SEDGE

FAMILY: Cyperaceae | GENUS: CAREX

TYPE
  • Perennials
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Partial Shade
WATER
  • Varies by Species
PLANTING ZONES
  • US (Upper South) / Zone 6
  • MS (Middle South) / Zone 7
  • LS (Lower South) / Zone 8
  • CS (Coastal South) / Zone 9

Plant Details

Gardeners may think of the sedges as ornamental grasses, but in fact they belong to an entirely different plant family. Found worldwide, they form clumping tufts of gracefully arching, grasslike foliage. The long, narrow evergreen leaves are often striped or oddly colored. Flowers are generally insignificant. Use sedges in borders, contain- ers, rock gardens, and water gardens. Although they are commonly recommended for moist soils, many will grow in relatively dry soils.

C. buchananii. LEATHER LEAF SEDGE. From New Zealand. Curly-tipped, arching, 2- to 3-ft.-long blades make striking reddish bronze clumps 2212 ft. wide. Use with gray foliage or with deep greens. Moderate water.

C. comans. NEW ZEALAND HAIR SEDGE. Dense, fine-textured clumps of narrow, silvery green foliage. Leaves are usually 1 ft. long but may reach 6 ft.; on slopes, they look like flowing water. 'Bronze' is similar but has coppery brown leaves. 'Frosted Curls', sometimes sold as C. albula, has silvery foliage with twisted tips and bronze highlights. Moderate water.

C. elata 'Aurea' ('Bowles' Golden'). Selection of a European native. Clump to 212 ft. high, 112 ft. wide, with leaves that emerge bright yellow in spring and hold some color until late summer. Needs ample moisture; will grow in a water garden.

C. flacca (C. glauca). BLUE SEDGE. From Europe. Creeping perennial with blue-gray, grasslike foliage that ranges from 6 in. to 2 ft. tall and wide. Evergreen only in mildest climates. Tolerant of many soils and irrigation schemes. Not invasive; spreads slowly and can be clipped like a lawn. Endures light foot traffic, moderate shade, competition with tree roots. Does best with moderate water.

C. morrowii. Green-leafed Japanese species known for its variegated forms. All take regular water. 'Variegata' is a name given to many selections with white leaf edges. Forms a clump 1 ft. high, 112 ft. wide, with fairly coarse (12-in.-wide) leaves. 'Fisher's Form' is similar but has creamy yellow leaf margins. Both of these make good edging plants; individual clumps look great among rocks. 'Ice Dance' has more prominent white leaf borders than 'Variegata' and a spreading habit; it forms a carpet 23 ft. wide. Although it increases by rhizomes, it's not invasive. 'Silver Sceptre' has white-edged leaves about 14 in. wide. It is somewhat spreading but does not cover ground as fast as 'Ice Dance'. Fine-textured, very narrow (18-in.) leaves, dark green with a white center, give C. m. temnolepis 'Silk Tassel' its delicate, airy look. It spreads about 2 ft. wide.

C. muskingumensis. PALM SEDGE. From North America. The basic species, to 2 ft. tall and spreading widely by rhizomes, has tapered green leaves radiating from lax stems, creating the effect of small, feathery palms. 'Little Midge', to 10 in. high, is miniature in all its parts. Leaves of 'Oehme' are solid green when new, but they quickly develop yellow margins. Regular water.

C. oshimensis. JAPANESE SEDGE. 'Evergold' is a variegated selection of a Japanese native. Clumping growth to 12 ft. high, 23 ft. wide. Dark green leaves have a broad central band of creamy white. Needs partial to full shade and regular water. 'Everillo' almost radiates light from its lime-green leaves. Grows 112 ft. tall and wide.

C. pensylvanica. PENNSYLVANIA SEDGE. Zones US, MS; USDA 6-7. Native from Canada to the Middle South. This is a soft, fine-textured grass for the shade garden standing about 6 in. tall and wide, spreading slowly by rhizomes to make a welcome ground cover under deciduous trees. Commonly associated with oaks. If needed, divide plants to spread more rapidly. Tolerant of moist soil, as well as dry shade. Will take part sun in the cooler zones. Deer resistant.

C. texensis. TEXAS SEDGE, CATLIN SEDGE. Southwestern native. Fine-textured, mat-forming sedge to 46 in. high. Medium green, drooping leaves form a wavy carpet dotted by lax flowering stems. Excellent small-scale lawn substitute or ground cover; often used in meadow mixes. Trim to remove seed heads. Needs partial to full shade and regular water.

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