How to grow hylotelephium
Hylotelephium (until recently called Sedum) are popular for their late-summer, nectar-rich flowers that are irresistible to butterflies and other pollinators. Whether you grow them in a flower border, wildlife or dry garden, here is all you’ll need to know to get the best results from your plant.
- Flowers in late summer and autumn
- Plant in spring or early autumn in free draining soil
- Easy to grow and flower in full sun
- Prevent sprawling stems by cutting them back by half in late May to produce compact plants
- Extremely hardy, capable of withstanding -20°C (-4°F)
- Easily propagated from cuttings or division
- Plants are herbaceous perennials – the stems dying back to the ground each autumn
All you need to know
What are Hylotelphium?
These are flesh leaved plants, renowned for their late summer and autumn flowers. The flowers form flat, plate like blooms in shades of mainly red, pink and white. These perennial plants are easy to grow and very tolerant of dry conditions, making them an excellent choice if you have dry soil or don't want to water in summer. They make great plant for providing nectar for bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects, so are great for supporting wildlife in your garden.
Choosing a Hylotelephium for your gardenAs hylotelephiums will grow in most soils, the main decision on which plant to grow is usually based on their leaf and flower colours. They come in foliage shades from bronze, grey-green to variegated cream and green, with the flowers in complementary and constrasting colours. Consider choosing a plant that goes well with the colour scheme in your border, or one that will enhance the colour of the plants that will be adjacent to it.
Some hylotelephium cultivars can produce plants that grow to 60cm (2ft) in height, and spread to 1m (3⅓ft). Others form low, creeping plants that would be best at the front of the border or rockery. Check the labels of plants before choosing them to make sure they are appropriate for the planting space you have in mind.
- Hylotelephiums produce small red, pink or white flowers in large flat heads, which can almost cover the plant
- Butterflies and other pollinators love the long-lasting flowers of hylotelephiums
- Hylotelephium flower in late summer and autumn making them ideal if you’re looking for plants to extend the flowering season to later in the year in your garden
- Even in winter, the brown old flower stems and mahogany flower heads if left in place, can still be ornamental and provide useful structure in your garden. Used in this way, hylotelephium can contribute for a really long period in your garden and also provide overwintering sites for beneficial insects like ladybirds and lacewings
- The foliage is fleshy and bold, and is the main feature until they flower in late summer
- Upright forms tend to have green or greenish-blue foliage
- Cultivars with a spreading or lax habit are more likely to offer bronze-tinged or dark mahogany brown leaves. It's also worth noting that a pruning method called the
(See Pruning below) can often help make these plants more upright Chelsea chop
The Chelsea chop is a pruning technique to bring floppy plants under control and extend their flowering season. Named after the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in late May because the task's timing coincides. Cut back the flower stems by up to a half (the taller the variety the more you can cut it back) for new compact growth and later flowers.
Beneficial for pollinatorsThe nectar-rich flowers are loved by beneficial pollinating insects including bees, hoverflies and butterflies and are perfect for feeding them when other flowers become scarcer in autumn. This makes a great choice for you to support beneficial insects in either your border or a wildlife garden.
Still struggling to chose? There are hylotelephiums with an RHS Award of Garden Merit, which shows they performed well in RHS trials, so are reliable choices
Which ever you choose, many available in garden centres and nurseries, and from online suppliers, with a larger choice available by mail order.
- You may find a greater number of plants are available in late summer and autumn when the plants are in flower
- Look for healthy plants that are producing plenty of healthy stems
- Avoid buying weak-looking diseased plants, or those in pots that have weeds growing in the pots, as these are unlikely to do as well in your garden
When to plantThe best time to plant hylotelephiums is in autumn when the soil is still warm or in spring when the plants are just coming into growth. However, the widest range of plants is available in late summer in garden centres and they can still be planted at this time as long as you keep the ground moist after planting for the rest of the season.
Where to plant
Hylotelephiums prefer to grow in reasonably fertile, well-drained soil. Plants can rot if planted in poorly-draining soil that remains very wet in winter; but they are surprisingly resilient and will often survive even waterlogging. You can always improve the drainage if you have heavy clay soil, by digging in approximately a bucketful per square metre/yard of well-rotted organic matter such as garden compost or well-rotted manure. This will improve drainage instead of incorporating sand or grit as this requires very large quantities to be be effective.
Positioning your plant carefully will ensure it grows and flowers well and looks its best with the other plants around it.
- Hylotelephiums grow and flower best in full sun. Placing your plant in too much shade can lead to weak, lax growth with few, or no flowers, but they will often survive there happily enough
- As these plants can vary in height and spread according to the cultivar, plant your chosen hylotelephiums where you know it will have sufficient space grow well. Plant labels will usually carry this information so check when buying and planting
- They are usually tolerate exposed position such as a windy or frosty site without problems
- Tolerant of dry soils when established (this usually only takes a few months), they will grow well with other plants suitable for drought resistant gravel gardens and Mediterranean style gardens
- Hylotelephiums can also be grown in containers, but need watering to keep the compost moist as the roots are limited to where they can seek out moisture
- Although these plants in the ground can cope with dry conditions once established, you may need to pwater for a few months after planting. Watering, particularly in dry periods, will ensure your new plant establishes its roots into the surrounding soil
- Once established, hylotelephiums in the ground are drought tolerant plants that are happy just receiving natural rainfall, so there’ll be no need for you to water the plants from then on except after months of dry weather
- Plants in containers will need watering to keep the compost moist as the roots are limited to where they can seek out moisture
- Remove any weeds that may grow around your plant as they could otherwise compete with it for the available moisture in the soil, particularly while it is establishing
Your hylotelephiums will need little or no feeding in most garden soils. Too much plant food, particularly nitrogen (which is in most plant fertilisers), will lead to lush floppy growth that can be disease prone and flower poorly.
- To create bushy, compact plants with stems more resistant to flopping under their own weight, cut back the new stems by half in late May. This method is called the Chelsea Chop
- Cut back dead stems after flowering is over, or if you prefer, leave the stems with flower heads unpruned to provide structure and interest over winter
- Cut these dead stems back to the ground in spring, as succulent new growths emerge from the basal crown
- When propagating your hylotelephiums by division, lift and divide the clump in spring ensuring each piece has several new shoots and then replant each piece separately into well-prepared soil
- You can propagate these plants from softwood cuttings, taken from non-flowering shoots in early summer
- You may also find rooted shoots at the bases of the stems which often drop away from the parent plant in late winter. These can be planted out to form new clumps
Garden pests such as slugs and snails can damage soft growth and vine weevil may damage roots, especially in containers.
If deer come into your garden, you may find they browse (eat) the foliage of hylotelephium.
If you're a member of the RHS, you can use our online Gardening Advice service, via MyRHS for any gardening questions or gardening problems.
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.