It could be said that I seldom meet a plant I don’t like. Or as members of my household put it, “She likes too many plants!” I’m just glad the pleasure of new and interesting plants hasn’t dimmed and I can still feel enthused by a particularly lovely specimen. Such was the case when I recently encountered Cherry Tart sedum (Sedum Cherry Tart, six by 18 inches / 15 x 45 cm, Zone 5), which really knocked my socks off.
This groundcover sedum is part of the Sunsparkler Series recently developed by plant breeder Chris Hansen in his Michigan trial gardens. Cherry Tart has tight rosettes of succulent, mat-forming, deep burgundy leaves with large cerise-pink flower clusters held above the foliage. I saw the plant in full bloom, and the combined colour of foliage and flowers was entirely compelling, and I absolutely had to have two pots.
Cherry Tart looks like a highly evolved hybrid with a long breeding history. The three cultivars in the Sparkler Series of sedums were field tested for almost a decade, and the final three selections were culled from 4,000 seedlings. Cherry Tart has such style, colour and distinctive form that it stands out from other groundcover sedums, and was certainly worth the years of work. If I had to guess, perhaps Sedum glaucophyllum and S. spathulifolium, both low mats of red-tinged foliage, might be lurking somewhere in Cherry Tart’s breeding program. But that’s only a guess, and I really don’t need to know the plant’s lineage to know I like it.
Cherry Tart spreads out in a dense mat of foliage that gracefully covers flat ground; it could also cascade down a slope. What I especially like is that it’s slightly taller than other mat-forming sedums, with flower heads held above the leaves. My two pots will go by the front steps to soften the sharp sides of the rough rock slabs and swell around small pink and green boulders nearby. I have a clump of gentians there, and their electric blue will be a perfect complement to the dark burgundy sedum.
The Sparkler Series also includes Dazzleberry, with smoky blue-grey foliage and huge, nine-inch (23-cm) heads of raspberry flowers, and Lime Zinger, with lime-green leaves edged with cherry red and soft pink flower heads. These sedums need regular watering their first season until established, but thereafter are drought tolerant and resilient in summer heat. They’ll take full sun to part shade, and the best flowering comes with brighter light. For a vigorous and neat appearance, remove old foliage in spring before new growth begins.