Propogating Sedum

aloha2009August 17, 2013

I've been propogating all my sedums and now I have a question.

I have small very tiny sedum that I planted in the ground about the 3rd week of July and then another batch 2 weeks later. I planted them kind of prematurely because I wanted to make sure they got a reasonably established root system before the winter set in. They were so small I wasn't sure they would even make it (from clipping to outside was about 14 days).

Well luckily almost all of them are alive and doing quite well. Well enough to flower, which leads me to my question. Should I remove the flower buds that are forming so the growth will be more in the roots or will it traumatize the plant too much. They are still very tiny.

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Aloha,

First of all, it they're doing well enough to be blooming some, you don't need to worry about them AT ALL over winter. You're not gonna BELIEVE how they take off in spring!

About cutting back! It all depends on what you want. Because they're (most of them) evergreen, I like a nice compact little plant over winter (as opposed to a long straggly one), I cut all my sedums back at least once a year, sometimes a couple times. I think the dead flower stems are especially ugly, so if for some reason I don't cut the whole plant down I do at least go thru and cut out the dead flowers (all the way down to the ground). So you can either leave them just as they are now, you can cut out just the flowers, or you can cut them down all the way--with bigger plants that means 1/4 to 1/2" above the ground, with your small plants you might want to go a half inch or a little higher, less than an inch.

A couple other points! I you leave most of the stems longer at this point, they will continue to root wherever they come in contact with the soil, but that makes for a kind of willy-nilly spread since you can't really control which way they "flop" and where they're gonna root. If you cut them all the way back now it will "force" a more controlled spread at the base of the original plant, so you'll be maintaining the "shape" of the original plant but it will just get bigger and better. Also, if you cut them down now you have WAY plenty of time for them to come back in a short, full plant before they go dormant for winter, and they may still be small, but they should look pretty nice over winter.

ALSO, if you cut them back now, you have a bunch more cuttings and you can stick some more of them to start more separate plants (they'll be fine over winter!), or you could use the cuttings to start some small plants for the swap, if there is one. (I'm gettin' ready to go trippin' again, so if there is one, I'll be there if I'm back home when it happens!)

It sounds like you're doing a good job of propagating them already, but in case you have any questions about that I'll copy/paste my "Rooting Sedum Cuttings" info here since I probably won't have time to come back right now to answer any questions. (Because it's copied from Word it might come out all "weird" looking, haven't copied anything from Word recently, but if there are a lot of big black diamonds instead of single or double quotes--sorry 'bout that!)

Rooting Sedum Cuttings

To root sedum cuttings, snip off tip pieces that are about 2" long (or longer!), carefully strip off all but the top 2 or 4 leaves, bunch them into little “bouquets” of 6 to about 12 pieces (or more), snip the bottoms again to make them all the same length (easier to stick if you do that), and stick them either directly into the ground where you want them, or into individual pots, or a couple inches apart in a flat--"and plant out when rooted if not put directly into the ground. [Use a store bought potting soil if planting in containers. Do NOT use Hyponex brand!] Stick them into the soil all the way up to the remaining leaves. By sticking several of them together you’ll wind up with much nicer plants--"more quickly--"than if you just stick one or two at a time.

You can also make stem cuttings if you really want a whole bunch! To do that snip the stems into pieces--"keeping the top up, and do everything else the same as for tip cuttings, pulling off all but the top 2 leaves. Be sure you’re sticking the “bottom” of the stem into the soil and not the “top.” They may not root if stuck upside down--"though with sedum, they might root anyway. And if you really want a lot, you can even stick pieces of stem with no leaves on it at all--"just be sure, again, that the bottom is stuck into the soil. Stem cuttings will take longer to look really nice than tip cuttings do, but they’ll become thicker plants more quickly since each cutting will develop two or more tips rather than just the one a tip cutting produces.

With Sedum album it will be difficult to strip the foliage off of the stems. Just put them in little “bouquets” and stick them with the foliage still on the stems! Sedum album will root absolutely anywhere, under absolutely any conditions, so it really doesn’t make much difference what you do with it! With the ‘Blue Carpet’ it’s not going to be possible to strip the foliage off of the stems without breaking the stems, so do the same thing as with Sedum album, just put the cuttings in little bunches and stick them. (This also applies to Sedum acre and any of the others with very fine foliage.)

After the sedums start growing, when they get a couple inches long, snip off the tips--"cut them back to ½ - 1” long, and use them for cuttings or throw them away. By “pinching” the new plants, they’ll come back fuller and nicer than they were. I cut my sedums down to the ground at least once a summer to keep them from getting all straggly looking. Best time to do it is right after they’re done blooming, or very early in summer for late blooming ones.

I don't have time to find pics now to show you what they look like over winter after I've cut them down, but I found this thread that has quite a few pics, and near the bottom of the pics are some that are blooming so you can compare how floppy they get with how they look after being cut and "coming back." I don't have time to reread all that, but I think there was quite a bit of info in it. It's a thread about "ground covers" so there's more in it than just sedums!)

Have to go! Hope something in all that helps you!


Here is a link that might be useful: Groundcover thread

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 12:57AM
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Wow Skybird, my next question is when are you going to publish your gardening book!

It's good to know that my 60 or so starts will indeed make it. With the little starts being one stem and only about 2" tall, I think I'll just save my efforts till next year.

Next spring I'll be clipping away and doing as you suggested with the little bunches. With the original ones being so new, I wanted to see what they would do and not massacre the new plants. Next year, I should have enough to fill in my garden and likely bring to the spring swap - it feels good to graduate up to giving things away instead of just taking.

Seriously you need to compile all your knowledge together and get it published!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 9:33PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

LOL! I'll put a gardening book on my Bucket List, Aloha! But that's not gonna happen till I write the book I've been wanting to write for about 20 years now--about Life! Guess I better get started! I just turned 70!

Just want to make one quick suggestion! Especially since you started individual cuttings (which a lot of people do), if you don't want to cut them all the way down, I would strongly recommend that you go around and "tip pinch" each of them--just cut off the top one or two sets of leaves. That will have the effect of forcing more new growth from the bottom, so you'll wind up with "more stems" in spring than if you don't pinch/cut them at all.

Gotta go,

    Bookmark   August 19, 2013 at 12:07PM
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