Help, My Sedums Are Too Heavy: Tips For Supporting And Pruning Sedum

Help, My Sedums Are Too Heavy: Tips For Supporting And Pruning Sedum

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By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Succulents are my all-time favorite variety of plants, and sedum plants top that list. The larger sedum varieties, such as Autumn Joy, produce huge flower heads. By the end of the season you may find sedums falling over from the weight. Other causes of bowed sedum heads may be rich soil or overwatering.

About Sedum Plants

The Sedum family encompasses plants that trail, spread like ground cover, tower 2 or more feet (0.6 m.), and those that just barely graze your ankles. The variety of the group allows the home gardener an opportunity to bring these relatively hardy succulents into their landscape.

The thick leaves are coated with a waxy substance to help conserve water, making these plants tolerant of low moisture conditions. Sedum plants come back in spring and begin as ground hugging rosettes. Soon stems form and then starry clusters of flowers. In the larger sedums, these mass into a globe of purple, pink, salmon or white color.

Top Heavy Sedum

Some sedum plants can get a bloom cluster the size of a man’s fist or even larger. The top heavy sedum can usually hold the huge flower up on the thick stock, but occasionally the flower bows to the ground or the stalk may even break.

Weak stems are the result of overly rich soil. Sedum plants are tolerant of poor growing conditions and even thrive in sandy or gritty medium. Rich and soggy soils will cause the stems to bend and you will see your sedums falling over. To prevent this, you should mix in some sand to the site soil prior to planting the succulents.

Sedums planted in low light areas may also grow spindly stems as the plant stretches for the sun. Ensure that these succulents get full sun exposure.

What to Do if Sedums are Too Heavy

Those big beautiful heads may get nodding due to a variety of conditions. You can move the plant in fall to a more suitable location or amend the soil. The short term solution is to stake the plant so the stem has support. Sedum flowers make interesting architectural additions to the winter garden and can be left on the plant until spring. They dry out in fall and have a textural appeal.

Older plants respond well to division. Dig up the entire plant in the dormant season and cut the root and plant in half. Alternately, look for offsets or baby plants and pull them away from the parent plant. Once planted and established, these babies will produce quickly and better than the aged parent.

Pruning Sedum

Sedum plants respond well to pruning and tend to form a bushier plant in the next burst of spring growth. Use sharp pruners or garden shears to take the stems back to within an inch (2.5 cm) of the soil in early spring. Take care to avoid the new growth that is coming up.

Pinching will enforce bushier plants. Pinch off the new growth near the soil and it will form a more compact stem and thicker growth.

Pruning sedum succulents that are growing in low light conditions may help them form a sturdier stem. Cut the stem back to 6 inches (15.2 cm.). You will delay any blooms, but the stalk will grow thicker and help support the flowers when they come.

In the end, if your sedums are too heavy on top, take the flower and bring it inside to enjoy as a cut bloom. They are a joy both indoors and out.

This article was last updated on

My Autumn Joy sedum keep dying in this spotHelp!

For the last three years, I've had this same problem with Autumn Joy. I started with six good plants and planted them around a new crabapple in a bed contained by a brick retaining wall. Most have done beautifully, but in the center area, the plants keep dying from the crown out. I replaced the one that I lost, and it died of the same thing. This year I hadn't gotten around to replacing it, although I did just purchase one (the pot tipped over). Now more are dying. Grrrr!

They looked great just a few weeks ago. We did get a lot of rain last week, but it was pretty dry before that. The stems get pale at the base until they eventually fall over and can be pulled out without disturbing the rest of the plant. At first I thought maybe it was a drainage problem, since we didn't put any drains in the retaining wall.

Any ideas what's causing this? I'm thinking of yanking all of them out and starting over with something else in that spot, which is pretty much full sun. If the outermost sedum don't look sick, can I divide them and put them in pots til I get a different bed prepared this fall?

Q. Autumn Joy Sedum

My autumn joy gets so big that it flops over. I've heard that you can prune it back in early July. How far back can you prune and does it recover nicely? I would like to keep them more compact.

First, make sure that it gets plenty of sun to reduce the flopping. You can also pinch plants back to keep them compact and cut them back by half in May.

Comments (9)


I hope someone answers you. Mine flopped too, except for the moonshine, which stayed very compact. I tied mine up to get it out of another plant's way. This is the second year for my plants. Last year they stayed much more compact. They are in a raised bed and the soil was amended with compost and peatmoss.

Susanzone5 (NY)

Yarrow flops. I stopped growing it. The only one that stays upright is the old fashioned, tall yellow one (forgot the name) with stiff stems. You can cut it back to the ground after flowering, and it will make some new growth. Next year, put one of those metal plant rings around it before it sends up stems. Or dig it up and throw it out like I did.

The flopping grasses need another year to get sturdy. Mine flopped too, the first year. Again, prop it up. Also, it could be rodents tunneling around the roots in the nice soft soil. like mine do.

Three perennials and how to keep them from flopping

Fading salvia flower spikes can be cut back. (Photo: Al Shay / Special to the Statesman Journal )

Many people opt out of using perennials because of the maintenance involved in perpetuating them. The thought of doing any more than simply cutting the spent foliage to the ground in winter is repulsive.

I suppose there always is something more meaningful to do such as Facebook or Twitter. If that’s true for you, the following factoids probably are of little interest to you, but fear not, at some point, I’ll examine trouble-free perennials. Right now, I want to examine some of the simple remedies that can be utilized to enable you to enjoy a better perennial display throughout the summer.

A challenge for many perennials is that they flop over or open up in the center. Let’s look at a few plants and how to eliminate this issue.

1 Sedum (Hylotelephium telephium) x ‘Autumn Joy’ is a herbaceous perennial that’s found in almost everyone’s yard. It is tough and resilient and puts on a wonderful later-summer/early-fall showing. The spent flower heads are awesome, late-season displays, so do not deadhead these perennials. The challenge is they can open up in the center and lie on their sides. Now remember, these are drought-tolerant and fertilizer-free plants they do not enjoy rich soil and respond with rank growth. The easiest solution is to pinch or shear these plants back by half in mid-June. This will result in a shorter, free standing plant that will flower a little later.

2 Beebalm (Monarda didyma) is another common garden plant. This herbaceous perennial puts on a beautiful summer show, essentially June through July. It grows like mad through May, and this is when you can cut the plants back by a third to a half. This will result in a shorter plant with flowering beginning two to three weeks later, carrying the display into August. Be sure to choose cultivars that are mildew resistant such as ‘Marshall’s Delight,’ ‘Raspberry Wine’ or ‘Violet Queen.’

3 Perennial salvia such as Salvia nemerosa put on a brilliant show June through August. These plants can be deadheaded as soon as flowering is done by cutting back spent flower spikes to a lateral bud. At some point, the whole plant may need to be cut down to 4 inches and start over.

Watch the video: How to Prune Sedum Autumn Joy Video Tutorial.wmv


  1. Marji

    Thanks for the information, now I will know.

  2. Sedgewic

    You are absolutely right. There's something about that, and it's a great idea. I am ready to support you.

  3. Blaney

    if blown away by the wind?

  4. Guy

    It does not approach me.

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