Over 1500 species of Carex grow in a variety of habitats throughout the world, often in moist to wet areas. Carex belongs to the sedge family Cyperaceae. Although the differences between sedges and grasses can be difficult to distinguish, there are some characteristics that can be used to differentiate between the plants from these two families. The most obvious characteristic is the flower stems; grasses have mostly round, hollow flower stems with nodes, whereas the flower stems of sedges do not have nodes and are triangular. Additionally, the flowers of grasses are perfect (both male and female flowers on the same flower) and sedges have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. For those die-hard taxonomists, another distinguishing characteristic is the ligules; most grasses have conspicuous ligules (appendages at the junction of the sheath and blade), while sedges do not have ligules.
Easily grown in medium to wet soils in part shade to full shade. Best performance is in evenly moist soils in part shade. Soils should not be allowed to dry out and need consistent supplemental watering in hot summer weather. Cut foliage to the ground and remove in late winter. May be propagated by division in spring. Plants will spread over time by rhizomes to form a dense ground cover.
Use in a bog, as border plants, in containers, in mass planting, as a specimen plant or focal point. It is an outstanding accent plant for brightening up shady gardens or pathways and is also striking in containers. Deer resistant.
PLANTING: Plant 18 inches apart in any good garden soil, in part shade. In the North, they can be grown in full sun. In the South, most prefer some shade. Most members of the genus need a moist soil.
MAINTENANCE: Divide in spring if it has become overcrowded. Otherwise, little or no maintenance is required. If the foliage looks poor and bedraggled after the winter, which is often the case in the North, cut it back hard in early spring and allow the new growth to come up afresh.
Insect or disease problems are generally a rare occurrence when growing carex. Aphids, mealybugs and slugs are the primary insect pests that may occasionally be observed feeding on them, but rarely do these pests become problematic. Rust and crown/root rots are the most common diseases growers are likely to observe. Improper planting practices or poor irrigation management are often responsible for the onset of root or crown rot pathogens.