Sedum is a reliable fall food source for foraging butterflies

butterflies on sedum by Candace Hart

A few years back, Illinois gardeners learned that there is more to monarch decline than a lack of milkweed to support larvae, or habitat destruction in their overwintering home. Another contributing factor is a lack of floral resources for adult monarch butterflies to make the journey in the fall. University of Illinois Extension pushed a campaign to plant more of these fall bloomers.

Last week I wrote about solidago, and the week before Brittnay wrote about asters, two plants that are ideal for providing late-season nectar sources to monarchs traveling through Illinois. Along with these two outstanding fall bloomers, I suggest planting one of the many sedums.

These succulent fall-bloomers are enjoyed by all of the neighborhood nectar-seekers. Gardeners love sedums because they are reliable and virtually care free. Although, I have seen sedums that are full of blooms grown in full shade, they prefer a little more sun or they may lose their ability to stand on their own. Sedums are drought tolerant after the first year of planting. There are upright sedums and low growing ground-cover sedums. There is a sedum for practically any bare spot in the garden and will please monarchs, pollinators, and gardeners in the fall.


  • Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’: Classic, upright, boastful pink blooms that turns bronze-red as the season progresses. Starts blooming in September and continues to August.
  • Hylotelephium spectabile ‘Neon’: Like ‘Autumn Joy’ but has more vivid pink blooms and blooms longer.
  • Sedum telphium ‘Matrona’: Like ‘Autumn Joy’ but has lighter pink flowers, blooms longer and has a purple-red stem.
  • ‘Purple Emperor’: Like ‘Autumn Joy’ but blooms earlier and has dark purple foliage.
  • Sedum erythrostictum 'Frosty Morn': Like ‘Autumn Joy’ but grows shorter, blooms white or light pink on variegated foliage
  • Sedum ‘Peach Pearls’: New to the industry, with rose-gold flowers on burgundy foliage

Ground Cover

  • Sedum spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’: Low growing, leaves have a tinge of color throughout the summer, but as fall nears they turn bright red; tiny pink flowers bloom in late summer to early fall
  • Sedum 'Dazzleberry': Low growing, leaves are blue-green with large raspberry colored flowers in late summer and early fall
  • Sedum 'Lime Zinger': Low growing, lime green leaves outlined in red, with pink flowers in late summer
  • Sedum 'Thundercloud': Low growing, gray green leaves with massive clusters of white flowers
  • Sedum 'Boogie Woogie': Low growing, green leaves with cream margins, yellow flowers in late summer
  • Sedum ‘Marina’: Low growing, vibrant blue leaves, cluster of pink flowers in late summer