Ornamental grasses are known for the foliage and texture they bring to the sunny garden. Grass-like plants called Japanese sedges can replicate that texture in the shade garden. Both Carex oshimensis and Carex morrowii share the common name, Japanese Sedge. These plants are evergreen in South Carolina, adding year-round interest to the landscape.
Japanese sedges are grown for their colorful foliage instead of their insignificant flowers, which are small and brown. The foliage of Japanese sedges can be solid or variegated. The solid lime green foliage of Evercolor® Everillo (Carex oshimensis ‘Everillo’ PP21002) is striking against darker green plants. The variegated varieties include green with white or yellow margins or yellow with green margins. Plant them with shade plants, such as hostas and ferns, to add color to a shade garden.
Japanese sedges spread slowly via rhizomes and can serve many purposes. Line a path or sidewalk with them. Grow them en masse on a shady slope. Plant sedges among shade flowers like astilbes, bleeding hearts, and woodland phlox to add color to the garden when the flowers are no longer blooming or are dormant in winter. They also grow well in containers. Pair these evergreen sedges with pansies and violas for fall and winter combinations.
In USDA planting zones 5 to 9, sedges grow best in afternoon shade to full shade. Plant Carex oshimensis in soil that is moist and well drained. Carex morrowii can tolerate wetter soils. They will need water occasionally during times of drought.
If the foliage has a lot of wear and tear, it can be cut back in late winter to no lower than 2 inches high. New foliage will emerge in late spring and early summer. Cut it back only when needed instead of annually. Divide sedges in late winter.
There are many Japanese sedges on the market today. Consider planting these varieties in your garden:
Carex oshimensis Evercolor® Cultivars:
‘Everest’ (Carex oshimensis ‘CarFit01’ PP20955) has distinctive white stripes on the edges of the foliage.
‘Everillo’ (Carex oshimensis ‘Everillo’ PP25939) has bright lime green foliage.
‘Eversheen’ (Carex oshimensis ‘Eversheen’ PP25939) has a lime green stripe down the center of the leaf.
Carex morrowii Cultivars:
‘Variegata’ (Carex morrowii ‘Variegata’) has leaves with a wide yellow stripe down the center.
‘Ice Dance’ (Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’) has white edges on its dark green leaves.
For more information, see HGIC 1178 Ornamental Grasses and Grass-Like Plants.