Wednesday, October 01, 2014
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Native Grasses for Shade to Part Shade
Canada Wildrye Elymus canadensis A cool-season bunchgrass, with delicate, wheatlike heads produced to 3.5 feet in early summer. Ages to tan, stays upright for months thereafter. Two forms: "Upright" is stiffly upright and tolerates deep shade to full sun. "Weeping" heads bowed over, delicately moving in wind, best in full sun. Hardy to Zone 4, well-drained soils, occasional watering OK.  Canada Wildrye ( Elymus canadensis var. canadensis) weeping Canada Wildrye (Elymus canadensis var. canadensis) upright

Inland Seaoats Chasmanthium latifolium A warm-season bunchgrass from 1" rhizomes with lax, tropical foliage topped by hanging bangles. Must grow in shade or becomes burned, bleached. To 3 feet tall, hardy to zone 4, becomes sandy in winter. Occasional irrigation OK. Inland Seaoats (Chasmanthium latifolium)

Cherokee Caric Sedge Carex cherokeensis It produces a slightly coarse bunch of foliage which mixes with neighboring plants to make a taller groundcover about a solid foot tall.  It grows well in swales and in sandy shade in floodplains.  With regular irrigation on black clay soils it grows even better.  Dappled shade to full sun, this plant remains active and green throughout the summer months, if irrigated, and remains green during the winter, making it a nearly permanent groundcover.  Mow it in late August just before the first fall cold front, and regrowth should start quickly.  The hanging-lantern heads give it a particular spring effect.  It must be regularly irrigated on hillsides and hilltops.


Leavenworth Caric Sedge Carex leavenworthii Milines Leavenworth Caric Sedge, shortened here to Leavenworth Caric Sedge, grows in huge swaths under my Post Oaks, in floodplain areas.  It mixes well with native onions, Ruellia runyonii, Missouri Violets, and other groundcover-type species in shady swales.  It will grow out into sunny areas, but seems to prefer shade.  The seedheads resemble sandburs, but are harmless and shed by June.  The foliage is finer textured and no taller than 12”, but lax and flowing together between plants.  This species grows even better on black clay soils under irrigation.  Irrigation is needed to keep it green in the summer, after which there is a fall flush.  Mow it in late August just before the first fall cold front, and continue irrigation.  It remains green over winter, simply slowing growth, and then produces the seedheads again in the spring.