Why plant Audubon® Native Soft Rush?
“Sedges have edges, but rushes are round”—so goes the saying that helps students distinguish between these two grass-like plants. Soft Rush is easily identified by its slim, smooth, cylindrical stems, rising up from the boggy soils it inhabits. This dapper native performs valuable functions in nature as a stabilizer of mucky soil alongside lakes, ponds, and bogs, and as habitat for waterfowl and other wetland residents. Its seeds are also munched on occasionally by birds. Soft Rush is commonly used in stormwater management projects, bioswales, and rain gardens, but it can be planted in any kind of garden that doesn’t get too dry. A nice spiky element that’s actually soft to the touch.
If success for a plant is measured by how many regions it inhabits, then Soft Rush is a world champion! Adaptable and resilient, it has managed to gain a foothold just about everywhere there is soggy soil. The species is native to North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. In the U.S., it’s common east of the Mississippi River as well as on the West Coast. In the British Isles, Soft Rush was once used extensively to make rushlights, which were like cheap candles. In Japan, this plant is used to weave tatami mats, which serve as the requisite flooring in traditional homes.
How to use Audubon® Native Soft Rush in the landscape?
Try it in a container! Soft Rush can be grown in a pot to lend a spiky accent to your deck or patio. Place it in a dish of water to make irrigation easier—this plant does not need good drainage.
Hardiness Zone: 3-9
How To Plant Audubon® Native Soft Rush
It should be clear by now that Soft Rush loves wet soil! A site at the edge of a pond is where it will be happiest and easiest to maintain. You should know that constantly wet soil is not a requirement, however. Regular garden conditions will suffice as long as the plant doesn’t have to endure any periods of prolonged dryness. In drier spots, it will not grow as tall. Plant Soft Rush in full sun in any kind of soil, including heavy clay. In mild climates, the foliage is evergreen. In colder areas, cut back the tattered foliage in early spring to make way for fresh new growth.
How To Water
Water twice weekly for the first 3-5 weeks; then water weekly for the remainder of the year until winter. When you water, water slowly and thoroughly. Watering needs may be altered due to extreme weather conditions.
How To Fertilize
Incorporate Elements Starter Plant food granular form into the soil when planting. If planting in spring or summer start fertilizing late fall using Elements Starter Plant food granular form on an annual basis each late year. Continue this for three years to get your plant well established.
How To Prune
Each fall, just before winter sets in clean up the previous years foliage and compost it. Be sure your perennials are mulched well for winter protection. Two inches of an organic mulch will do the job. Consider leaving the plant debris in place through the winter and doing your clean up on the weather warms in the spring. While it doesn't make things neat and tidy, the debris provides overwintering protection for insects, their eggs and pupae including our native Viceroy butterfly.