September: Showy Autumn Stonecrop

When people envision their ideal garden, they usually think about it at the height of summer, full of mid-season perennials and warm sunshine. But there are many excellent plants that continue the landscape show into the late summer and fall, and showy autumn stonecrop (often called sedum) is one of the best.

Image source:, by Marc Ryckaert

Image source:, by Marc Ryckaert

As more and more gardeners are looking for hardy, drought-tolerant plants, Showy Autumn Stonecrop is gaining popularity. This relative of succulents has thick, fleshy leaves that allow the plant to store more water, and the waxy coating on the leaves helps reduce water loss from evaporation. With these traits in mind, you might guess that this plant comes to us from Africa or the Middle East, but it is actually native to Asia, particularly from drier regions of China and Korea. In addition to its use for dry soils, many people love Showy Autumn Stonecrop because it is an excellent late season food source for pollinators (learn more about helping pollinators in some of our past blog posts).

Photo by Maria Gulley

Photo by Maria Gulley

Common Name: Showy Autumn Stonecrop

Scientific Name: Hylotelephium spectabile and Hylotelephium x hybrida (the genus name is sometimes listed as Sedum)

Notable Varieties: 'Autumn Joy' (classic improved variety), 'Autumn Fire' (recent introduction with deeper color and reduced tendency to split), 'Pink Bomb' (shorter than other varieties)

Light: full sun

Size: 18-24" tall and wide

Soil: well drained soil is essential, tolerates sand and drought

Blooms: various shades of pink flowers on big clusters from late summer into fall

Other Notes: pollinators love it; can rot in wet soil; very heat and drought tolerant once established

See other plants of the month.

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