Plant This: Sparkler sedge brightens the shade


Carex phyllocephala ‘Sparkler’ brightens the shade with creamy, striped foliage and a starburst shape reminiscent of a child’s sparkler firework. I brought a large clump of sparkler sedge with me when I moved and spaded it into three divisions, which I planted under live oaks near the circle garden. Since then, they’ve filled in nicely and really light up the shady space.


I’m very pleased with how they’ve performed even with our dry conditions and extreme heat. Mind you, I do water them, but no more than anything else in the new garden, and planted as they are on top of oak roots, I expect they’re tolerating fairly dry soil. They do not receive any direct sun, which I think is key.


In this combo from my old garden, I found that the cool red of Texas betony (Stachys coccinea ) stood out beautifully in front of sparkler sedge, and they both enjoyed the shady conditions provided by a cedar elm. I need to go raid some betony from my old garden, now that I think about it.


Image courtesy of morgueFile

Speaking of sparklers…

Happy Independence Day, America! I hope everyone has a fun 4th of July holiday with family and friends.

Note: My Plant This posts are written primarily for gardeners in central Texas. The plants I recommend are ones I’ve grown myself and have direct experience with. I wish I could provide more information about how these plants might perform in other parts of the country, but gardening knowledge is local. Consider checking your local online gardening forums to see if a particular plant might work in your region.

All material © 2006-2009 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

23 Responses

  1. Janet says:

    Happy Fourth of July to you too!! Love the Sparkler Carex…have a new one. Cross your fingers it survives.

  2. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Pam, what a great plant pairing idea! I do believe I’ll borrow it. My Sparkler sedge has taken off nicely and I should be able to divide it in the fall.

    Happy 4th to you & yours, too!

  3. HI, Pam, Happy 4th! Bet things are popping soon down there in Texas! Thanks for sharing your sparkler plant! Good to know about!

  4. Gail says:

    Pam…This is a great carex…and it looks stellar with the limestone. Happy Fourth to you Pam! gail

  5. Les says:

    Happy Independence Day to you as well. I love the carex and it does well for me. Only one problem, the dogs devoured it when they felt the urge to eat grass.

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I wonder if that grass would grow here. I have some dry shade. I like the way it stands up a little. It has a descriptive name.

    Happy 4th of July to you too…

  7. Jean says:

    I saw that carex in one of the gardening magazines and thought it was something I should probably procure. Now you’ve confirmed it. Hope you have a great 4th!

  8. Happy 4th to you too! I love the grass. The carex is awesome! -Jackie

  9. ESP says:

    Hi Pam.
    Carex!
    What a stunner, and I have a great location for it under my post oak.
    Where did you find it, locally?
    Must have some.
    What a great festive plant, and it looks great up against that boulder.
    Happy sparkler day Pam.
    ESP.

    Philip, I think I bought the sparkler sedge at Barton Springs Nursery, about two or three years ago. It was a Monrovia plant, and priced accordingly, unfortunately. However, it grew quickly for me, and I was able to divide it when I moved to the new house last fall. —Pam

  10. My constant battle with nutgrass (a sedge, right?) has me down on all sedges . . . I’ve been enjoying all the ones you’ve been sharing with us. I may have to quit banning the entire family just because of one bad apple.

  11. Tatyana says:

    It’s a new plant for me, and I love it! Thank you Pam!

  12. Wow, that’s some sedge! I thought sedges tended to like it wet, but that shows what I know! Happy holiday weekend!

  13. Chris G says:

    Hey Pam – Happy 4th. I’ve got lots of gardening time planned….. There will be lots of water breaks to keep me from heat stroke. Loved the carex. Very nice.

  14. carolyngail says:

    Big fan of Carex, too, Pam. That one’s a real winner.

    Happy July 4th to you and yours.

  15. Jenny says:

    Happy 4th to you and your family too. What a lovely post to celebrate the day.

  16. bangchik says:

    Happy fourth of July….
    ~ bangchik

  17. Megan says:

    I have C. sparkler, I love the leaves, my only complaint is that it looks a little leggy in my garden, but the way you have it next to a rock looks much better. Mine gets dappled sun, it seems it looks nicer as you have it in full shade. And perhaps I needed to be more generous with the water during its first year. These pictures give me hope it can shape up.

  18. eliz says:

    Bright sparkler for shade! That’s all I need to hear. I had heard about sedge for shady areas and definitely want to try this.

  19. haven’t seen this particular carex before and am constanty on the lookout for new shade foliage plants. As always, thanks for being a great place to visit for new ideas!

  20. Nicole says:

    Happy 4th July!

  21. Pam, I was just thinking of you and about to ask about your Sparkler. And voila! Mine is not looking too thrilled. I’m wondering if it’s too shady, though you says yours doesn’t get direct sunlight. Not sure what’s up with it because I sure like it. If it recovers, I’ll definitely try the betony under it!

  22. Diana says:

    Love the contrast on that Sparkler Sedge — I think that might be just what I need for some empty spots in the shady bed. Where did you get it? Happy 4th!

  23. Diana says:

    oops – nevermind! I posted my comment and then went back to read the rest of the comments, including your answer to my question…

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