859 Carex phyllocephalaCommon Names: palm sedge Family: Cyperaceae (sedge Family)
Palm sedge is a grasslike perennial which grows in a clump with many 1-2 ft (0.3-0.6 m) stems each ending in a whorl of spreading leaves like the crown of a miniature palm tree. Sparkler sedge (C. phyllocephala 'Sparkler') is the most common form in cultivation and one of the most striking grasslike plants around. It has leaves that are dark green down the center with broad cream colored margins.
Palm sedge, Carex phyllocephala is native to China and reached U.S. gardens by way of Japan, where the variegated cultivar was developed.
CultureLight: Palm sedge does well in partial to nearly full shade. It can be grown in full sun, but needs more frequent watering. Moisture: Palm sedge does very well in slightly moist soils, but it does pretty well in dry soils, too. It should be given supplemental watering during prolonged dry spells. Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 - 9. The non-variegated form is hardy to zone 6. Propagation: Start new plants by division or by seed. Palm sedge may self-sow, but is not invasive.
This is one of few plants that do well in dry shade. Use it in the woodland garden, among ferns or to line a path through the lightly shaded areas of your landscape. It can be used as a groundcover in partly shady areas, but it is rather slow spreading. Sparkler sedge will really light up a shady corner. It's also very attractive in cut flower arrangements.
The sedges have largely been overlooked by Western gardeners until quite recently. Most of the more than 1000 species are evergreen clumpers that provide dramatic textures and shapes. They come in all sizes, but their flowers are for the most part uninteresting. Most sedges are grown for their foliage. Although most appreciate a fairly moist soil, some, like palm sedge, do well in dry soils. Drooping sedge (C. pendula) and Oshima sedge (C. oshimensis) are coming into their own in American gardens.
Steve Christman 11/14/00; updated 1/20/04