By: Liz Baessler
The Purple Emperor sedum (Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’) is a tough but beautiful perennial plant that produces stunning deep purple leaves and bunches of tiny light pink flowers. It’s a great choice for cut flowers and garden borders alike. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow Purple Emperor stonecrop plants.
Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’ is a hybrid stonecrop plant bred for the striking color of its foliage and flowers. It grows upright with a height of 12 to 15 inches (30-38 cm.) and spreads slightly, with a width of 12 to 24 inches (30-61 cm.). The leaves are slightly fleshy and deep purple in color, sometimes appearing almost black.
In midsummer, the plant puts out clusters of tiny light pink flowers on top of single stems. As the flowers open and flatten, they form flower heads measuring 5 to 6 inches (12-15 cm.) across. They are very attractive to pollinators, like butterflies and bees.
Flowers fade in autumn, but the foliage will remain and provide winter interest. Old foliage should be pruned away in the spring to make way for new growth.
Growing Purple Emperor sedum plants is very easy. Sedums, also known as stonecrops, are famously tough plants, earning their name from their habit of growing in the poor soil in between rocks and stones.
Purple Emperor plants do best in poor, but well-draining, sandy to rocky soil. If they grow in soil that is too fertile, they will put out too much growth and become weak and floppy.
They like full sun and moderate water. In their first year of growth, they should be watered more to encourage the growth of a strong root system.
These plants look good in garden borders, but they also perform well grown in containers. Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’ plants are hardy perennials in USDA zones 3-9.
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|Family:||Crassulaceae (krass-yoo-LAY-see-ee) (Info)|
|Genus:||Hylotelephium (hy-loh-te-LEE-fee-um) (Info)|
|Species:||telephium subsp. telephium|
|Additional cultivar information:||(aka Washfield Purple, Washfield Ruby)|
Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
From herbaceous stem cuttings
Allow cut surface to callous over before planting
This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Mooresville, North Carolina
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Lake Forest Park, Washington
On May 5, 2020, swindenver from Denver, CO wrote:
I've grown these for a couple of years. The color is brilliant however, I planned on their being upright. Like others, I found them to be the floppiest stonecrops I've ever grown. I'm also rather confused because they are included in the ground cover category on this site, but I suppose stonecrops could be ground covers, if they ramble. Am I missing something?
On Dec 6, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:
The rich dark maroon color of the foliage and stems is extraordinary in the garden. I find the flowers less valuable than the striking foliage.
But this is the floppiest tall sedum that I know. The stems will splay out and flop unless supported in some way.
On Feb 28, 2012, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:
A nicely, dark colored Sedum. Blooms August-September in my garden.
On Sep 3, 2009, floating_stump from Grafton, WI wrote:
It starts out purplish green, and gets darker as the summer progresses. The flowers are a lighter, pinkish tone than the leaves. The bees love it, especially the bumbles. It blooms in late august, a little earlier than my other light-green-with-pink-blossoms sedum. It self-seeds, but after a summer, the seedlings have grown to less than two inches tall, so I'm not sure it's worth trying to cultivate any. As others have mentioned, it flops over. Mine opens up in the middle, and the branches flop about halfway down. I'm a little unhappy about this, since I deliberately planted it where I could see it from the house in the winter. Next year I'm going to just put some string around the outside of the plant. I give it a lot of water.
On Nov 17, 2007, kd2000 from toronto,
Similar to other's comments I have not had great luck with this plant, it splays open in the middle despite pinching in the spring and division. It is a fabulous colour, but unlike my other showy sedums (white, autumn joy) it does not seem to be able to stay erect.
On Aug 3, 2007, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:
Received the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), 2006 Award of Garden Merit.
On Oct 22, 2006, Lady_fern from Jeffersonville, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:
Like "Autumn Joy" and "Frosty Morn" this sedum is best grown through a support to keep it upright. Cattle fencing works well because it is green and can easily be cut to size. The purple foliage is always attractive and is a nice focal point.
On Jul 24, 2006, saya from Heerlen,
Netherlands (Zone 8b) wrote:
In my opinion strong and healthy. For a long time the darkest sedum. Found by Grahaham Cough from plant nursery Washfield, Hawkhurst - Kent.
On May 11, 2006, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:
Mine are now two years old, and suffered from benign neglect, then frequent transplanting until last year. This spring, they've rebounded and filled out very nicely, with gorgeous coloration. I'm hoping they'll do really well in their (now permanent) home!
On Mar 31, 2006, rshepherd from Grass Lake, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:
I have 3 of these plants and grow them in full sun. I love the foliage, which is beautiful red purple color. All 3 spray out in the middle which is a disappointment to me (maybe thats why it is advertised as ground cover). This spring I have cut off all dead plant material and will pinch them back in intervals throughout the growing season to see what happens. I want to see if I can encourage this plant to grow more upright than on the ground.
On Feb 1, 2006, sharonmi from Westland, MI (Zone 6a) wrote:
I've only had them for two years, but so far they are a disappointment. They all splayed out in the middle, and the foilage got kinda crispy looking. I will pinch them back hard this spring, maybe that will improve their appearance.