How To Add Colour In Autumn
Amateur Gardening|October 02, 2021
If you want a hardworking perennial for autumn colour that thrives on neglect and provides food for insects, try planting hylotelephiums, says Louise Curley
Louise Curley

HYLOTELEPHIUMS, once known as sedums, are hardy herbaceous perennials with a long season of interest that peaks in autumn with a stunning display of flowers that are a magnet for pollinators. As soon as the soil starts to warm up in spring, rosettes of foliage appear above the ground, stout stems and fleshy leaves develop throughout summer, and in late summer clusters of flowerbuds form flat flowerheads. These open as autumn approaches to reveal small star-like flowers, providing bees, butterflies and hoverflies with a nectarrich feed before the weather turns cold. And their presence continues after the flowers fade, so don’t be tempted to cut them back as the skeletal seedheads turn chestnut brown and glisten as frost picks out the intricate details.

Pink, white and yellow flowers

There are numerous species, but the two most commonly grown in gardens are Hylotelephium telephium, which is native to Europe, and Hylotelephium spectabile from Japan. The majority of hylotelephiums have pink flowers, but there are white and yellow-flowered cultivars, too.

The foliage of these plants is typically green or glaucous blue, and there are cultivars of a variegated species Hylotelephium erythrostictum, but the most dramatic ones have deep-purple leaves. They tend to grow from 40-60cm (16-24in) tall, which makes them perfect for the front or middle of a border, where they combine well with other perennials such as nepeta, asters, penstemons, dahlias and salvias.

Thrive with a bit of neglect

These plants are really easy to grow and are generally trouble-free – in fact, they thrive with a bit of neglect. They need plenty of sun and will do best in slightly poor soil that’s free-draining, so you don’t need to worry about improving the soil or watering them. Hylotelephiums are classed as succulents due to their thick leaves and stems that have evolved to store water, allowing the plants to cope with periods of drought in their native habitats.

If a gap has opened up in a border in your garden or you’re looking to add more autumnal colour to your garden, then you can’t go wrong with these hardworking perennials.

6 of the best hylotelephiums

H. (Herbstfreude Group) ‘Herbstfreude’ AGM

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