acid, neutral, alkaline, rich, average, loam, clay, gravel/rock
4, 5, 6, 7, 8
With its broad lime-green to chartreuse, conspicuously dimpled evergreen-ish foliage, Carex plantaginea is one of the showiest woodland sedges. It is compact, with 1” wide arching leaves forming neat clumps about 1’ in diameter and almost as tall. Although not grown for its flowers, they are quite cute in their own right and resemble puffed out Q-tips floating about 10” above the foliage. The blooming period typically occurs mid-spring.
Cultivation is easy. Plantainleaf sedge prefers consistently moist soil rich in organic matter and light to medium shade. However, as with many plants with the same requirements, it will tolerate brighter conditions in areas with more moisture, and drier conditions in areas with more shade. This is not an aggressive species. It can spread by seed under ideal conditions and form colonies, but it typically stays put and forms clumps via short rhizomes and a fibrous root system. So, no need to be bashful with this one. Use it at will in a shaded border and take advantage of its bold foliage to contrast with other shade-loving plants. Zones 4-8
The etymology of the genus Carex is difficult to peg. Species from this genus can be found just about throughout the globe, and have been recognized for millenia. So arguably, the name could have its origins from Proto-Indo-European, Sanskrit, Middle Low German, Russian, Lithuanian...or all of the above. However, the Carex genus was established by the father of modern taxonomy Carl Linnaeus in 1753. The genus includes over a thousand species of grass-like plants commonly known as sedges. One way of identifying them is to memorize this rhyme: “Sedges have edges, and rushes are round, but grasses have nodes from their tips to the ground.”. This describes the plants’ culms (flower/seed-bearing stems). The specific epithet, plantaginea, means plantain-like (as in the common name: plantainleaf sedge), and is derived from the Latin word, planta, which refers to the sole of the foot. In other words, these plants tend to be flat-ish, broad, close to the ground, or all of the above.