Carex phyllocephala 'Sparkler'
Common Name: sedge
Type: Rush or Sedge
Family: Cyperaceae
Zone: 7 to 10
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Greenish
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Tolerate: Deer, Heavy Shade, Wet Soil

Culture

Best grown in medium to wet soils in part shade to full shade. May be grown in close to full sun if soils are kept consistently moist. Thrives in moist, organically rich soils, but can also perform reasonably well in average garden soils. Unlike many of the sedges, this species has some tolerance for dry soils. It will self-seed in the garden. Propagate by seed or division.

‘Sparkler’ is generally considered to be winter hardy to USDA Zone 7. In the St. Louis area, it is perhaps best grown in containers that can be overwintered in greenhouses or bright but cool indoor locations. If grown in the ground in St. Louis, it should be sited in a protected location (e.g. south side of a house).

Noteworthy Characteristics

Carex phylocephala, commonly known as Tenjiku suge or palm sedge, features narrow leaves in whorl-like structures clustered at the top of clumps of 1-2’ tall cane-like stems in a manner somewhat reminiscent of the crown of a dwarf palm tree. Green leaves are interesting but not particularly showy. It is native to China, but came to U.S. gardens by way of Japan.

Genus name from Latin means cutter in reference to the sharp leaves and stem edges (rushes are round but sedges have edges) found on most species' plants.

‘Sparkler’ is a popular palm sedge cultivar that is grown for its attractive variegated foliage. This is a clump-forming sedge that produces cane-like stems to 1-2’ tall which are topped by clusters of grass-like, variegated leaves that form at the end of each stem creating a palm-like effect. Narrow leaves are green in the center with broad white margins on both sides. Introduced from Japan by Barry Yinger.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

In southern locations where plants are reliably winter hardy, mass or group in woodland gardens, shade gardens, borders or rock gardens. Excellent accent for shady areas. In the St. Louis area, plants are perhaps best grown in containers. Bright variegated foliage lights up shady garden areas.