Carex is a large genus of hardy to slightly tender, evergreen short grasses with green to yellow leaves, sometimes variegated.

Family: Cyperaceae
Botanical Name: Carex (kah-reks)
Common Names: Sedge, blue grass, pink grass, shere grass, spire grass.

Foliage: Deciduous or evergreen, linear or strap-shaped leaves.

Flowers: Insignificant flowers appear on tall or short spikes with leafy bracts.

Flowering Period: Summer.

Soil: Moist or poorly drained soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Best in full sun but will tollerate some shade. Plant in a north, east or west facing aspect.

Habit: Tufted, clump forming.

Type: Perennial or annual.

Origin: Worldwide distribution.

Hardiness: Most varieties are hardy in the UK.

Planting and Growing Carex

Plant in autumn or spring in a well drained but moisture-retentive soil. C. pendula prefers a constantly moist soil.

Smaller varieties can be used to edge beds and borders. Larger plants make good clumps at pool margins.

Taking Care of Carex

These hardy perennial grasses are very easy to grow in almost any situation and require very little maintenance.

Pruning Carex

Cut out any dead or damaged leaves in summer.

Pests and Diseases

Generally trouble free.

Propagating Carex

Sow seed of species in trays under the protection of a cold frame in spring. Harden off in a nursery bed and plant out in autumn.

Increase cultivars by division in spring.

Varieties of Carex

Three main types of carex are bonze leaf forms, variegated leaf forms and larger sedges suitable for the bog garden.

Carex berggrenii is a low growing form with stubby dense tufts of brown to silvery-brown leaves. Black flowers in summer. Height to 4in (10cm).

Carex brunnea is an evergreen perennial sedge with tufts of slender bright green leaves. Red-brown flower spikes within the foliage, during summer. Variety 'Jenneke' is an arching evergreen with long, strap-like, variegated leaves. For sale at Van Meuwen.

Carex buchananii (Leatherleaf Sedge) is a popular form with evergreen narrow, copper-bronze grass-like leaves. Erect when young, gradually arching over with pig-tail like curls towards their tips. Height to 30in (75cm).

Carex comans (New Zealand Hair Sedge) is a pendulus form that looks great in a tall pot. Height to 24in (60cm). Variety 'Frosted Curls' is a very distinctive form with pale silvery green grass-like leaves that curl gracefully towards the ground. 'Bronze-Leaved' is a delightful variety forming a low, cascading mound of narrow bronze-brown leaves. Small brown flower spikes in late summer. The variety 'Bronze Perfection' has evergreen foliage is a striking shade of bronze, providing year-round interest and colour. Height 14in (35cm), spread 24in (60cm). For sale at Van Meuwen. 'Milk Chocolate' is a clump-forming variety with chocolate brown foliage. Good autumn colour. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.

Carex elata (Bowles' Golden Sedge) is an outstanding ornamental grass with tall arching yellow leaves with fine green edges.

Carex 'Feather Falls' produces evergreen arching foliage that creates a fountain of green and white variegated leaves. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.

Carex hachijoensis is a versatile perennial grass. Variety 'Maxigold' forms a rounded, cascading mound of slender arching, gold and pale-green variegated foliage. Ideal for shaded, north facing positions. For sale at Van Meuwen.

Carex morrowii (Japanese sedge) a clump-forming semi-evergreen with long, narrow and arching green leaves and flowers during the spring. Height 1-2.5ft (30-80cm). Cultivar 'Evergold' has leaves striped golden-yellow and 'Variegata' forms a clump of green leaves edged with white. For sale at Thompson & Morgan. Variety 'Alba' is slower-growing but has brighter leaves and 'Ice Dance' has narrow, arching, shiny, dark green leaves, edged with white. Brown flower spikes appear on long stems in late spring. For sale at Van Meuwen.

Carex oshimensis is a medium height grassy sedge. The popular cultivar 'Evergold' (RHS Award of Garden Merit) bears evergreen long arched, slender, golden leaves, highlighted with dark green margins. Height and spread: 19in (50cm). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.

Carex riparia (greater pond sedge) thrives in water or very wet ground. Can be invasive. The popular form 'Variegata' has leaves striped with white.

Carex pendula (great drooping sedge) has broad, deep green leaves and attractive pendent catkin-like seed heads from slender arching stems, in autumn. One of the larges sedges. Height to 4ft (1.2m).

Carex stricta 'Bowles Golden' has golden-yellow leaves that turn green in late summer. Height up to 2ft (60cm).