Autumn Joy Stonecrop
They call it ‘Autumn Joy’, but it’s a pleasure all year-round! Of course, fall is when it really struts—the blooms turning rosy-pink and then coppery-red. Winter looks good on it, too, especially when snow piles up on the platforms made by the spent flowers. Spring brings joyful impatience for warmer days—Autumn Joy is one of the first Spirits to leaf out! In summer, the plant has a sculptural quality, like a bonsai tree or a bunch of broccoli. Plant this star at the front of your entryway garden, foundation beds, or mixed border, where it will shine in all seasons.
Gardeners around the world have cherished Autumn Joy Stonecrop for decades. This classic Spirit goes back to 1952 to be precise. Autumn Joy is a hybrid between an Asian Stonecrop known as the Showy Stonecrop and a European/Asian species enigmatically called “Witch’s Moneybags.” German nurseryman Georg Arends put the two species together. Arends is best known for his extensive breeding work with Astilbes, although this plant is arguably his most popular contribution to the gardening world. You may also find Autumn Joy under its original German name, ‘Herbstfreude’.
If you love butterflies, then you need Autumn Joy Stonecrop! Monarchs, buckeyes, and painted ladies especially are drawn to its dazzling flowers and the nectar they contain. In fact, pollinators of all stripes are crazy about Autumn Joy and will contentedly work over the blossoms all day long.
How to Grow
They don’t call it Live-Forever for nothing! Autumn Joy Stonecrop, a.k.a. Live-Forever, is about as easy to grow as they come. Simply site it in a sunny, open space in soil that drains well. The two things it won’t abide are deep shade and soggy soil. Leave the spent stems standing for winter interest, cutting them down when they begin to look unsightly. Spring growth starts early, so don’t wait too long to cut the stems back. Aphids may occasionally strike Autumn Joy, but they usually disappear before doing much damage. Ladybugs and other natural predators will most likely take care of the pests before you feel the need to intervene.
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