stones, or in chinks of dry walls.

Sedum Album originated in Europe, Siberia, western Asia, and North Africa where creeping plants grow to 26 inches tall with long leaves. In summer, it blooms white or pinkish flowers. Set plants 11-12 feet apart as a groundcover. This species will root from the smallest fragment, so be aware if planting it near delicate rock garden plants.

Sedum Anglicum grows in Zones 6-9 (USDA) in US, MS, LS, and CS. Native to western Europe, this low, spreading plant grows 24 inches tall with dark green leaves. In the spring, expect pinkish or white flowers. When planting as a ground cover, plant 9-12 inches apart.

Sedum Brevifolium grows in Zones 6-9 (USDA) in US, MS, LS, and CS. Native to the Mediterranean region, this variety reaches 2-3 inches tall and slowly spreads to 12 inches wide. This plant has tiny gray to red-flushed leaves on tightly packed stems. In summer, expect to see white or pinkish flowers. This variety needs acidic soil that drains well. Mix this variety with larger succulents in containers, rock gardens, or miniature gardens. Sunburns in hot, dry places.

Sedum Cauticola grows in Zones 6-9 (USDA) in US, MS, LS, and CS. The variety is a Japan native that slowly forms a low mound. With blue-gray leaves and clusters of rose-red flowers in late summer or early fall. Dies back in winter.

Sedum Confusum grows in Zones 7-9 (USDA) in MS, LS, and CS. Native to Mexico, this spreading, branching plant grows 6-18 inches tall and wide and makes a good ground cover. Goo for borders or containers or as an edging plant. A similar, smaller plant with light green leaves is the closely related Sedum kimnachii.

Sedum Dasyphyllum grows in Zones 6-9 (USDA) in US, MS, LS, and CS. Native to the Mediterranean, it forms a low, spreading mat. With gray-green foliage and summer blooms of white flowers with pink streaks, this variety prefers partial shade.

Sedum Dendroideum grows in Zones 9-11 (USDA) in CS and TS. Native to Mexico, this branching plant grows to 3 feet tall and wide with rounded leaves. It has deep yellow flowers in spring and summer.

Sedum Erythrostictum 'Frosty Morn’ can be found in Zones 6-9 (USDA) in US, MS, LS, and CS. It resembles Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ but the light blue-green leaves are boldly outlined in a creamy white. This sedum blooms in late summer, bearing large clusters of flowers that are white in hot climates and pale pink in cooler climates.

Sedum Forsterianum is a native plant to western Europe, specifically the British Isles. It grows to 8 inches high and 10 inches wide with rounded rosettes of blue-green, needlelike leaves with yellow flowers. It tolerates heat, humidity, and poor soil. Plant it in Zones 6-9 (USDA) In US, LS, And CS.


Pruning is typically not needed for Sedum ‘Autumn Joy.’

Propagating Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Follow these steps to propagate ‘Autumn Joy’ for your garden.

  1. Cut a stem about 6 inches long and remove the bottom leaves.
  2. Fill a small pot with soilless potting mix. 
  3. Add the stem cutting to the mix and keep the mix evenly moist.
  4. When roots start to grow, transplant to the garden.

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No protection is needed, even in cold climates. This perennial will die back and return again in the spring.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Sometimes an infestation of leaf-sucking aphids⁠ can disfigure the leaves—spray them with a strong stream of water from the hose or with neem oil or insecticidal soap, making certain to hit both sides of every leaf.

How to Get Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ to Bloom

The recipe for good blooms is a pretty simple one: Sedum wants full sun, or at least six hours of light on most days. Make sure the soil drains well and remains mostly dry. And that’s it. Avoid shade and excessive moisture and your sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ will bring shape, color, and pollinators to any Southern garden. 


Southern Living/Adrienne Legault

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