Sedums are sun lovers that grow best in lean, dry, fast-draining soils. Don’t even think about fertilizing them; they thrive on neglect.

Plant breeder Chris Hansen from the west side of Michigan has developed a colorful series of hardy groundcover Sedum that provide fabulous seasonlong color from spring through fall. From glaucous blue gray to a rich deep burgundy, the foliage provides a colorful carpet in areas where grass and greenies often fail to thrive. But flowers are also a part of the mix and they provide up to seven weeks of outstanding floral displays later in the season when much of the big perennial parade of blooms has passed by. Butterflies love them. These beauties are perfect for use in rockeries and rooftop gardens, as well as containers and hellish strips where the sun beats most garden plants to death.

To take a look at all the varieties in the Sunsparkler series and see creative and stunning ways to use them, visit their website at

Another Chris Hansen innovation is the introduction of a dozen named varieties of collectable Hens and Chicks, sold under the brand name of Chick Charms.

Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum) were staples in gardens years ago and favorites of kids because the mother plant, usually a 3- to 5-inch rosette — the “hen” — reproduced by growing tiny babies — the “chicks” — that surrounded Mom. Hardy to Zone 3, you could expand your brood from year to year by picking off the baby chicks and sticking them in damp soil. Over time. the little guys would grow to “hen” size and produce their own bunch of chicks. Grandmothers often passed on plants to their children and grandchildren so they could start their own brood.

Hens and Chicks are dear to Hansen’s heart. At just 5 years old, that was just how he began his first garden and his love of plants. Chris has more than 450 varieties and he has selected the top 12 to introduce his under his new brand Chick Charms. You can check them out on their Facebook page under Chick Charms/Facebook.

Just like Sedum and other succulents, these hardy souls thrive on neglect, which is why they also got the nickname of live forever plants. All that is needed is a patch of lean soil and six or more hours of full sun. If they look a bit punkie in the garden center, it’s likely they have been over-watered and fertilized.

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and a Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question, go to and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at

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