Sedum multiceps Coss. & Durieu

Sedum multiceps is a delightful multi-branched miniature which bears small tufts of succulent rosettes on spreading brown branches (Fig. 1), hence the popular name of mini-Joshua Tree.  Small cuttings grow upright but soon spread outwards, then downwards over the pot sides (Fig. 2).  The species is native to rocky areas in Algeria, with winter rainfall and much dryer summers.

I water moderately in summer and autumn and a little throughout winter.  Water is increased in spring when the plant grows strongly, with each head extending outwards so the new growth of stems is covered with the overlapping green scale-like leaves (Fig. 3).  In June many of the heads develop into branching inflorescences with several vivid yellow, star-shaped flowers (Fig. 4).  The plant may seem to sulk a bit after flowering and into autumn, with growth stopping, stems lose some leaves and the heads form into small, tight balls.  The plant may even shed branches.  Resist the temptation to overwater in response to this – unless the plant produces an autumn growth spurt, and go easy with the watering can until growth resumes in spring.

I have found the species to be quite cold resistant.  It is untroubled with a few degrees of frost in an unheated greenhouse, even with damp roots during the colder spells of winter.  The habitat extends from near sea level to at least moderate altitudes, where winter snow can occur, so it is possible that some clones are more cold-resistant than others.

I use a largely mineral potting mix for the species, but it has also seemed happy in open, free-draining organic mixes.  Propagation is easy from cuttings, including branches which the plant may shed voluntarily.

Sedum multiceps Coss. & Durieu. Bull. Soc. Bot. France 9: 171 (1862)

Text and photos: Edward Shaw

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