Sedge- Leatherleaf, Birdfoot, Bowles’ Golden, and Carex glauca Sedge

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.

"Leatherleaf Sedge"

Leatherleaf Sedge

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.

"Birdfoot Sedge"

Carex conica

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.

Uses: Edging, ground cover, accent, rock garden.

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’.

"Bowlles' Golden Sedge"

Carex elata


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.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: