Many sedges thrive in shade and not only blend beautifully with ferns and wildflowers, they can become easy care ground covers. Here are some of our favorites that do well when planted in the right site.
Sedges offer a beautiful, sustainable way to weave additional texture through garden beds.
Carex blanda or Common Wood Sedge
Common wood sedge, a nice tidy clumping sedge that reaches at most two feet, prefers full sun to part shade. In sunny locations, site it with moisture in mind. When it’s in the shade, it tolerates average to dry conditions, making it an ideal companion for gardening under trees.
Carex brevior or Plains Oval Sedge
Plains oval sedge is a short, bright green sedge that is equally happy in sun or shade. At only a foot high, tuck it in along the front of the border. Pretty seed heads turn golden brown and are held above the foliage for pretty effect. It tolerates a wide range of conditions, so it can easily weave through a garden bed and add rhythm to your design.
Carex cristatella or Crested Oval Sedge
This is an excellent sedge for a wet area in sun or shade. Try including it at the bottom of a shady rain garden as it will even tolerate standing water. Long clusters of rounded seed heads turn tawny in summer.
Carex gracillima or Purple-sheathed Graceful Sedge
This sedge thrives in part to full shade in average to wet soils. Reaching around three feet high with dark green foliage, its grass-like seed heads gracefully dangle in summer. A wonderful companion to hostas, ginger, and brunnera, it may slowly fill in as a groundcover.
Carex grayi or Common Bur Sedge
Common bur sedge features distinctive large Sputnick-like seed heads above large flat, semi-evergreen foliage. The seed heads remain all winter for four-season appeal. This sedge can reach about three feet in ideal conditions and likes wet feet. It can be found sunny to shady as long as it has enough moisture.
Carex lurida or Sallow Sedge
Add a touch of chartreuse with sallow sedge’s bright yellow-green foliage and golden seed heads. Its clustered seed heads resemble sweet gum balls and are held within the foliage for an interesting texture. Reaching around two to three feet, it’s a nice low growing sedge for rain gardens or bioswales. Sallow sedge does best at the edge of a pond or stream where it can receive more moisture.
Carex muskingumensis or Palm Sedge
Palm sedge is named for its distinct leaflets which fan out in the shape of a palm. The robust seed heads linger until winter about yellow-green foliage. It does best in part shade and moist soils, but because it tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, it’s a great plant for rain gardens.
Carex radiata or Straight-styled Wood Sedge
Straight-styled wood sedge thrives in part to full shade and prefers to be moist. In late spring, delicate star-shaped seed heads appear above its graceful green foliage. Plant it where you can enjoy its unique seeds.
Carex rosea or Curly-styled Wood Sedge
This sedge is small and delicate. A slight rose blush to the flowers give it its Latin name. Curly-styled wood sedge prefers average to dry soils, making it ideal for dry shade gardens or planting under trees.
Carex shortiana or Short’s Sedge
Short’s sedge forms dense clumps that are 16 to 24 inches high. It thrives in full sun to part shade and moist to average soils. Dark brown seed heads float above the foliage throughout the summer months and the pretty green foliage turns a soft yellow in autumn.