It’s easy to overlook the value of sedges (Carex) in the garden, but these easy and adaptable plants can be valuable for adding foliage interest in a variety of settings. Plantain-leaved sedge (C. plantaginea) has a number of features that makes it one of my favorites. Its long, relatively broad leaves have an interesting puckered texture (hence the other common name “seersucker sedge”); they have a pretty chartreuse glow in spring, complemented by showy black-and-gold flower spikes; and they are evergreen. The plants reach about 1 foot tall in bloom and look spiky at first; as both the leaves and flowering stems elongate, they develop an arching form. By summer, the foliage clumps are usually in the range of 8 to 12 inches tall.
Unlike some sedges, this one is primarily a clump-former, gradually expanding by short rhizomes, not rampant runners. It grows in a wide range of settings here, from full sun to full shade; generally, though partial shade is ideal for this woodland species. It loves moist, rich soil but can even adapt to dry shade.
Plantain-leaved sedge works great as a groundcover under shrubs, ferns, hostas, and hellebores. For extra interest, interplant it with spring bulbs and ephemeral wildflowers. I like to shear the clumps back to 1 to 2 inches above the crown in late winter to very early spring, to remove the winter-tattered leaves and make it easier for dainty flowering companions to emerge.
Reportedly hardy in Zones 4 to 8, this species is native to much of eastern North America. My original seeds came from a native population in a York County, PA garden. I collected these seeds in mid-May 2021. It’s my understanding that they do not tolerate dry storage well, so I will have them available only through June 2021 (or they will be out of stock sooner if they sell out). Each packet will contain at least 25 seeds.
Please read the germination information as well before ordering.