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Sedges are not usually the first kind of plant that comes to mind for pollinator gardens. Sedges are grouped with ‘grass-like’ plants that do not produce showy flowers or nectar. As wind pollinated plants, like grasses, they do not produce nectar and do not need pollinators to move their pollen from plant to plant. But their relationship with pollinators is more in depth and subtle.
Sedges provide food and nesting material for a variety of butterflies, moths and native bees. Some birds, especially waterfowl, and mammals will eat the seeds. Their fibrous root systems hold tightly to the ground, minimizing erosion and filtering water. They also form a strong foundation in landscape design as ground covers and borders.
Hop Sedge, Carex lupulina, is a long-lived perennial native to eastern North America which grows in a variety of soils that are in moist to inundated environments. It is equally at home in full sun to light shade. The species name ‘lupulina’, refers to the hops plant, Humulus lupulus, used in beer making based on a similarly shaped fruiting bodies. The roughly 2 feet tall arching clump of leaves are wedge shaped. Flower stalks develop bristly spikelets that are mostly held erect. Hop sedge is an excellent addition to rain gardens or edges of water bodies.
It's vegetative growth forms in spring with flowers/seeds emerging in summer. It is wind pollinated so does not have showy flowers. Nonetheless some pollinators may briefly harvest pollen. It provides habitat for small mammals, seed for songbirds and likely some caterpillars. It spreads slowly by rhizomes and can grow 2 – 4 feet tall and 1 – 2 feet wide.
After stratification, seeds should germinate withing a couple of weeks. Grow on for two months before transplanting. Once established after a couple of years it may be divided in the spring. Hop Sedge makes a good ground cover or border.
Other sedges of landscape interest:
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