Autumn Joy Sedum Care: How to Grow and Maintain the Stonecrop

Autumn Joy (Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude’) are popular plants for fall gardens. These cold-tolerant perennials were once classified as sedum and are still often regarded as one but they now belong to Hylotelephium, a small genus comprising about 33 species.

Hylotelephium plants are native to Asia, Europe, and North America. They make excellent plants for mixed borders, rock gardens, and other styles of landscapes. They are commonly called stonecrops because in the wild they grow on rocks and stony ledges. 

Other popular varieties of stonecrop to add to your landscape include the autumn Fire, Autumn charm, Sedum ‘Mr. Goodbud, Ruby glow, and Sedum spectabile ‘Iceberg’. They all blast in beautiful blooms in Autumn when other plants are bowing out.

Autumn Joy sedum care

Autumn Joy stonecrop features

Autumn Joy has grayish-green, fleshy, rounded, succulent-like leaves. They bloom in late summer to fall with pink star-like flowers, highly attractive to butterflies and other pollinators. The flowers gradually change to deep rose-red and then to rust in autumn as they fade away.

These plants have a moderate growth rate and will reach their mature size, 1.5–2 ft. within a year. After the first heavy frost, their foliage and remains of the dead flower heads persist well into the winter creating a beautiful accent in the landscape.

You may cut down the foliage in the late fall but I like it done in spring before a new growth begins. This gives birds an opportunity to enjoy the dried flower heads during the winter. Here is a summary of what to know about Autumn Joy sedum.

Common namesAutumn joy sedum, stonecrop
Botanical nameHylotelephium herbstfreude
Mature Size1.5 – 2ft. tall and wide
Sun exposureFull (6 – 8 hours)
Soil typeWell-drained with neutral to alkaline pH
Bloom timeLate summer to fall
Flower colorPink to red
Hardiness zonesZones 4-10 (USDA)
ToxicityLess hazardous to pets and humans

Autumn Joy Sedum Care

Stonecrops are the easiest plants to grow and maintain. They can be grown in containers or in raised gardens with other companion plants. They are best planted in spring when all the frost is gone and before the hot weather of summer sets in. Here is what’s needed to grow stonecrop.

Soil type

Autumn Joy thrives in neutral to alkaline sandy soil with sharp drainage. The soil can range from loam to silt as long as it’s not retaining excess water. Damp soil conditions can cause root rot and other fungal problems. You may add some pebbles to your potting soil to improve drainage.

Light requirements

Stonecrops are full sun plants and you must provide them with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. The plant may grow leggy when light is not sufficient. However, during the hot summer, the plant may appreciate some shade in the afternoon hours.


Autumn Joy sedum can hold up well in drought conditions. This plant stores water in its succulent leaves and thus needs less watering. Overwatering can cause root rot, so watering should be done when the soil is completely dry. Probably once every two weeks even in the heat of summer.

Temperature and humidity

The Autumn Joy can survive a range of temperatures, from hot to cold. This plant keeps thriving in the initial days of cold winter but dies back when heavy frost sets in. Humidity either isn’t a great concern to the health of this plant as long as the soil is draining well.


Stonecrops aren’t heavy feeders, so fertilizing is not necessary. Plants in poor soil can benefit from a light application of a balanced fertilizer during the spring. The Autumn Joy stonecrop can become leggy when overfertilized or fail to bloom.


Autumn Joy stonecrop may need pruning to keep the plant in shape. Remove damaged or diseased stems to promote healthy blooming. Pruning can also allow maximum sunlight to reach the stems, which helps in keeping the plant from getting leggy.

Autumn Joy stonecrop propagation

How to propagate Autumn Joy stonecrop

The Autumn Joy is a cultivated variety, which makes it difficult to reproduce the plant by seed. Even if it works, you may end up wasting a lot of time and the resultant plants may not resemble the parent plant. The easiest way to propagate stonecrop is through stem cuttings or division.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Using a clean, sharp knife or pruners, obtain a stem cutting 4 – 6 inches long, from a healthy plant.
  2. Place the cutting in a cool place for a day or two so that the cut end can callus over.
  3. Insert the cutting in a pot filled with potting mix, water it, and place the pot in a place that receives bright indirect light.
  4. Under proper conditions, the Autumn Joy stem cutting should root in 3 to 4 weeks and you can now transplant it to your preferred location.

The Autumn Joy can also be propagated by dividing the plant into small sections, which are then planted individually. In the spring, water the plant thoroughly for a couple of days and use a spade to dig around the crown. Using your hands, lift the entire clump from the soil.

Use a spade to divide the clump into sections without damaging the roots. Replant the new divisions in well-draining soil and water thoroughly. In the right conditions of growth, the new plants should be established in two to three weeks.

Common problems with Autumn Joy sedum

Autumn Joy sedum is resistant to most garden pests and diseases. However, scale, mealybugs, slugs, aphids, nematodes, and weevils may attack the plant and cause damage to the fleshy leaves. These pests can largely be controlled with neem oil or insecticidal soap.

Some animals also enjoy eating the plant including rabbits, deer, and birds. Most diseases that affect stonecrop are commonly related to imbalanced watering. They include root rot, powdery mildew, rust, blight, and leaf spots. These conditions may cause leaves to fall off or turn yellow.

To keep the Autumn of Joy sedum healthy, maintain a well-draining soil, water less, and provide plenty of sun exposure. Additionally, inspect the plant regularly for pests and treat as needed. Under the right care, your plant will keep rewarding with beautiful blooms in the fall.

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