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Genus Carex (Sedge)

Carex Carex morrowii 'Ice Dance' Photo/Illustration: Stephanie Fagan
KARE-ex Common Name: Sedge
Carex is a huge genus of more than 1,500 species of perennials with triangular, grass-like stems and panicles of flowerheads in short spikes. Most species are from wet areas such as bogs or damp woods. There is a Carex species to suit almost any garden situation.
Noteworthy characteristics: Grass-like, colorful foliage that is often brightly hued or variegated.
Care: Varies. Sun to part shade, in dry to moist soils.
Propagation: Sow seed in containers and overwinter in a cold frame. Divide plants betwen spring and early summer.
Problems: Rust, smut and leaf spot. Aphids are possible.

Species, varieties and cultivars for genus Carex

Carex buchananii Carex buchananii
(Leatherleaf sedge)
(2 user reviews)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Two-foot-tall, stiff, orange-brown blades curve at the end like a shepherd’s staff. Burnished red-bronze foliage, which fades to flax at the tips, gives off a warm glow when backlit by the sun.

Carex divulsa Carex divulsa
(Berkeley sedge)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This sedge is one of the most adaptable of the ground-cover grasses. Its ability to look the same in sun or shade makes it a valuable asset in plantings that go in and out of full sun. Berkeley sedge is a good solution for areas under stress where lawn grasses often fail. The flowers are not particularly noteworthy.

Carex elata 'Aurea' Carex elata 'Aurea'
(Bowles' golden sedge)
(2 user reviews)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This beautiful sedge's vivid foliage adds bright color to the garden. The yellow seems to glow in partial shade. Use this dramatic clump of foliage near water or in shallow water, or in another moist location.

Carex morrowii 'Ice Dance' Carex morrowii 'Ice Dance'
(Variegated sedge)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Ice Dance' is a dense, spreading sedge grown for its foliage. This sedge looks good year round, even in winter.The early-spring flowers are insignificant, but the white-edged leaves complement most other plants. Grow as a groundcover in woodland areas or in a shade garden. This sedge is evergreen in warm climates. -Jane Hutson, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue# 127

Carex muskingumensis ‘Oehme’ Carex muskingumensis ‘Oehme’
('Oheme' palm sedge)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

With its yellow-trimmed foliage, ‘Oehme’ is truly the palm sedge with an edge. I love this species for its tropical feel and cascading texture. This North American native prefers a damp spot but tolerates many growing conditions. It’s attractive to butterflies and birds but is usually unappealing to deer. Use ‘Oehme’ to brighten a shady bed or as an ornamental approach to erosion control on a stream bank. -Justin Nichols, Fine Gardening #147 (October 2012), page 70 

Carex plantaginea Carex plantaginea
(Seersucker sedge)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Seersucker sedge is an evergreen, spreading sedge with narrow brown-black flowers on 8-inch stems in spring. Its wide, puckered foliage is shiny and bright green, reaching over a foot long. This sedge is native to rich woods of the eastern U.S. and makes a nice edger or accent plant.

Carex siderosticha 'Variegata' Carex siderosticha 'Variegata'
(Broad-leaf sedge)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This sedge's pearly, straplike leaves resemble striped ribbon waiting to be wrapped around a package. It sports fuzzy green flowers with green stamens in late spring. Grow as an edging or groundcover.