A funny thing happened on the way to May: I have what looks to be a million tiny yellow flowers. It happens every year for about four to six weeks, but no one talks about it. Some even look away.
Lemon Coral sedum was the 2019 Proven Winners Annual of the Year, yet I don't remember flowers being mentioned. While I am at it, I will add, I have never had one die, either. The truth (or caveat) to that is I have lived my whole horticultural life in zones 7b-10 — in other words, fairly mild to warm climates.
When it comes to Lemon Coral, we all love the soft succulent needle-like foliage so much we almost confess apologetically and tell our friends and neighbors, "Oh, that is the sedum blooming." Proven Winners now says if you are lucky, you may get some blooms. Every year The Garden Guy gets a million yellow blooms and I am not the only one. We aren't embarrassed, let's celebrate it! I can even see some town having a Lemon Coral Flower Festival.
Look at it from another perspective. We partner the luxurious chartreuse foliage with our favorite colors of Supertunia petunias, Superbena verbenas or Superbells calibrachoas, and we love it. But then in April and May, it gives way to an explosion of yellow flowers, welcoming spring and creating stunning combinations.
After the bloom cycle, we give it a trim or cut it back, probably to the delight of the companions. Give it a little shot of fertilizer and we're off for the long, hot summer. When the weather crosses over from hot to oppressive, this little sedum from Mexico (Sedum mexicanum) is like a living layer of mulch, keeping roots cooler and tough as nails when it comes to water needs.
Wherever I have planted the lime green, soft, succulent, needle-like foliage becomes a "look at me" beacon in the landscape. Its habit is mounding, compact and will compete on your list of toughest plants you have ever grown, reaching 10 inches tall with a 14-inch spread.
Lemon Coral sedum will be a rock-solid perennial in zones 7-11 and among the best buys for your garden dollar when bought as an annual in zones 6 and colder. (Arkansas is in zones 6b to 8a.) Lemon Coral also makes a great container mix for other succulents grown indoors. Those flowers we sometimes embarrassingly accept outdoors in the landscape and mixed containers may surprise you with a pollinator or two.
Although I am touting them as an obvious choice for the landscape when the heat is on, they are perfect pansy pals for the winter in zones 7 and warmer. Whether you plant a cool season container, one for the scorching weather that lies ahead, or in the landscape, the soil must drain freely, as soggy soil usually proves fatal. Planting in containers is much the same as planting in the landscape. Place all your plants with the top of the root ball, even with the soil line.
Lemon Coral sedum has won almost 20 honors, including Top Performer Awards in Michigan and Wisconsin to Perfect Score all Season at Penn State. Those trials are in the north where it is an annual, but it is outstanding in the South, where it won in the heat and high humidity at Mississippi State. Love the foliage but celebrate the flowers too with Lemon Coral sedum.
Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of "Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South" and "Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden."