Hylotelephium telephium 'Purple Emperor', formerly known as Sedum telephium 'Purple Emperor', grows up to 15 inches (37.5 cm) tall and spreads up to 23 inches (57.5 cm) wide in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 9. The deep purple leaves are almost black, and the plant produces small salmon-pink summer flowers for a show of contrasting color.
H. telephium 'Purple Emperor' grows best in full sun exposure areas. In hot microclimates, this plant tolerates partial shady conditions. Well-draining soil is required for this plant, which does not tolerate wet roots. This plant works well tucked into soil pockets on stone piles in rock gardens. It is also suitable to grow in containers.
The best time to plant H. telephium 'Purple Emperor' is spring. Place the root ball in good-draining soil so that the top of the root ball is level with the ground. Spacing for this succulent is between 6 and 24 inches (15 and 60 cm). Plant closer together to speed up the time it takes to cover an area.
This succulent benefits from a couple of inches of wood chip or shredded bark mulch. Mulching reduces weed growth and moisture loss from evaporation. Keep the mulch 2 inches (5 cm) from the plant stems to prevent stem rot. In rainy areas, use small pebbles as mulch. This reduces the water-retaining properties of the mulch.
This succulent prefers dry conditions and only needs occasional watering once established. Soak the soil heavily right after planting and then again before the cold weather occurs. Once the extensive root system develops, let the soil dry out between watering.
H. telephium 'Purple Emperor' does not require many nutrients. Therefore, do not over-feed the plant. Just a handful of 10-10-10 all-purpose granular fertilizer scratched into the top of the soil every other year provides enough nutrients for a healthy plant.
One problem that H. telephium 'Purple Emperor' develops when overwatered is heavy flower heads on weak stems. To solve this problem, cut the flower stems back by a third of their length before the flower heads form. This causes the plant to grow shorter, stronger stems. Otherwise, the only pruning this plant needs are removing old stems and leaves when new foliage appears.
H. telephium 'Purple Emperor' needs are dividing every 2 to 3 years in the early spring. Lift the plant out of the ground with a shovel and pull the clump into separate plants. Replant the original plant, and then plant the new succulent in a new location.
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