When planted right and in the right spot, Carex is very easy to grow. Some Carex varieties appreciate a drier soil while others like a consistently moist or boggy soil. Most like part shade however some will tolerate full to mostly sun. Therefore, before planting, it's a good idea to know the sun and moisture needs of the specific varieties you intend on growing. You'll find these specific light and moisture needs on any Carex plant page in this site. 

Here's a breakdown of what you need to know regarding planting and caring for Carex plants...


Cultural Preferences



Soil Preferences

As mentioned above, some Carex prefer a consistently moist to boggy soil while others like a drier, well-drained soil. You'll find these specific light and moisture needs on any and every Carex plant page in this site. 


Soil pH

Soil pH is a measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil, which is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark. Any measurement below 7 indicates acid soil conditions, and anything above 7 indicates alkaline.

Carex grow in soils ranging from 5.5 to 7.5 on the pH scale. Most average garden soils fall between a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. 

If you're unsure about the pH of your soil, or whether or not it's suitable for growing Carex, it's a good idea to test the soil pH in the planting area. You can quickly test soil pH with an inexpensive soil pH tester probe. To raise the pH (make more alkaline) you can add pelletized limestone to the soil. To lower the pH (make more acid) you can apply Soil SulfurAluminum Sulfate, or Chelated Iron. Adding organic compost to the soil or using compost as mulch can also help to increase acidity and maintain acid soil conditions.



Light Preferences

Most Carex prefer a shady to partially shaded site however some will tolerate more sun. Therefore, in design and before planting, it's a good idea to know the sun and moisture needs of the specific Carex varieties you intend on growing.




Planting Carex In The Ground

Scroll down for container planting instructions


Site Preparation for Mass Planting

Weed Elimination

Before planting, eliminate existing weeds or grasses in the planting area. You can pull weeds by hand or spray them with a solution of glyphosate-based broad spectrum weed killer. Wait at least two hours after spraying a glyphosate-based product before you begin planting. Before using any chemical read the mixing and application instructions on the label. 


Soil Preparation

Tilling the soil in the planting area is optional. There are several reason we usually don't recommend it. Tilling on sloped ground loosens soil making it more susceptible to erosion in the event there comes heavy rainfall. Tilling can also bring buried dormant weeds seeds to the surface. Freshly tilled ground is a perfect environment for weed seeds to sprout in. If you do decide to till, we recommend the application of a landscape landscape weed preventer to the soil surface. Also, if you are planting groundcover plants under established trees, be aware that tilling can cause serious damage to tree roots, which can effect the health of a tree. The feeder roots of trees can often extend well beyond the perimeter of the canopy.

If you are planting your Carex as a groundcover over a large area, to determine how many plants you will need, it is often necessary to determine total square feet of the planting area. Once you have the square footage, then you can determine how far apart you will space plants in the planting area. (Under the description tab on every plant page in Wilson Bros Gardens you will find a spacing recommendation.) Click on the links below to get helpful tips.





Step-By-Step Planting Instructions


Step 1

Set and space all plants out in the planting area before starting to plant. Alternatively, you can use marking paint to mark the spot where each plant will go, which is often necessary when planting on steep slopes, where plants in containers will not stay put. If there will be more than one row of plants, begin by setting out or marking one straight row of plants. It's best to start along the edge of the planting bed making sure to space plants at a distance far enough from the edge of the planting bed to allow for future spreading. For example, plants with a recommended spacing of 24" apart should be spaced at least 12" from the edge of the bed (or surfaced area) to the center of the plant. After setting out the first row, stagger the plants on the second row and so on until the space is filled.




Step 2

If you are not tilling the soil in the entire planting area, start by digging your planting hole at least two to three times as wide and only as deep as the height of the rootball of your plant. Place native soil removed from planting hole around the perimeter of the hole, in a wheel barrow, or on a tarp. When planting in tilled soil just dig the planting hole the same size or a little larger than the rootball of the plant.


Step 3

Depending on the type of Carex you are planting and the level of soil moisture, you might need to amend the native soil. When planting in dense clay or poor soil it is often beneficial to thoroughly mix in some good organic matter, such as composted manure, homemade compost, sand, bagged top soil, and/or a good planting mix at a 50/50 ratio with the clay soil.


Step 4

To remove your Carex plant from the container it was growing in, squeeze the container with your hands to loosen the rootball and then try to very gently lift and remove it from its container. Be careful not to damage your plant when removing it from its container. If the rootball is stuck in the container use some snips to cut the container away. After having removed the plant from the container, use your finger tips to gently loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the rootball. 


Step 5

Set your plant in the planting hole so that the top edge of the rootball is at or slightly above ground level. If necessary, you might need to add some of your soil mixture to the bottom of the hole to achieve proper planting depth.






Step 6

After setting your Carex plant in the planting hole, use one hand to hold the plant straight and your other hand to begin back-filling your soil mixture around the root ball, tamping as you go to remove air pockets. When you have filled the hole to the halfway point you can soak the soil. Then continue back-filling to the top edge of the rootball.


Step 7 

Next, deeply water the planting area, including the root ball, to a depth equal to the height of the root ball. 


Step 8

Spread a 1-inch layer of shredded or chipped wood mulch or pine straw around the planting area to conserve moisture and to suppress weed growth. As the mulch decomposes it will add vital nutrients to the soil that your plants will appreciate. Avoid using freshly chipped or shredded wood for mulch until it has cured in a pile for at least 6 months, a year is better. Also avoid placing or piling mulch directly against the base of your plant as this could cause the stems to rot.




Planting Carex In A Container


Carex add a whispy, grassy texture and nice color to container gardens. Plant them alone in a pot or mix them with other plants that have similar soil moisture and sun needs. Some Carex varieties appreciate a drier soil while others like a consistently moist or boggy soil. Most like part shade however some will tolerate full to mostly sun. Therefore, before planting, it's a good idea to know the sun and moisture needs of the specific Carex varieties you intend on growing. You'll find these specific light and moisture needs on any and all Carex plant pages in this site. 

When growing in pots, I suggest using a premium quality potting mix and a container that has drainage holes. If the variety of Carex you are planting likes a lot of moisture in the soil, you can substitute the potting mix with a potting soil.  

Make sure to choose a container that is large enough to allow for 2 to 3 years of growth before shifting up to a larger size container. This might mean your planting pot would be 6 inches or more in width than the root ball of your plant. If you will be planting other plants in the same container with your Carex up the size of the container.

Container color will matter as well. Not only will you want to pick a color of container that goes well with the foliage color of your Carex, you'll also want to pick a container that matches the style of your home or other structures and other plants in the surrounding environment. 

Many nursery & garden centers offer a wide variety of containers to choose from. Before heading out to buy a container take pictures of your home and the surrounding environment. Doing so will help you to choose just the right color and style.


Container Planting Instructions


Step 1

Before filling your container with the soil mix, we recommend lining the bottom with shade cloth or a porous landscape fabric. This will keep the drainage holes from becoming stopped up with soil. 


Step 2

To remove your Carex plant from the container it was growing in, squeeze the container with your hands to loosen the rootball and then try to very gently lift and remove it from its container. Be careful not to damage your plant when removing it from its container. If the rootball is stuck in the container use some snips to cut the container away. After having removed the plant from the container, use your finger tips to gently loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the rootball.  


Step 3

Pour a small amount of your soil mixture in the bottom of the container. Set the rootball of your plant in the container and make necessary adjustments by adding or removing some soil so that the top edge of the root ball will sit 1/2" to 1" below the rim of the container.




Step 4

Backfill with your potting soil around root ball, tamping as you go, until the level of potting soil is even with the top edge of root ball.


Step 5

Water thoroughly until water starts to drain from the holes in the bottom of the container. Add more potting mix if settling occurs during watering.


Step 6 (Optional)

Apply a 1/2" layer of bark chips or sphagnum moss to soil surface to help conserve moisture. 



Caring For Carex Plants



How To Fertilize Carex Sedge Plants

Carex sedge plants are light feeders that require little if any fertilizer. Unlike lawn grasses that need regular applications of high-nitrogen fertilizer, Carex would prefer an annual feeding in late spring or early winter with a natural or organic plant food. Alternatively, a slow-release low-nitrogen fertilizer can be used.




How To Water Carex Sedge Plants

At planting time, deep soak the soil around the rootball, including the rootball, to a depth equal to the height of the rootball. Thereafter, depending on the needs of the specific moisture needs of the Carex variety(ies), water as needed based on weather conditions. Keep in mind that the soil in containers and pots will dry out quicker than ground soil. Check soil moisture frequently by touching the soil with your finger tips. Eventually you'll come to know when your plants could use some water.  



How To Prune Carex Sedge Plants

Most Carex are evergreen throughout most of their growing range and will require little if any pruning. Where not evergreen, foliage should be cut to the ground and removed in late winter before new growth begins to emerge. Even in regions where Carex are evergreen, after an unusually cold winter that damages or discolors foliage, plants should be cut back or mowed by two-thirds their height. 



Plant Long & Prosper!™

Questions?  Contact Us >