Ask a Question forum: Planting bare root red sedum ordered from catalog.

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Jul 7, 2016 1:22 PM CST
We have a corner of the yard that is hard to grow anything but weeds and bindweed. Ordered plants and they were shipped bare root. We tilled the area several times and covered the entire area with black plastic in hopes of slowing down the weed and bindweed growth. We cut holes in the black plastic and planted each sedum plant. The instructions weren't very plain and I planted them deeper than what you told another gardener to plant them. Do you think they will still come up and if so can you possibly give me a timeframe or are they likely to just rot in the ground? Also if possible can you refer me to a site that shows an image of the plant when it first emerges?

Mary Smith
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL ๐ŸŒต๐ŸŒทโš˜๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒป (Zone 8b)
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Jul 7, 2016 2:45 PM CST
Hi & welcome! Sedum roots reliably without any roots at all, so taking root shouldn't be a problem. Are you able to show a pic of one of the plants you got? I don't think I've heard Sedums referred to as "bare root" before.

But few plants would enjoy baking on black plastic.

I also fear the roots of the weeds under it aren't dead (bindweed isn't that easy to kill, a smothering could take a year or more, and tilling increases the number of plants because it can grow from pieces of root.) If bindweed has dropped seeds in the past, which it does copiously, surely some will be near holes that have been poked.

I would strongly encourage you to replace the plastic with corrugated cardboard, overlapping the seams very generously, then covering that with at least 6" of organic matter* to completely block the light and provide enough weight so that growth can't occur under it. This will not need to be removed later, will add tilth and fertility to soil, and help moderate soil temps and moisture levels, as well as cultivating a healthy crop of soil microbes and other soil dwellers like earth worms. Leaving it undisturbed except for the holes you'll eventually dig to add plants later will also prevent whatever seeds that have fallen in the area over the years from being able to sprout (except those few that get shifted to the surface while you're adding plants.)

Is your Sedum 'Red Dragon?' If so, it's a ground cover/low creeper, it should be able to take off right on the surface of the smother, as long as the top layer isn't too chunky/bumpy.

Organic matter = compost (already fairly decomposed organic matter) &/or anything that can decompose, like mulch, leaves, pine straw, coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, poo, grass from mower bag (you'd want to mow before grass is showing seed heads if doing that,) small yard trimmings, shredded paper or bark, etc... the more of a mix, the better, vs. just inches of 1 thing.
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
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Jul 7, 2016 9:21 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, @MaryBud !

Your plants did have some tops as well as the roots, right? I think planting sedum a little deep is fine, they will just sprout more roots on the stems. I don't seem to be able to kill my hardy sedums no matter what, so I think yours will likely be fine!
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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Jul 7, 2016 9:30 PM CST
Black plastic?? Ahhhgggg.....!! Crying

Get rid of that FAST! It will sufficate your plants and sour your soil. I hate that stuff! Grumbling

Sedum doesn't need roots but it does need rooting space. That black plastic is going to keep it from doing what it does - creep by underground shoots.

You don't say where you are but sedum are one of those plants that do well in bad situations. I planted some last summer from a six-pac from Home Depot. This summer, I am going to have to move/remove about half of them. Each of my 6 little cells have expanded into areas about 2 ft x 2 ft. But they needed to be able to grow out. A slit in black plastic will not do it (in so many ways).
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost


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