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Sedum spectabile

Sedum spectabile is a rewarding, easy-to-grow herbaceous perennial with succulent foliage, which originates from China and Korea.

Commonly known as ‘Ice plant’, this plant is tolerant of extreme cold and inclement winter weather conditions. This sedum will survive being covered in ice and snow for extended periods. The above-ground portion of the plant will disappear completely during winter.

In spring fresh new growth emerges from the root stock. The plant grows into a clump about 50 cm tall and equally as wide. The growth takes the form of stems on which lush, fleshy, grey-green leaves are arranged in opposite pairs.

During late summer and early autumn flat heads of tiny mauve to pink flowers appear at the top of each stem. The blooms attract myriads of insects, especially bees and butterflies. The spent flower spikes must be cut back to ground level in winter.

Growth requirements

Sedum spectabile grows best in rich, sandy, free draining soil in a full sun position. It is ideally suited to the colder, temperate regions of South Africa. But it will also grow in maritime conditions in the cooler parts of our country. It is not recommended for hot, humid sub-tropical climates.

Various named hybrids and cultivars of this versatile little plant are available in shades of pink and mauve. There is also a white variety. The preferred form on the local market is Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’ and is a fine garden plant.

Where to use Sedum spectabile

Use this sedum in herbaceous borders, rock gardens, pots, containers or massed plantings. When planting en masse, you can choose to use this plant either on its own or with soft textured grasses. It can also be used to fill up any holes and gaps that appear unexpectedly.

Planting this sedum among rocks and pebbles ensures that there will still be visual interest when the plant disappears during winter. It’s always fascinating to have plants in the garden that disappear and then reappear suddenly when you least expect them to.

Make the most of this charming little plant and its galaxies of star-shaped flowers will twinkle in your garden through summer and autumn.

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The Gardener