Sedum 'Purple Emperor'
Our Sedum came to us quite by
accident. My Mom, Dad and my sister went to a garden society plant
sale a few years ago and among the plants they brought home was a
small pot labeled as a ‘dahlia’. It was late in the season, so I
didn’t really think much of it that this little plant didn’t have any
growth - it just looked like a pot of dirt. My Dad was told that
underneath was a dahlia bulb and we assumed that we'd have a lovely
dahlia plant the following year. But, when this plant started
growing it was clear this was no dahlia! Instead of the familiar green
leafy foliage, puffy purple waxy leaves grew on a rubbery stalk.
My Mom grew jade and aloe as house plants when my sister and I were young, so I was familiar enough with succulents to know that this plant was on that order. After some researching, I discovered our specimen was actually a succulent of the genus Sedum. Its a Purple Emperor Stonecrop (common name - botanical name is Sedum Purple Emperor).
Though a succulent wasn't quite what we expected, it happy accident as I’ve ended up immensely enjoying this little surprise plant. Over the years, the Sedum has thrived with minimal watering and just this year finally had to transplant it to a larger pot. I look forward to its red flowers every year. It begins to bloom around mid-August and continues into September. For that reason, I’m featuring the Purple Emperor Stonecrop for this months In the Garden.
Did you know...
There are about 400 different species of Sedum - which includes a wide variety of succulents that look very different from one another.
Depending on the species, Sedum flowers can be white, red, orange, yellow and light purple.
Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’ came from England, but some species of Sedum are native to North America. In fact, Sedum can be found almost anywhere in the world where harsh conditions are prevalent. Sedum Divergens for example, is native to the Western US (Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California) and Canada and is commonly found in NW British Colombia’s lava beds.
Butterflies and bees love Sedum flowers and will visit any species of Sedum for nectar.
On the Better Homes and Gardens list for Top 17 Sedums - Purple Emperor ranks first! To see the list, click here.
Winter doesn’t phase Sedum - which are usually hardy to around Zone 3. To find out what your zone is, visit the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map by clicking here.
Sedum are perennials and can be deciduous or evergreen, depending on the species. Our Sedum is deciduous, losing its leaves every year in the winter and flourishing with new growth every late winter or early spring depending on the weather.
Sedum are easy keepers - they don’t require much care at all and can be left alone for long periods of time. This species actually thrives in dry conditions and well-draining soil without much nutrients.
The flowers on our Sedum are about to bloom....
Soil and Sun Requirements
Well draining soil is a must - as Sedum are a succulent plant and retain plenty of moisture in their leaves. Soil should not be overly rich - poor, well draining soil is best. Sedum do best in full sun, but will tolerate a very small amount of shade if necessary.
Planting and Maintenance
As we mentioned in the previous section - its important to plant Sedum in well-draining soil in a location with full sun. Sedum do not need much maintenance and require very little water. I’ll be honest in saying that I probably used to over water my Sedum before I really knew what I was doing! Even in during a really wet spring season where we live, our Sedum has faired wonderfully. However, the less often I water the Sedum, the more beautiful it is. Watering once or twice a month during the summer season is sufficient.
If you are a nurturing gardener who loves to fuss over your plants (like me) it might be difficult at first to maintain a hands-off approach with this plant - but if you do, you will be rewarded greatly! If you’re a plant it and forget it type of gardener - Sedum is the plant for you.
Sedum can be planted outdoors in a flowerbed among other drought tolerant plants with similar soil and water requirements. It can also be used in a container garden or grown indoors as a house plant. Planting Sedum can be done three seasons out of the year - spring, summer and autumn.
Fertilizing Sedum is completely unnecessary and in some ways, may result in weak plants.
Digging Deeper: Species Profile
Our Sedum after transplanting to a larger pot...
Our Sedum’s botanical name is Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’. This succulent plant has dark purple foliage and reddish colored flowers which bloom in late summer. Purple Emperor Sedum can grow to be about 15 inches tall and 15 inches wide. It has an vertical growing habit and will not take up much space in a flowerbed or container garden.
Succulents are easy to grow and anyone can maintain this species as a fine house plant or as part of a container garden on your sunny deck. But the reason I love Sedum is because they remind me of the scripture in Jeremiah 17:8 NIV, which says,
“They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
With Jesus in our heart, we can be like the lovely Sedum, growing in strength and beauty no matter how dry conditions are around us. We can bear fruit for Him even in the most unlikely of circumstances.
By, Jessi Wasell
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