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Since 1988, THE source for buying native, rare, and unique perennials.

Carex - Fine Textural Sedges for the Perennial Shade Garden


Carex (sedge) is an underused plant that is like an ornamental grass for shade (although it is not a true grass, it is a primitive flowering plant called a sedge). Carex selections come with red, copper, blue, green, or yellow leaves. There are also variegated carex with cream and green stripes. The leaves may be quite wide and have a coarse texture (like Carex platyphylla) or fine textured (like carex eburnea). In addition to the typical clumping grass-like form, there is the palm sedge (e.g., Carex phyllocephala) that has a short stem with a whorl of leaves radiating out from the top...like the ribs of a tiny umbrella.

Sedge looks great when planted with hosta, helleborus, pulmonaria or similar coarse textured shade plants. Carex species are fairly tough plants and are resistant to deer but they do not like to dry out. If you have a large shade garden, skip the liriope and go straight to the sedge.

Although superior to liriope in foliage, carex does not have the colorful flowers that liriope does. Carex flowers are more grass-like and brown and are rather uninteresting. Sedges are great for mixed container plantings and the wide variety of shapes makes them either spillers or fillers depending on the species. Plant Delights Nursery always has a wide variety of sedges for sale (like palm sedge) and we have an even larger variety of sedges on display in our garden. Please drop by on our open house days and see them all.

Welcome to Plant Delights Nursery at Juniper Level Botanic Gardens. We are a private research and display botanic garden located near Raleigh, North Carolina (USDA Hardiness Zone 7b). Our retail mail order division allows us to make the best perennials from our trials available to gardeners around the world, some of which were developed here, some from our plant explorations, and others from breeders around the world. Between 1988 and 2010, Plant Delights Nursery introduced over 500 new perennial plants to US horticulture. In 2002, we were honored to be recognized by the American Horticulture Society for our lifetime of work in commercial horticulture. This image gallery is but a sampling of the great perennial plants available for gardeners around the world. We do not carry all plants pictured at any one time, but since our mission is to educate and inspire, we hope these images and the linked articles below will expand your garden horizons and interest. You will find an array of other interesting information and fascinating perennials throughout our website...thank you for taking time to visit.