Carex is actually a sedge. The difference is that the stems of a sedge are solid while the stems of grass are hollow in most species. Grass stems also have joints, while sedge stems don’t. Carex forms clumps and has the advantage over other ornamental grasses in that it does well in shade, which makes it good for placing in a shady border or at the edge of a shaded path. The clumps are so dense that they discourage weeds.
Carex pensylvanica flowers very early in the spring. The plant contains both male and female flowers and does best in hardiness zones 3 to 9. It grows from six to 18 inches high and prefers moist, well-drained soil.
Bulrushes also belong to the sedge family. There are about 150 species of bulrush. They like wet places and are a good plant to place around a pond or water feature. Bulrushes grow from between one and 10 feet tall and have green or brown flowers, triangular stems and long, thin, strap-like leaves. Like carex, they grow best in hardiness zones 3 to 9.
This grass, also called eulalia, is grown for its beautiful plumes and its height. It can grow to 10 feet tall, with narrow, three to four foot long leaves. The plumes last from summer until fall. This grass, which is in fact a member of the grass family, likes full sun and well-drained soil.