Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Easy Propagation of Sedum Perrenials

If you love sedum - you can easily multiply your plants!
Easily Propagate Sedum Perennials

Showy sedum such as Autumn Joy, Autumn Fire Stonecrop,  'Postman's Pride', variegated foliage on "Frosty Morn",  'Brilliant', which has bright pink petals; and 'Stardust', which has silvery-pink flowers, can be used in containers, as ground cover, in rock gardens, borders and given as gifts!  

I bought my first showy sedum at the garden center. Debating the purchase price which was it something like $10-25/each! I brought one home and then discovered just how easy it is to propagate. Now take cutting from neighbors, trading for other plants, and using sedums in a variety of guerrilla garden projects. Showy Sedums are succulents - so the same principles apply from my prior post on propagating succulents  

In my cold climate garden, showy sedums are 18-24 inches tall, blooming in midsummer through autumn.  They require little maintenance and are fairly pest resistant. The old foliage/stems make good winter interest. The showy sedums die to the ground in winter then sprout back from its tuberous roots in spring.  



I've event taught preschoolers how to propagate sedum.  You can do it!  There are three propagation techniques which work well:
  1. Immersion
  2. Controlled Pot Growth
  3. Direct Garden Placement
  4. Division
In techniques 1- 3 you will need to take a cutting from a healthy sedum plant. I generally take a single stem of the subject sedum and cut it back to the ground. I can then cut this into 3-4 smaller pieces for propagation if desired.  No need to worry about using only the tip portion, although others will say to take only the soft tips of the sedum for propagation.  BTW many of these techniques also work really well on herbs



1. IMMERSION TECHNIQUE

Sedum in water to force rooting
This technique requires a bit of a longer cutting.  I tend to take a piece which is 6 inches long. 

Remove leaves from the lower portion of the cutting - these would be submerged and could rot. 

Take the pieces of Autumn Joy you have prepared for propagation and place them in a cup or glass that is filled with water. Make sure that only the sedum stem in in the water ( no leaves.) 

Then place the glass in a warm spot with lots of light. 

Autumn Joy Rooting in Water 
Do not let the water dry out completely, and change it every few days.  In a weeks time your cutting will begin to root, and will sprout new growth.  Take a look at the pictures below.  You can keep the sedums in water for some time, eventually you should transplant outside. They can go into the ground, even in August-October. I try to put at least three of these little sprouts together. Once you do this, keep a good supply of water until the roots are established in the garden soil. I try to water every other day for 10-12 days.





2. CONTROLLED POT GROWTH (Cuttings)

Usually late in the summer I remember that I wanted to propagate more sedum.  I prepare the stems by cutting rather long sections ~ 6 inches and remove the leaves from the lower 3 inches.  Next I place regular potting soil with about 10% perlite into small pots. Place the sedum cutting into the pots.  
Sedum propagation from cuttings

Take care that there are no leaves buried into the soil.   Water the sedums periodically (they have dried out sometimes without ill-effect.)    

The original stem cutting will die back and new shoots will appear at the base of the plant  (see the little shoots at the right?)  

Keeping the sedum potted indoors all winter (in your in a cold climate).  If you place them outside in late fall, the tender shoots will die and not return.  Sometimes, while held indoors, the sedum shoots may die back all the way. Not to worry, in springtime they sprout back.  Watering in the winter should be only to keep the soil from getting rock hard - too much water will rot the baby plants/roots.

If you start cuttings in pots early enough in the summer, you should be able to place them directly in the garden after the shoots take off. If not, just see them come up in the pots in the spring and then place them outside. 




3. DIRECT GARDEN PLACEMENT (Cuttings)


This technique is as easy as it sounds. It is best conducted in late Spring or Early Summer. Prepare the stems as previously described in cutting section above.  Prepare a space in the garden by lightening up the soil with some peat moss and maybe a little potting soil. 


Then take each stem and directly place it into the garden where you want the new plant to grow. I like to keep 5-6 inches of the stem viable and above ground, with 3 nodes below ground.  See picture on left below, the stick is the sedum, it's fall so there's not much color there. Water if there has not been any rain.  The roots will form and new growth will begin at the ground level.  The original stem may-or may-not survive.  Over a few years you will get a nice clump of new sedum (see picture on right below)

Note - if you try this technique late in the season the stem may root, but not put up new growth until springtime. A light pull on the sedum stem you placed in the ground, if met with any resistance, indicates that there are roots.



Autumn Joy stems in soil for Propagation
Two years later - nice new stand of sedum

















4. DIVISION:   The last technique, as with many perennials  is to divide well established clumps into smaller groups and replant them. 
Sedums are found in North America (including Greenland), South America, Asia, Europe and Africa.  Showy sedums are native to China and Korea.  The popular 'Autumn Joy' (S.'Herbstfreude') hybrid has large, alternate leaves and blooms late in the season with large, pinkish-bronze flower clusters.  The esteemed British  Royal Horticultural Society gave 'Autumn Joy' sedum an Award of Garden Merit. I guess then we all wanted it!  Given how easy it is to propagate them - I hope you share your joy with friends! 

If you are in Chicagoland - email me for some cuttings to start your own sedums.


Happy Gardening!


Teresa Marie


PS check this more recent blog update to see how the cuttings grew over a few month period