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Sweet flag is a grasslike, low-maintenance perennial. It grows well in moist soil or several inches of standing water, making it an excellent choice when used as an accent plant in water gardens or moist, marshy areas along shorelines. Sweet flag spreads slowly over time via rhizomes and forms a dense groundcover, but it is not considered invasive. The foliage of sweet flag has a light, sweet scent when crushed.
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Commonly, sweet flag is a grass green color. While it isn't the showiest of plants, it does add a textural component to a garden or container. Along with the common green types, there are several other varieties of sweet flag in assorted and variegated colors. Some are variegated with a golden stripe on one side and a green stripe on the other. Most varieties are a vibrant chartreuse yellow, which contrasts with rich-colored but not showy flowers. You can also find white variegated varieties as well. The tiny, insignificant yellow-green flowers bloom on lateral flower spikes; you will see these blossoms from spring to early summer, but they typically are only develop when growing in water.
The subtle, sweet smell and flavor of this grasslike plant has long been prized for making a soothing, sweet tea. The slightly bitter roots can also be used in cooking and have been known to be a substitute for spices such as cinnamon and ginger. Just be careful to use them in moderation as the rootstocks can have a stimulating effect and mild psychoactive properties. These plants also have insecticidal characteristics, and the leaves used to be harvested and placed in closets to impart a slightly sweet scent to repel insect pests.
Sweet Flag Care Must-Knows
Sweet flag will grow easily in medium to wet soil and boggy areas, and does well in anything from full sun to part shade. The soil should never be allowed to dry out; if your plant has scorched leaf tips and withering leaves, it is too dry and needs to be watered. Sweet flag really thrives in water gardens. Plant it in containers and allow enough water to cover the crown of the plant, or place sweet flag in soil at the water's edge. Sweet flag appreciates relief from hot summer sun with either afternoon shade or filtered sun. Because of its slow-growing nature by rhizomes, these plants are easily divided. This also helps to encourage a nice new flush of growth and can be done regularly every few years to rejuvenate them.