Plant of the Season

Hylotelephium spectabile “Autumn Joy”

Plant of the Season is brought to you by Gayle Parkes, OGV sub-committee member. She also posts to OGV's Instagram - make sure you check back regularly for her latest post.

I have many different varieties of sedum in my garden from those that have tiny leaves to variegated leaves, cream flowering, hot pink flowering, I love them all, but the star of the moment is “Autumn Joy”.  She is squeezed between a bird bath and a water pot, in full sun, and if my plot was a little larger, I would plant many more of this very rewarding feature plant. But I’m not on my own there! I have just spent two full days at the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show and sedum “Autumn Joy” was prominent in many of the displays. It really is a very versatile and architecturally appealing good doer! Hands down it is one of my favourite plants.

Sedum “Autumn Joy”, which grows to 60cm-80cm in height, thrives in conditions that other plants might consider lacking. Once established, they are drought tolerant, the key being well-draining soil and plenty of sunshine. 

The thick juicy stems and toothed bluish/green fleshy leaves of this clump-forming herbaceous perennial start appearing from early spring and by early summer pink puffs of flower clusters adorn the tops of the stems.

Sedum “Autumn Joy” has an unusual flower resembling the heads of broccoli. The sweet rosettes change colour dramatically throughout the season starting out pale green in bud to soft baby pink then to deep pink through deep salmon-pink to dark coral-pink and finally, as autumn progresses into winter, coppery red and then gradually to a rich mahogany brown as they end their life cycle. Who could ask for more than that!!!

This succulent gem is a wonderful low water usage choice for borders, rockeries and containers. It looks particularly fabulous amongst grasses and is a favourite in cottage gardens. Sedum “Autumn Joy” is especially attractive to bees and butterflies as well as other pollinators that we encourage into our gardens. 

You can enhance your stock of this un-fussy beauty by dividing it in early spring or by stem cuttings. It can also grow from fleshy stems harvested in autumn and placed horizontally in a garden bed. In just a month or so, each leaf node will develop tiny roots. Each of these may be removed and planted for individual new plants. Clever.

At the end of winter I cut the dried stems to the ground and sit back, but not for long, to wait for the whole cycle to start over. It really is a star in the autumn garden. Ask a friend for some cuttings, or divide your clump and gift some to your neighbours. Win, win!

 Combines beautifully with grasses. Always reliable for late summer and autumn colour.