Published Friday, October 9, 2020

Color and easy care

By Victoria Torley

You have that spot in your garden that just doesn’t seem to get it right. Plants languish there and you think you have tried everything, so I decided to try succulents. Well, maybe you haven’t. Have you tried succulents?

I bought my first succulent a couple of weeks ago for a spot where nothing seemed to work- except ferns. Ferns just seem to pop up. Anyway, I am a little tired of pop-up ferns. Not that I dislike ferns, but they are everywhere. So, I bought my first succulent and it is doing beautifully, so I am ready for more of them, especially if I can get them in mass colors or maybe in the ‘weeping’ varieties to soften the hard edges of the raised bed.

So, where is a good place to start? Hmmm. How about the Sedum genus? Why? That’s easy. Sedum spurium can spread 12-18 inches – call it 30-45 cm – a year, so it is a real galloper if you want to fill a space. It is a low-rise plant, 6 inches (15cm) or so and has tri-colored leaves, which makes it very attractive when it is not flowering, which it does! So, if you are picking out this Sedum, look for one that is flowering and mix and match for the garden.

Once you’ve decided on your Sedum, plant them at least a foot apart – remember they are going to spread. Once they all fill in, you are going to have plants to: a) give to friends, b) put somewhere else.

The other nice thing about Sedum is that they need very little care and they like acidic soil (our often volcanic soil is good for that). They also like well-drained soil and full sun, although they will take some light shade as well. That well-drained soil is important in the rainy season but don’t worry about Sedum too much, they are drought tolerant.

Suppose you want another color in your succulent garden? Maybe a constant bright yellow? Well, then, you want Sedum ruprestre “Angelina” which has yellow foliage all year round and yellow flowers in the blooming season. And an orange tint to the leaves in the late season. The plant grows to about six inches (15cm) with a flower spike about eight inches tall (20cm), so it is a good fit with spurium. Like spurium it is tolerant of poor soils and some neglect. Planted in too much shade and it turns lime green, not an unattractive color.

More about Sedum and other succulents in the coming weeks.

Plant for the Week

A week or so ago, I asked for an idea of what kind of vine I have growing – and got no answer. Very sad, so here it is again. As you can see, it has upright stems of purple flowers and they are lightly scented. As you can also see, it is a vigorous grower and loves to stop up my gutters. I hope that someone will recognize it this time. Thanks!

Editor's note: More information on this article or about gardening, Ms. Victoria Torley, gardener columnist, can be reached at

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