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Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Updated on December 15, 2016

It's no garden diva.

In spring, Sedum 'Autumn Joy' greens up, producing silvery foliage that eventually reaches heights of up to two feet. Pictured: Autumn Joy planted near a potted miniature rose bush.
In spring, Sedum 'Autumn Joy' greens up, producing silvery foliage that eventually reaches heights of up to two feet. Pictured: Autumn Joy planted near a potted miniature rose bush. | Source
Live Forever sedum grows tall by mid-summer, producing immature flower heads that bloom in autumn.
Live Forever sedum grows tall by mid-summer, producing immature flower heads that bloom in autumn. | Source

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' is the scientific name for the silvery perennial known colloquially as Live Forever.

Although popular, Autumn Joy is no garden diva.

It isn't showy.

It isn't fussy.

It has character—and a subtle beauty every season of the year.


Spring

A shot of Autumn Joy in late spring.
A shot of Autumn Joy in late spring. | Source
In late spring, Sedum 'Autumn Joy' produces large flower heads with tight, light-green buds.
In late spring, Sedum 'Autumn Joy' produces large flower heads with tight, light-green buds. | Source

In spring, Autumn Joy "greens up," sprouting thick, silvery foliage that feels firm and rubbery to the touch.

Here in Southern Maryland, the Autumn Joy in our flowerbeds grows to about five inches by mid-April. At this time, I divide it, giving away some clumps and transplanting some.

Slowly, as spring turns into summer, Autumn Joy's thick stalks grow taller, reaching up to two feet in height by July.

At their tips, flower heads form. Eventually the heads, which are comprised of small buds, widen and thicken.

On some of our larger Autumn Joy sedum plants, the heads grow up to four inches in diameter, with densely packed buds.

At first these buds are nondescript—small, light green and tight.

Autumn Joy's small flower buds slowly unfurl in summer.
Autumn Joy's small flower buds slowly unfurl in summer. | Source
Source

Summer

As spring passes into summer, the pale, tiny buds of Autumn Joy's flower heads slowly open to reveal increasingly vibrant color.

At first, the small flowers appear white. However, as summer progresses, the tiny buds further unfurl, appearing delicate, almost fragile, in pale pink or lavender.

Source

Fall

By autumn, Autumn Joy's flower buds fully open, putting on quite a display, especially the big clumps of sedum. Their masses of thickly-packed purple, deep pink or red blossoms burst with vivid color atop silvery-gray, flat-topped flower heads—ideal landing pads for butterflies, bees and moths.

Here in Zone 7, our Autumn Joy is in full flower by mid-September, just when so many other herbaceous perennials are going to seed.

This photo, dated Sept. 22, 2012, shows Live Forever sedum in full bloom.
This photo, dated Sept. 22, 2012, shows Live Forever sedum in full bloom. | Source

A staple in rock gardens and a habitue of difficult-to-cultivate areas, Live Forever can grow in just about any type of soil, so long as there's good drainage.

Winter

To give the garden structure in winter, Autumn Joy may be allowed to dry on the stalk. As it does so, it will go through an interesting period of transformation as its fleshy stalks and heads yellow, brown and shrink.

Eventually, the entire plant turns an attractive russet brown.

Sedum flower heads provide visual interest in our flower beds against a backdrop of January snow.
Sedum flower heads provide visual interest in our flower beds against a backdrop of January snow. | Source
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Although I pick a few drying stalks of Autumn Joy to use in arrangements, we leave our sedum plants whole rather than cut them back.

Dried Autumn Joy provides visual interest throughout the winter, standing tall even in the snow.

In spring, as the succulent, new green growth emerges, I break off the old dry stems and add them to my dried flower collection. In their own way, they're as beautiful as pearly balls of white hydrangea or the shiny coin-shaped pods of the money plant.

Spring, summer, fall, winter—Sedum 'Autumn Joy' has a quiet, subtle beauty every season of the year.

Source

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    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 10 months ago from United States

      Lynn, your plant might be getting too much shade and/or too much water. I had what you are describing happen to one of our plants. Last year, its location was fine; this year, because a nearby tree grew dramatically, it was cast in too much shade and we ended up with brown flowerheads. I also watered that bed, which I usually never do because a seeper hose attached to a rain barrel runs through it, but this year the heat and drought were so bad, I did water, and I think I overdid it. You could try moving it or snapping off some and sticking it in a better location. It roots very easily. All the best, Jill

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      Lynn Schell 10 months ago

      Planted pinkish/rosey red autumn joy sedums in the late spring. As the buds are turning pinkish, they are turning dark brown! Any suggestions?

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi Eddy! "Gem" is the perfect word to describe Autumn Joy! Always nice to hear from you. Take care, Jill

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      So very interesting and useful;even though we only have small paved patio we grow all sorts in containers and this gem will be so useful. Have a great day.

      Eddy.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi Glimmer Twin Fan! Thanks so much for sharing the hub and voting. Autumn Joy's one of my favorite plants, too. Take it easy! Jill

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      I have been adding sedum slowly over the years and really enjoy it. It's so easy to care for and I particularly enjoy the winter interest. Thanks for another beautiful and informative hub. Pinned, shared, up and beautiful.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Thank you, Green Art! This hub's not getting much traffic, so I'm glad for the votes of confidence!

    • Green Art profile image

      Green Art 4 years ago

      I have Autumn Joy in several areas in my yard and just love it! The photo's of all the changes it makes each season are great in your hub. Voted Up and Beautiful:)

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Thanks so much, BlossomSB. Appreciate it! --Jill

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      A great hub, informative and supported with lovely photos. Voting it up.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi aviannovice! Sedum by the lake--sounds pretty. Don't think it's native though. Live Forever is native to China, I think. Thanks for stopping by!

      @ ytsenoh-- You're very kind. As for being an expert ... I think of myself as more of a constant learner. Take it easy! --Jill

    • ytsenoh profile image

      Cathy 4 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

      I love to garden too, but you are the expert. I learned a lot about gardening from my dad, and I considered him the expert too. What excellent style and creativity flourishes in your hubs. Absolutely telling and beautiful. Thanks much.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I noticed sedum all around the lake, especially around the Northern Reaches by the water. It is such a lovely succulent.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
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      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      Hi Patricia! Yes, it's sort of an old-fashioned plant. A good one for an informal garden. Thanks for stopping by! (: Take care, Jill

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      This is an interesting plant. My Mother used to have these around her property and would point out to me its appearance as it morphed into a new phase. I will have to see about giving some of it a home in my yard.

      Sending you Angels this evening. :) ps

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image
      Author

      Jill Spencer 4 years ago from United States

      I really like it. Once it gets going in your garden, you can just break off bits and stick them in the soil to start new plants--just like you would any other sedum. They're all easy to grow, but ... I just really like Autumn Joy. Happy gardening!

    • OldRoses profile image

      Caren White 4 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      Fabulous photos! I'm going to be trying Autumn Joy this year. I finally have a garden with enough sun to be able to grow it.

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