Growing Carex

Growing Carex is rather interesting in that the family resembles grass and is found in almost all temperate and even arctic regions of the world.

This is one tough plant to kill but you can do it if you ignore the basic needs of the plant.

These are excellent plants for bogs and damp shade gardens in the water garden landscaping design.

Pot Or Container Plants

They are also very useful pot or container gardening plants particularly if you’re looking for a waterside container or a container that sits in the shallow water of a small pond.

Sunlight For Growing Carex

Growing Carex is best in full sun or shade (assuming enough moisture) In other words, you can grow this plant anywhere you have enough moisture.

Moisture Needs

There is no getting around it - growing Carex in full sun or in dry soils, will be a short-lived experiment.

This plant wants a lot of water - it is essentially a bog plant and while you can grow it in a shady wet garden, as soon as you dry out the soil for extended periods, the plant will stop thriving.


Divide Carex with a sharp shovel in the early spring for the easiest and quickest plants. They will self sow and the seed is relatively easily started if you harvest it in the fall from mature seed pods.

Soils and Moisture

As was indicated above, growing Carex in damper soils is a really good idea. It will grow in heavy clays but not with much enthusiasm. Again, if you allow the clay to dry out, you’ll stunt this plant.

Plants to Look For

Carex buchanii is a very popular plant found in most garden centers even though it does look dead all the time. The very fashionable brown foliage reaches up to 30-inches tall. It reproduces from rhizomes and dividing it in the spring is the easiest way to get more plants. I have started it from seed with no difficulties.

I’ve had it survive nicely in USDA zone 4 even though it is a New Zealand native.

C. ciliatomarginata ‘Shima-nishiki’ (Island Brocade Sedge) has wide grassy leaves edged in a gold-yellow. 15-20cm or 8 inches tall. Excellent plant and readily available in many garden centers.

C. comans’Frosted Curls’ is a small “mop-headed” plant with brownish leaves. Only reaching 20-30 cm (8-10-inches) it is a delicate plant that will be a little tender for USDA 5.

C. flacca (Blue Creeping Sedge) is a creeper with blue-green mounding leaves. Only 6-8 inches tall, it is hardy into USDA 4.

C. morrowii ‘Fishers Form’ is known as the Variegated Japanese Sedge and is a more upright, green and white leaved variety. Standing 30-40 cm (10-12 inches) it has not been reliably hardy for me in USDA 4.

C. nigra ‘Variegata’ or Variegated Black Sedge has low grass-like foliage that is a light green edged with a soft-yellow stripe. 15-25 cm (5-8 inches) and hardy to USDA 4/5.

C. pendula is also readily available and this tuft forming (it doesn’t creep like the C. buchanii but makes a clump) plant reaches 24 inches tall. Good green foliage

Carex ‘Golden Falls’ (Golden Falls Sedge) has cream-yellow and green leaves in the early spring but it fades to green as the season progresses. 15-20cm or (5-7 inches) tall. Hardy to USDA 5/6

Carex ‘Ice Dance’ (Variegated Japanese Sedge) has green leaves edged with white. Growing 20-30 cm (8-10 inches) it is hardy to USDA zone 5

Look for Carex in the grass section of garden shops or in the water garden areas.

Do you have a question about Growing Carex?


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