Sedges such as Leatherleaf sedge, Birdfoot sedge, Bowles’ Golden sedge, and Carex glauca sedge are great ornamental grasses. Get facts and information on growing and caring for sedges: Leatherleaf, Birdfoot, Bowles' Golden and Carex glauca sedge varieties.
Carex buchananii, LEATHERLEAF SEDGE
Leatherleaf Sedge, Carex buchananii, has copper-brown foliage all season long. It grows in Zones 7-9 with sizes of 18-24” x 24” w. It is a native of New Zealand. Leatherleaf sedge is a perennial, clumping sedge with a fine texture. Leatherleaf sedge thrives in a sunny place in any soil that is moist but well drained. Its unique foliage color invites comment. Yellow-flowered perennials such as ‘Moonbeam’ threadleaf tickweed (Coreopsis verticullata) or goldenstar (Chrysogonum virginianum) makes excellent companion plants. The bright green of low-growing mazus (Mazus reptens) will highlight the unusual coloring of leatherleaf sedge.
Uses: Ground cover, specimen, accent
Care: A good trimming of tattered, old-looking foliage in spring will rejuvenate the clump. Feed with a slow-release fertilizer in early spring.
Propagation: Divide in early spring or start new plants from seed.
Pests and Diseases: leatherleaf sedge is generally free of pests.
Related Species: Dwarf brown New Zealand sedge ( C. Petriei) grows only 8” tall, resembling a tiny leatherleaf sedge.
Carex conica, BIRDFOOT SEDGE
Birdfoot sedge, Carex conica, also known as hime kan suge, has fine green and white foliage. It grows in Zones 5-9 and grows 8-15”h x 12-18”w. It also is a clumping, perennial sedge. Birdfoot sedge has a mounding form, fine texture and slow growing. Place birdfoot sedge in light shade in rich, moist soil at the edge of a border where it will not be overwhelmed by taller plants. It is superb in combination with Japanese painted fern (Athyrium nipponicum ‘Pictum’) which shares its coloring.
Care: Enrich the soil around this plant with compost. Mulch to retain moisture. Trim away winter-damaged foliage in early spring before new growth emerges.
Propagation: Divide in spring.
Pests and diseases are not a problem with this plant.
Related species: ‘Snowline’ and ‘Variegata’ are synonyms for C. Conica ‘Marginata’.
Carex elata, BOWLES’ GOLDEN SEDGE
Bowles’ Golden sedge, Carex elata, brings a spot of gold into the garden. It is also known as tufted sedge or European tussock sedge. This sedge plant grows in Zones 5-9 and will grow 2’h x 2-3’ w. Bowles' golden sedge is a cool-season clumping semi-evergreen sedge. It has a vase form and medium texture.
Place Bowles’ sedge in at least a half day of sun for the best color. This sedge will survive in standing water. It is striking when massed in the saturated soil of a river or pond edge.
Uses: Waterside, water garden, ground cover.
Care: Provide acid soil and constant moisture. Protect it from hot, drying winds. Cut back unsightly foliage to promote fresh new growth.
Propagation: This can also be divided in spring.
Pests and Diseases: No known pests affect this sedge variety.
Related Species: Golden-edged sedge ( C. Elegantissima ‘Variegata’) is a clumping, evergreen sedge with green leaves edged in gold. Thrives in Zones 8 and 9 in moist, fertile, well-drained soil.
Carex flacca (glauca), GLAUCOUS SEDGE
Glaucous sedge, Carex flacca (glauca), also known as glaucous sedge or carnation grass, spreads rapidly. Grows in Zones 4-9 and heights of 12” x spreading. It is a semi-evergreen rhizomatous sedge with upright tousled spreading clumps. It has a medium texture and a fast growth rate.
Glaucous sedge grows best in sun and rich soil with adequate moisture. Its glaucous foliage blends well with hostas of similar color.
Uses: Ground cover for sun to light shade, erosion control
Care: Once established, carnation sedge will thrive in drought, but grows more slowly and remains shorter. It can become invasive if conditions are right.
Propagation: Start new plants by seed or division in spring.
Related Species: Carex flacca ‘Bias’ has leaves that are striped along a single margin.