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Japanese Sedge Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Carex Morrowii”

Our Guide to Japanese Sedge - Everything you will ever need to know! Tips for growing and caring for “Carex Morrowii”
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If you are looking for a showy ornamental plant to complete your spectacular grass collection, Carex morrowii a.k.a. Japanese sedge is the missing puzzle piece! This buddy right here is not only truly delightful but also very easy to deal with when it comes to its environmental and growing preferences.

Now, what is this Japanese sedge all about? Keep reading our guide to find out more about this gorgeous plant and also get more familiar with it!

Carex morrowii, commonly known as the Japanese sedge, Morrow’s sedge, Kan suge, or Variegated sedge, is a species of flowering grasses in the Cyperaceae family. This superb plant is native to the lower alpine areas of Central to Southern Japan. It grows mostly in wetland habitats, such as marshes, bogs, ponds, calcareous fens, or stream banks.

Over time, Japanese sedges have gained their place in the hearts of many gardeners. Besides their obvious irresistible looks, the easy-going nature of these plants played a big part in their popularity around the world. They can grow in almost any type of soil and tolerate low lighting levels and relatively cool temperatures. Plus, these grasses become drought-tolerant once established, which is a very convenient feature.

About Japanese Sedge

  • Japanese sedges come along with interesting varieties that can add a unique touch to any landscape decorations. Some of these cultivars are Variegata, Evergold, Ice Dance, Gold Band, and Silk Tassel.
  • Their flowers are highly attractive to butterflies and many other species of pollinators. These plants are also very important for the larvae of various Satyr species of butterflies, supporting their life as a food source.
  • Japanese sedges are versatile ornamental plants that will look absolutely fabulous in both indoor and outdoor settings. In regions where these plants are winter hardy, they offer nearly year-round interest through their vibrant foliage.
  • They make for wonderful additions to rock gardens, cottage gardens, rain gardens, city gardens, beds, borders, and also as ground covers. Japanese sedges show their charm best when planted in large clumps or in mass plantings.
  • The most suited and stunning companion plants for Japanese sedges include Christmas Rose, Cinnamon Fern, Coral Bells, Crested Iris, Dale’s Strain, Ornamental Onion, Tatarian Dogwood, or Wild Blue Phlox.
  • Very few studies were conducted to show that these plants are not toxic for humans or animals, so it is best to be cautious. For safety purposes, grow your plants in a spot where your curious kids or pets cannot reach them.
Japanese Sedge Leaves
Japanese Sedge Leaves

Japanese Sedge Features: An Overview

  • They belong to the Carex genus which is one of the largest genera of flowering plants. This genus contains about 1800 species of deciduous or evergreen perennial plants.
  • Japanese sedges are semi-evergreen perennials that can reach from 12 to 18 inches (31-46 cm) in height and 18 to 24 inches (46-61 cm) in width. They have a tidy, dense, mounding, and clumping overall growth habit.
  • Their attractive foliage consists of numerous arching, flat, thick, narrow, and glossy leaves of up to 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) in diameter. The leaves usually come in various shades of green, but they can also have fine creamy-white stripes and margins.
  • In general, these plants bloom from mid to late spring. During this period, they produce long, slender stems that each bears from four to six tiny, barely visible brown to copper flower spikes.
  • Japanese sedges tend to become quite invasive due to their self-sowing habit. Their seeds can serve as useful propagation material.

Growing Japanese Sedge

Believe us, the long-time journey of growing and caring for Japanese sedges is as exciting as you would imagine! These plants are so low-demanding by nature that it will be almost impossible to do them wrong. As long as you will manage to simulate their native habitat in your garden, you will have these companions by your side for as much as you would like to.

Light-wise, Japanese sedges will brighten not only your days but also any shady or dull areas from your surroundings. These beauties typically thrive in locations where they can receive full shade to dappled sunlight daily. Make sure you avoid growing your plants in bright and direct light because this particular condition will bleach their foliage with time.

In terms of temperatures, Japanese sedges are usually winter-hardy in USDA zones 5b to 9a. In northern regions, however, you can also protect your beloved plants from harsh winds or cooler temperatures. For this to happen, all you have to do is cover the root zone with a thick layer of organic mulch in autumn.

Overall, Japanese sedges are fairly carefree regarding fungal diseases and pest infestations. Some aphids might visit these plants occasionally, but they are generally harmless. The only issues that could affect the health of your plants are very sodden soils or extreme drought. But they will get on their feet right away if you provide them with proper growing conditions.

Planting Japanese Sedge

First things first, the perfect time to plant your Japanese sedges is usually in early spring. Outdoors, you can plant them absolutely anywhere you want as long as they experience suitable lighting conditions. In indoor settings, it is wise to plant these ornamentals in pots that have drainage holes at the bottom.

Japanese sedges are not picky at all when it comes to their growing medium. In fact, these plants can adapt to a wide variety of soils including clay, loamy, sandy, and chalky. Choosing the ideal substrate for your plants will be a piece of cake. For best growth, however, we recommend you look for moist, fertile soils that have excellent drainage.

Your Japanese sedges will need regular fertilizing to maintain their vigorous growth and glossy foliage. Feed your plants with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer once every month only during the spring and summer months.

Although it is not mandatory to prune your Japanese sedges frequently, they will benefit from a little attention once in a while. In late winter or early spring, you should remove all damaged or withered leaves to make room for fresh, healthy foliage to show up.

If you live in a region where these plants do not offer winter interest, you can also cut them to the ground level in late autumn or early winter. After this process, remove your Japanese sedges from the soil, transplant them in pots, and bring them inside your greenhouse or home. In early spring, you can move them back to their first location and care for them as usual.

Carex morrowii
Carex morrowii

Watering Japanese Sedge

One of the friendliest features of Japanese sedges is their minimal water demand for most of the time. Once established, these buddies are tolerant of drought for relatively short periods. Moreover, in humid areas with regular rainfalls, your plants will get as much rainwater as they need without any extra effort on your part.

Still, during their first year of growth after planting, Japanese sedges will need occasional watering to grow healthy and happy. Make sure you check the soil in-between waterings, though, because they are susceptible to root rot. When the top layer of soil feels dry to the touch, you can provide your plants with a nice soaking. If you adopt a suitable watering routine, it will help their roots to spread, become stronger, and settle in.

Propagating Japanese Sedge

In general, Japanese sedges fail to produce new foliage after several years of growth and may also die off eventually. But don’t worry! You can avoid this issue by propagating your dearest plants regularly. This process is also a great helper if you want to populate your landscape for free or share some specimens with your family and friends.

The most common way to propagate your Japanese sedges is through division once every two or three years in spring. This method requires little to no effort on your part and shows results almost instantly. Basically, all you must do is dig your plants out of the soil, divide their rhizomes into 2-3 sections, and replant each clump into their permanent locations. Nothing too complicated, right?

Another good method to obtain more Japanese sedges, but that requires more time, is seed sowing. First things first, you have to collect the seeds from your mother plants in autumn. Secondly, sow the seeds in fresh potting soil and place the container in a warm area. The seeds will germinate properly if you keep them in a place with dappled light and provide them with water whenever the top layer of soil feels dry to the touch. Once the seedlings have developed a root system, usually after several months or so, you can transplant them anywhere you want.

In Conclusion

It is pretty difficult to find another species of grasses that could outstand the enchanting character of Japanese sedges! Whether it is their innate beauty or appealing low-maintenance features that will win you over, these plants deserve a place in your garden. And, one of the best things about them: they are very easy to propagate, so they will keep you company for a very long time from now on!

Are you growing Japanese sedges? Share your experience in the comments below!

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Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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