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What is a Golden Sedum?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Voight
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2016
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Golden sedum, or sedum adolphii, is a yellow, succulent, evergreen perennial plant in the genus Sedum. It is popular for use in sunny rock gardens, terraced landscapes, and ground cover. Originally from Mexico, this plant is hardy in warm and temperate areas, and it does not tolerate frost. Golden sedum needs full sun to attain its attractive golden color. It will tolerate part-sun, but the leaves may stay green, edged with purple or pink. Golden sedum’s reputation for low maintenance and ease of growth make it a good plant for beginning gardeners.

Although the term “golden sedum” typically refers to sedum adolphii, there are other species of yellow succulents that go by variants of the name. For example, Japanese golden sedum, sedum makinoi ‘Ogon’, produces yellowish flowers in the summer and can handle more temperate climates and even temperatures to 0°F (about -18°C). Improved golden sedum, sedum kamtschaticam, is hardy to temperatures falling to -30°F (about -34.4°C), making it suitable for a variety of climates that cannot support sedum adolphii. To add to the confusion, nurseries sometimes mislabel other succulents as sedum adolphii.

Golden sedum is deer resistant and tolerant of drought and poor soil conditions. The term “succulent” refers to a plant that is well-adapted to arid conditions and tolerant of drought. Succulents have fleshy leaves that hold moisture. Golden sedum can tolerate neutral to mildly alkaline soil and does best in well-drained soil, especially in raised beds.

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Sedum adolphii was rare until the mid-1990s when Dutch nurseries began selling it mixed in with other Sedum cultivars. Its easy propagation and fast growth make it a popular ground cover. The plant is so easy to propagate that gardeners have dropped stems on the ground during planting, neglected to pick them up, and returned days later to find the stems taking root and spreading in the new location.

In the summer, sedum adolphii produces white to off-white, star-shaped flowers that make the plant attractive to butterflies and bees. The plant’s golden-colored, fleshy leaves mix well against darker green foliage in borders and beds for contrast and a colorful pop. Golden sedum grows to about 5 or 6 inches high (13 to 15 cm) and stems may reach 14 inches (about 36 cm). The color of the foliage may vary depending on growing conditions from year to year and from season to season. Golden sedum grows best in arid, desert regions and semi-tropical regions.

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