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.
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.
More Varieties of Sweet Flag
Acorus gramineus 'Minimus Aureus' reaches only 4 inches tall but forms a clump up to 1 foot wide. Zones 6-11.
Acorus gramineus 'Ogon' makes a 1-foot tuft of grassy golden leaves striped with green. Its foliage is evergreen in warm climates. Zones 6-11.
Acorus calamus 'Variegatus' forms an upright plant with striking green-and-white striped foliage stretching 3 to 5 feet tall. Zones 4-11.
Plant Sweet Flag With:
Hibiscus flowers might be the most dramatic in the garden and can bloom as large as a child's head in gorgeous colors. The hibiscus plant itself is large and dramatic, and it needs plenty of space to show off. Although the huge funnel-shape flowers seldom last more than a day, they are abundant and the plant blooms over several weeks. The large leaves tend to draw Japanese beetles. Hibiscus needs plenty of water, so grow it in rich, loose, well-drained soil where you can water it easily and regularly during dry spells.
The curious corkscrew rush loves wet or boggy conditions. It makes a fascinating architectural accent in planters, beds, and moist borders. It's technically leafless, with green cylindrical stems that are pointed at the tip. Plant rush alongside streams and ponds, though it will tolerate dryer conditions elsewhere. It's excellent in container gardens.
Pitcher plants are one of those cool carnivorous plants; they can devour insects. But don't let this amazing fact overshadow their inherent beauty. They produce fascinating pendant chartreuse or purple flowers in spring. Pitcher plants are fascinating to grow, and adapt well to containers where the plants can be observed up close. In mild regions, they can also be grown in acid bog gardens. They do not need a diet of insects -- the insects are attracted by nectar at the base of the pitchers and slide down and drown in collected liquid at the base. The tall pitchers of some species are cut and dried for indoor arrangements, but only remove a few to retain the vitality of the plants.