How to Grow Santa Barbara Sedge

Santa Barbara sedge. image by Jennifer Anderson @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database


Santa Barbara sedge, known botanically as carex barbarae, is a perennial ornamental grass that is native to California and Oregon. It grows by creeping rhizomes with a clumping habit and easily naturalizes in coastal foothills, ranges, woodland perimeters, on grades and flat lands. It blooms in early spring with seed heads maturing following bloom. It will readily self sow in the summer and fall.

Step 1

Provide your Santa Barbara sedge with a partial shade or filtered shade sun exposure. Direct sun in low moisture settings will likely dry out the grass and stunt its growth.

Step 2

Grow Santa Barbara sedge in average nutrient soils as it will adapt to nearly all soil conditions. Chemical fertilizers are not required nor necessarily desirable in the natural habitat.

Step 3

Irrigate your Santa Barbara sedge to mimic the moisture it receives in its natural habitat. Provide wet soils in winter and spring and low moisture conditions throughout the rest of the year.

Step 4

Transplant clumps of sedge rhizomes and soil if you want to spread the plants quickly. Dig up large 6 to 8-inch chunks of rhizome-loaded soil and transplant into moist well-tilled soil in the new location. Keep moist until the roots have a chance to establish themselves in the new site.

Step 5

Allow seed heads to mature on the stalk and self sow in the summer and fall. Alternatively, collect the seed heads and place in a jar or plastic bag and shake or rub to release the seeds. Plant the seeds in tilled and loosened soil so that they are nestled in the soil but not covered over as they require light to germinate. Water in lightly and well so as not to wash away the seeds and keep the soil and seed moist through germination.

Things You'll Need

  • Rhizomes, culms or seeds
  • Hand trowel
  • Glass jar or plastic bag


  • California State University Chico
  • USDA Plant Database profile
  • Washburn University
Keywords: Santa Barbara sedge, Carex barbarae, perennial ornamental grass

About this Author

A communications professional, D.C. Winston has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals and film/broadcast media. Winston studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.

Photo by: Jennifer Anderson @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database