By Margaret A. Swenson
Master Gardener 

Sedum to the rescue

Gardening by Osmosis


Last updated 9/15/2022 at 1:45pm

I’ve heard of fried green tomatoes but fried pink petunias? I was disappointed when I came home from the lake to find my hanging baskets of petunias dry and brittle beyond recovery. I had planned an outdoor barbecue and was counting on my petunia baskets for decoration. There wasn’t time to replace the petunias and plus 90 degree temperatures were still in the forecast.

Though we gardeners usually consider ground covers to work their magic on the ground, why can’t they be as phenomenal hanging at eye level? And there are so many options available.

I needed species that were drought and heat tolerant, colorful and wouldn’t look like they were “just planted.”

Sedum to the rescue.They are tough and there are more than 400 varieties. Creeping sedums that grow well in my gardens include reddish Dragon’s Blood, bright pink John Creech, yellow Russian Stonecrop, gold leaved Angelina and pinky Coral Reef. The white flowering and variegated varieties enhancing my rock gardens and pathways would also look lovely tucked in hanging baskets.

Many garden centers have flats of mixed sedum. Just cut a chunk that fits your basket, plant, water and ‘wallah.’ You have instant eye catchers that are sure to please and you are ready for the party.

If your hanging baskets are in a shady spot there are ground covers for that environment as well.

Trailing vinca is nice and hangs gracefully without tangling. There are blue, white, purple and a variety with variegated leaves.

You might want to stuff a few colorful Heuchera, (coral bells) in the mix for pizazz. Varieties that are sure to please are lime green Citronelle, yummy Georgia Peach, nearly black Obsidian, as close to caramel as possible Carmel, and a lovely pinky-purple beauty called Plum Royal.

While we are on the subject of ground covers. I would like to share my all time favorite. Though it is a little pricy; Rock Daphne is at the top of my list. Besides being the most fragrant plant in the garden it is somewhat drought tolerant, evergreen and has the most delectable pink flowers in early summer. It is deer resistant, likes either full sun or partial shade and will make a three foot mat about 10 to 12 inches tall. Rock Daphne is perfect for rock gardens as it doesn’t require fertile soil and isn’t fussy about soil compositions as long as the ground is not wet. The bees and butterflies love it and you will too.

As you can well imagine, sedum is my go to plant for xeriscape and pollinator gardens. I planted varieties of sedum in potting dishes and nailed them to rungs on an old ladder. It is charming and winters over without any assistance from me.

In the spring you can’t grow wrong with creeping phlox. The variety Emerald Blue is the hardiest but the pink flowering varieties are lovely too. It is fun to see the daffodils pushing up through the carpet of blue under my Red Jade weeping crabapple tree.

I could tell you more about the shade loving, drought tolerant, deer resistant, evergreen, spring flowering merits of vinca, and also its aggressive behavior but my guests will be arriving soon so we will share more garden highlights next time.

Margarent Swenson is a Spokane County Master Gardener. To contact a master gardener, call 509-477-2181.


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