Hylotelephium spectabile

Hylotelephium spectabile “Brilliant” – Showy Stonecrop

Individual star-shaped pink flowers are borne in flat cymes that make a wonderful show in early autumn.


A vigorous herbaceous succulent that grows to 40cm in the Stonecrop family (Crassulaceae). The flat, open flower heads make this a favourite with bees and butterflies. It will tend to flop if left to crow to its full height, in which case it will benefit from some support. The plant pictured above has been given the “Chelsea Chop”. The old stems are usually left on over winter, for architectural interest, but they do need to be cut down before the new buds start to grow in early spring.


H spectabile comes from China and Korea. It was known, and may be still best known as, Sedum spectabile “Brilliant” before the systematic botanists had their way. A couple of other varieties of H. spectabile do exist, but “Brilliant” holds an Award of garden Merit (AGM) from the UK Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). It is altogether a brighter colour than the more commonly grown “Autumn Joy” (Herbstfreude).

Soil / Aspect:

H. spectabile is best grown in full sun, for at least part of the day, and well drained soils. Though it will peaceably tolerate poor soils it does flower best in richer soil or with some feeding.


Sedums are famous for thriving on neglect! They do require good drainage over winter, otherwise they are prone to root rot. To prevent them “over-growing” and falling apart late in the season, they do best when given the “Chelsea Chop”. This is the procedure whereby the leading six inches of each shoot, including any nascent flower buds, are cut off in late spring. In the northern hemisphere this would typically be done around the time of the RHS Chelsea flower show in late May, which equates to early November in Karin’s Garden.