Native to Asia
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’ is a low rhizomatous perennial sedge. Foliage is evergreen or semi-evergreen and arching. Blades are variegated with an emerald green stripe down the center and crisp white borders along the edges. This cultivar prospers in moist well drained or wet soils in part shade to shade.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: The parent species Carex morrowii occurs on forested slopes in Japan’s volcanic Izu Islands.
Plantsman and author Barry Yinger discovered ‘Ice Dance’ during a plant scouting trip in Japan. Yinger brought his find to the U. S. and trialed it in his gardens. The cultivar was introduced by Hines Nursery in 1996.
‘Ice Dance’ was selected for its dramatic variegation and spreading habit. Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 5-9.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’ forms handsome tussocks of arching evergreen foliage.
Blades are narrow and about 1/2” wide and 15” long. The leathery foliage has a striking jade green color with prominent white edges.
In spring insignificant brownish flower spikes appear followed by clusters of brown seed.
‘Ice Dance’ averages 12” height with 18” spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’ prospers in partly shaded sites with rich moist well drained soil. Established plantings persevere in seasonally wet sites but will not survive in sites that are consistently boggy.
Plants tolerate partial sun, dry shade and sandy or clay soils. This cultivar will thrive in full sun in cooler regions if soil is consistently moist.
This is a cool season sedge that does much of its growing during chilly weather. Mulch helps to protect roots from cold and conserve water in summer. Plants should be groomed or cut to the ground in late winter to remove tattered foliage and make way for new foliage.
This sedge is pest resistant and fairly unpalatable to deer and other herbivores.
Plants spread slowly by rhizomes to form colonies or masses. ‘Ice Dance’ is not excessively invasive but is vigorous enough to be competitive with weeds.
LANDSCAPE USES: Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’ is a handsome Groundcover that brightens the Shade Garden. The cultivar is sometimes used as an Accent, Edging or Container Specimen. The foliage is lovely when planted at the margin of a Water Garden and observed in reflection. This sedge provides Winter Interest to Deer Resistant Plantings, Perennial Borders, Rain Gardens or Rock Gardens.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Try pairing Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’ with Dicentra eximia, Heuchera americana 'Dales Strain', Iris cristata, Osmunda cinnamomea or Phlox divaricata. This cultivar pairs nicely with exotic hostas and is an appropriate substitute for Asian Liriope spp. groundcovers.
Carex ‘Evergold’ is another exotic sedge with colorful foliage that can be substituted if needed. ‘Ice Dance’ has crisp white variegation and ‘Evergold’ is more of a creamy yellow.
TRIVIA: Carex spp. is a large genus containing over 1500 species and numerous cultivars of these species. The study of Carex is known as caricology.
Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’ received the prestigious Outstanding Plant Award from the International Hardy Plant Union in 2002 and the Missouri Botanical Garden Plants of Merit Award.