All About Growing and Care Of Carex Divulsa

Carex divulsa [KAR-eks, dee-VOOL-sah] is an evergreen perennial rush or sedge from the graminoid (grass-like) family Cyperaceae

It is a rhizomatous plant type, growing long green clumps.

Onamental grass Carex_divulsa planted in the landscape
Auckland Museum [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

There is an interesting tale to go along with this Carex species like:

Often, Carex divulsa is confused with Carex tumulicola (Berkeley sedge). 

The latter of the two – the one this article is about – is a European native sedge.

It was wrongfully sold as the California native Carex tumulicola, causing the confusion in the nursery trade. 

This sedge is also an ornamental grass and quite similar to C. divulsa but has its differences. 

It is found in western North America including British Columbia.

The sedge in question is Carex divulsa, found across central Europe. 

Common names include foothill sedge and grassland sedge, both an ode to the type of land native sedges grow in. 

In some areas, it is also known as the Eurasian Grey Sedge.

Carex Divulsa Plant Care

Size & Growth

Carex divulsa is a clumping grass-like evergreen, growing in arching clumps. 

Native to grasslands, foothills, woods, etc, it grows abundantly. 

The pubescent grass-like long, dark green leaves grow quite long. 

Each spike surpasses 18” inches in length and is approximately one-eighth of an inch wide. 

They have a significantly rapid growth rate as they self-seed quite well.

Flowering and Fragrance

When the bloom time comes in spring, Carex divulsa produces very insignificant flowers that are not much to look at. 

They are borne on long stems, which are about 2’ feet tall. 

The flowers start out pale green, turning yellow and then finally brown.

Light & Temperature

Originally, Carex divulsa was grown and cultivated in Eurasia. 

It has since been introduced to the US and Canada and is hardy to USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 10. 

They perform their best and grow lush when placed under the full sun but they do tolerate partial shade. 

These plants are winter hardy and tend to like cooler climes.

In USDA Zone 4, however, this species tends to be an aggressive species compared to the California native C. tumulicola.

Watering and Feeding

Good foliage color and healthy growth rate for the sedge is sustained with even moisture. 

Average water needs are fulfilled with regular watering in the summer and infrequent watering in winter. Once established plants are very drought tolerant.

As for fertilizer, use a slow-release formula in spring as the sedge comes out of dormancy. 

Yellowing and dull leaves is revived with a shot of liquid iron. 

Be very careful about overfeeding as it may cause leggy growth.

Soil & Transplanting

Based on the plant’s nativity, they prefer boggy or wet soils. 

They are drought-resistant and helps improve erosion, sucking up the moisture. 

Clayey or sandy soils with medium moisture are preferred but can grow in most kinds of soils.

Transplanting is not necessary but is done if the plant spreads too far in the landscape. 

All you have to do is carefully dig out the clumps and new rhizomatous growth and move to a pot or another location in the ground.

Grooming and Maintenance

This grass-like plant is very low-maintenance. 

Pruning is not required unless you want to limit the plant’s self-seeding. 

Also, light mowing is done to control the length of the leaves.

How to Propagate Carex Divulsa Sedge Plants

When starting foothill sedge and Berkeley sedge with seeds, sow in containers in a cold frame in the fall. 

When the seedlings are strong enough to be handled, move them to their permanent locations.

Since these plants spread through rhizomes, they are propagated by division in early spring. 

Transplant the divisions directly in the areas you want to grow them to maturity. 

Or move them in 1, 2, or 3-gallon containers.

Carex Sedge Plant Pest or Diseases

Grassland sedges are typically free of most disease and pest problems. 

There won’t be any need for spraying chemically-invasive and harmful repellents and pesticides.

In some areas, leaf spot, smut, and rust can cause occasional problems. 

Fortunately, these are easy to prevent and treat. 

If you notice any of them in your sedges, consult the local greenhouse or gardening center for advice.

This plant is deer-resistant.

Carex Divulsa Plant Uses

Winter hardy Carex sedge is most widely used as a groundcover. 

Mass plantings and group plantings around smaller gardens and borders are beautiful. 

In addition to being ornamental, the plants also stabilize soils and are great for controlling soil erosion and in locations where drought tolerant plants are required.

Can it be used as a lawn substitute? 

Yes, all you have to do it is mow it down. 

It is especially beneficial for small and difficult areas of the landscape.

Besides adding winter interest, you might be surprised but this sedge is also an attraction for pollinators, especially birds. 

They feed on the seeds when they are in abundance on the plant.

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