Most people think sedges are grasses. They certainly look like grasses but they aren’t; they are a different and distinct group of plants that belong to a different family, the Cyperaceae. Of the 2,000+ species of sedge that we grow, many are from New Zealand or Asia. Common examples are papyrus used by the Egyptians for paper, and nutsedge a pesky lawn weed, but there are many ornamental ones that are popular as container and border plants throughout the United States.

Here are five beautiful sedges that are especially attractive in containers.

‘Bunny Blue’ Sedge (Carex laxiculmis “Bunny Blue’)This evergreen native of eastern North America has silvery blue-green foliage that combines well with hot colors. Cut it back in spring to encourage new growth.

     Size: 10-12” H x 12-18”
    Light: Part shade (tolerates more sun with sufficient water supply)
    Soil: Average, moist, well-drained (must not dry out)
    Hardiness: Zones 7-9

Weeping Brown Sedge ‘Toffee Twist’ (Carex flagelifera ‘Toffee Twist’)A New Zealand native, weeping brown sedge has fine textured coppery-brown leaves that persist year round. The leaves curl and form attractive clumps as they arch and fall to the ground. The brown color makes them an usual addition to any container.

     Size: 2-3’ H x 2-3’W
    Light: Sun to partial shade
    Soil: Fertile, moist, well-drained
    Hardiness: Zones: 7-9

Variegated Japanese Sedge (Carex hachioensis ‘Evergold’)The evergreen leaves of this sedge have creamy yellow centers with green margins and create a cascading mound. Pair it with pink hyacinths and tulips in spring, pink impatiens in summer.

    Size: 12” H x 14” W
    Light: Partial shade
    Soil: Average, moist, well-drained
    Hardiness: Zones 6-9

Palm Sedge (Carex muskingumensis)Slow creeping palm sedge is semi-deciduous with palm-like leaves that lend a tropical appearance to a container. A native of North America where it grows along streams and in marshes so consider it for a container with other moisture loving plants.

     Size: 2-3’ H x 1-1.5’ W
    Light: Sun or shade with sufficient moisture
    Soil: Average, moist
    Hardiness: Zones 4-9

‘Frosty Curls’ New Zealand Hair Sedge (Carex comans ‘Frosty Curls’)‘Frosty Curls’ is a dwarf compact sedge with narrow leaves that form a fountain-like clump, 6-12” high. The leaves form curly pigtails at the tips and appear almost white.

    Size: 6-12” H x 12” W
    Light: Sun to part shade
    Soil: Average, moist, well-drained
    Hardiness: Zones 6-9

Container Gardening PointerSedges are versatile plants that can take sun to part shade if given adequate moisture. Some like palm sedge can even grow in water. Combine sedges with plants that have similar requirements for a good contrast in texture and color.

By Karen