Cyperus papyrus is a plant straight from Egyptian history. The plant is a warm season sedge that is found along the Nile and other waterways in Africa, Madagascar and the Mediterranean. It was traditionally used to make a type of paper in ancient Egypt. The plant grows from rhizomes which are extremely sensitive to freezing temperatures. In areas of light frost the sedge will go dormant and new culms will form the following spring. Many gardeners grow the plant as an annual because it takes so long to come back that it's easier just to buy another papyrus plant.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Hand saw
- Large pot
- Potting soil
Cut the plant back in the autumn when the culms begin to turn yellow and die. Dig out the roots of the plant and brush off the excess soil. The cyperus papyrus grows in a clump of rhizomes, and the root ball should be fairly contained. Papyrus is a tender perennial that must be brought indoors in zones below United States Department of Agriculture Zone 9.
Pull the pot out of the water if the plant was grown in a water garden and allow it to drain. After it drains, remove the plant from the basket. Trim the roots of the papyrus. Cut out any rhizomes that have discoloured or rotted. This is a good time to divide the plant if necessary and treat the two halves as individual plants. Use a handsaw to cut the rhizomes in half.
Fill a pot that is 1 or 2 inches wider than the root ball of the sedge half way with potting soil; the pot needs to be twice as deep as the root ball. Nestle the roots of the sedge into the pot and fill it the rest of the way with potting soil. Press the soil in around the rhizomes of the plant. Water until the moisture drips out of the drainage holes.
Place the pot on a saucer filled with water in a warm room with dim light. The temperature should be at least 18.3 degrees Celsius. Change the water in the saucer frequently to avoid bugs and algae.
Move the plant to a sunny room in late winter or early spring to give the newly forming foliage energy. When temperatures have reached 15.5 to 18.3C outdoors, gradually reintroduce the plant to the exterior. Add gravel to the top of the pot and submerge the pot into a water feature or dig a hole twice as large as the root ball and plant the sedge.
Tips and warnings
- In gardens with mild freezes, cut back the plant and mulch it heavily with 3 to 4 inches of organic material. Pull the mulch away from the plant in spring.
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