Sedges for Containers

The third post in our Sedges Make Sense series focuses on Carex for container plantings. We’re profiling Carex for all kinds of uses—from anchoring a rain garden to creating a green carpet on a shady site. You’ll find out why they make sense for your growing program, green infrastructure projects, and for the ecological landscape market.

Carex from Asia, New Zealand, and Europe have been in the horticultural trade for decades. Because they were some of the first sedges sold commercially, they tend to be showier than our native species. Many sport bright colors and snazzy variegation, and they look fabulous in containers. Selections with arching habits cascade gracefully, softening edges and unifying mixed containers. Upright sedges add pizzazz and anchor the container visually.

All Carex are cool season plants, so they’re actively growing in early spring and fall when soil and air temperature are cooler. Take advantage of this growth spurt for early spring container combos or push sales into fall. In milder climates, some will remain evergreen, offering great options for winter containers.

Bowles' Golden Sedge has a beautiful habit and bright, variegated foliage.
Bowles’ Golden Sedge has a beautiful habit and bright, variegated foliage.

To bring a sunny look to a patio, pool, or deck, try Carex elata ‘Aurea’, also known as Bowles’ Golden Sedge. Its brilliant, arching foliage makes a strong, but graceful statement. This moisture-loving sedge thrives in a sealed container where its feet are constantly wet. It will also do fine in drier containers—just give it a bit of shade to offset the reduced moisture.

Some of our favorites for containers come from the EverColor® series. These selections stand out with neat, flowing habits and evergreen foliage. They’re strong, vigorous, and easy to grow. Plus, they’re colorful year-round. Even in areas where they’re not hardy, their vigorous growth lets you treat them like an annual. They do well in shade, but can take sun with adequate moisture and in cooler climates.

C. oshimensis Everest was one of the first in the EverColor® series and is still a best-seller. Bright white margins with a green center give it a fresh, clean look. The cultivar ‘Eversheen’ came a bit later and is gaining popularity. Its foliage with a lime yellow center and deep green margins turns up the volume on containers. There are more selections in the series, and more to come, so check them out here.

From across the globe, the New Zealand sedges offer snazzy accent plants. We love the fine foliage and interesting colors of C. testacea ‘Prairie Fire’. The foliage starts out green and then develops orange tips, which keep their color throughout the season. The color intensifies with more sun. For something different, try C. buchananii ‘Red Rooster’. Its copper-bronze foliage adds an unexpected twist to container plantings.

Our native sedges also add a special touch to containers. C. plantaginea, with its wide, dimpled foliage, adds texture and a clean look. Or try the feathery, palm-like foliage of C. muskingumensis for finer texture. These are just a few of the possibilities, so get the full list of sedges for containers on our website.

The market for perennial-based containers is growing, and sedges offer beautiful, easy-care options. Sedges make sense if you’re looking to grow, too.

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