Sedums have great foliage colour and stunning heads of flower. Beginning in late summer, the flowers are fantastic for extending the season well into the autumn months. Sedums underwent a name change a few years ago and some have new names and are no longer called sedums. The plant known as Sedum ‘Matrona’, for example, is now called Hylotelephium ‘Matrona’.
Hylotelephium is a great plant for the garden. It reaches up to 1m (3ft) tall and makes a neat clump, not spreading too much. It often looks better when it is grown on slightly poorer soil - if the soil is very nutritious or regularly watered it can put on too much soft growth leading to the stems collapsing as they are unable to hold themselves up.
Hylotelephium is an herbaceous perennial with very thick, waxy leaves in which it stores moisture for drier times. The foliage starts the year pale olive-green and gradually darkens to purple through the summer, particularly along the leaf mid-ribs. The colour gets stronger when the plant is stressed, such as in hot, dry conditions, when the dark purple tones are stunning and add another dimension to a border.
Like the foliage, the stout stems are also dark purple. During late summer, the large, flat-topped, dark purple flowering heads begin to form with white flower buds opening to small pale pink flowers. The vast number of flowers develop into large, individual flower heads through early autumn, and are loved by all pollinating insects such as bees and hoverflies.
Hylotelephium is an easy plant to grow and is trouble free, it likes to be grown in a sunny position and it enjoys well-drained soil and will survive in hot dry conditions. The large flower heads give the plant great form during autumn and winter. To maintain them we cut the stems back to the base in the following spring. They look particularly good when coated with frost or snow.
At RHS Garden Hyde Hall Hylotelephium grows well in the Farmhouse Garden where it enjoys the sunny, south-facing situation and it combines well with other perennials such as Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Star of the East’ and Agapanthus ‘Midnight Blue’ with contrasting orange and blue flowers respectively, or perennials such as Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ with complementary purple flowers. Hylotelephium also features in the Dry Garden where it tolerates the zero irrigation policy and associates well with late-season grasses such as Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ and Stipa tenuissima or perennials such as agapanthus. This sedum also features in the new Winter Garden where we have included a variety of perennials and grasses in bold drifts among the other winter interest trees and shrubs to create a garden with all season interest.