One of the staples of the fall garden, red-headed Sedum (Sedum), also known as Stonecrop, should be pinched back now to ensure a robust fall display. Sedum rises on 24-inch tall fleshy stalks lined with thick, succulent leaves. Large, tightly-packed flower heads that look much like flat broccoli florets bloom in early fall through frost. Left to its own devices, Sedum can become leggy and straggly looking, the stems unable to support their heavy flowering crowns. Stems can bend and break, the colorful flower heads dragging unattractively in the dirt. Pinching back Sedum as the plants start to gain height in July will produce sturdy, bushy plants in the fall that are capable to supporting colorful upright blooms.
Pinching back sedum (and other flowering plants) forces the plant to branch out and become bushier, growing studier stalks. Pinching should be done only early in the growing season so that flower heads have plenty of time to develop fully. Start pinching back sedum when it reaches 8 inches in height. Cut back by 3 or 4 inches (the rule is half the plant’s height) or pinch off the growing tip. This can be done a maximum of 2 or 3 times before allowing the plant to continue development.
Sedum is easy to grow and is often planted to attract butterflies to the garden. Flower heads will be green at first, changing to a pale pink or mauve, the color deepening as the plants mature. Sedum tolerates poor soil and is both heat and drought tolerant. This fall favorite prefers full sun and light, well-drained soil. If left in the garden, dry sedum heads turn a pretty tan and provide visual and textural interest in the winter garden.