Instead of the usual fare, try the Corkscrew rush

On a picture-perfect morning a few weekends back, when a group of us master gardeners were manning a clinic for a fall fair at a local garden center, I couldn’t help glancing at the customer’s purchases as they passed by, even though a fair number of people were coming to our table with queries or concerns. Most of the passersby did not hold my attention, but along came a kind looking woman carrying a large container with a ready-to-go plant combination; the tall, focal plant of that combination happened to be one of my recent favorites: The Corkscrew rush.

Know in botanical language as Juncus effusus ‘Spiralis’, I noticed this unusual plant this past spring when I was shopping for potential annuals and perennials for our summer garden. I had heard about it, but not actually seen one, so, because of a “no-ouch” price sticker, I grabbed a nice looking potted specimen without a second thought. Funnily enough, as I was heading towards the store checkout, several customers stopped me to inquire about the identity of my curious possession!

Fancied for the round, node-less, shiny, contorted branches that become something of a tangled mass at later stages of growth, a container-grown Corkscrew rush is definitely a conversation piece if kept near the entryway of the house. But, when grouped with other plants, like colorful pansies and some trailing ones, the combined effect is even more dramatic.

The plant’s ultimate location depends on the individual’s taste, but Corkscrew rushes do look nice when grown in containers, instead of beds. The plants have a high need of water, and thus have to be kept moist just about all the time. And, though the tag that came with the plant I got suggests that it be grow in full sun, I had to move the pot to a less sunny spot when distinct signs of summer stress began to show. Although of no direct correlation, the move led to an interesting consequence: A clematis that is growing in the vicinity has found its way to the corkscrew rush, and, not only have its wiry branches twined for support, but the delicate flowers seem to be borne right on the naked stems of the rush!    

Gita’s Tip of the Month
Soon it will be time to bring inside the houseplants that have been kept outdoors all summer. Before bringing them in, check for any pests or diseases that the potted plants might have picked up and take appropriate measures to prevent any unmanageable situation.

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