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  • Author or Editor: Aaron L.M. Daigh x
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Randy S. Nelson, Esther E. McGinnis and Aaron L.M. Daigh

Although sedges (Carex L. spp.) are commonly recommended for planting in rain gardens, little work has been carried out in evaluating the ability of sedge species to tolerate the challenging moisture fluctuations in this environment. Seven sedge species native to the north central United States, yellow fox sedge [Carex annectens (E.P. Bicknell) E.P. Bicknell], plains oval sedge [Carex brevior (Dewey) Mack. ex Lunell], gray’s sedge (Carex grayi J. Carey), porcupine sedge (Carex hystericina Muhl. ex Willd.), palm sedge (Carex muskingumensis Schwein.), pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica Lam.), and sprengel’s sedge (Carex sprengelii Dewey ex Spreng.), were evaluated in a greenhouse trial to determine their ability to tolerate repeated flooding and drought cycles. Treatments consisted of two flood periods (2 or 7 days), followed by one of three drought set points measured by volumetric water content (VWC) thresholds of 0.05 (severe drought), 0.10 (moderate drought), or 0.15 m3·m−3 (drought onset). Each plant was subjected to a minimum of four flooding and drought cycles. For sprengel’s sedge, plains oval sedge, gray’s sedge, and yellow fox sedge, there was no significant difference in shoot counts between severe drought, moderate drought, and drought onset treatments. Shoot mass and root mass for all sedge species were significantly reduced under the severe drought set point. Plants subjected to the 7-day flood treatment exhibited significantly increased shoot mass compared with those in the 2-day flood treatment. Plains oval sedge showed a significantly higher shoot mass than all other species under all treatments. Visible damage ratings suggest that sprengel’s sedge, plains oval sedge, gray’s sedge, and yellow fox sedge could be suitable for the rain garden environment under all but the most extreme drought conditions. Results show that plains oval sedge, yellow fox sedge, and gray’s sedge may be able to tolerate harsh flooding and drought cycles that can occur in rain gardens. For the remaining species, supplemental irrigation of rain gardens should be considered during drought.