Conjuring images of the Nile River and life in ancient Egypt, papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) is a warmth-loving bog plant that adds a desert-oasis feel to water gardens. Papyrus can be grown outdoors all year in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11. In these areas, papyrus can be planted directly in the ground and requires little special winter care. In cooler climates, plant papyrus in containers to allow for easy movement indoors or overwintering.
1 Cut away any dead culms with a sharp knife or pruning shears. Cut the culm as close to the bottom as possible but do not cut into the rhizomes from which they sprouted. The oldest, most central culms are the ones which die first. Continue pruning any stems that die throughout the winter as you notice them.
2 Move the plant indoors to a sunny location for the winter. Ideally, the winter temperature of the papyrus should be between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but the plant tolerates temperatures as low as 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower the amount of light received by papyrus plants that are overwintered in cool temperatures.
3 Set the papyrus plant in a container of water at least 2 inches deep and make sure it doesn't dry out. You can also keep the plant in a container that doesn't have drainage holes and may prefer this overwintering method if you have young children who may be tempted to put toys, fingers and other goodies in a container of water. Papyrus is a bog plant so you can water it often without worrying about over watering, it wilts when it does not get enough water.
4 Stop fertilizing the papyrus in the winter. Resume your normal fertilization schedule in the spring when the plant has been moved back outdoors.
Items you will need
- Sharp knife or pruning shears
- Tub of water or watertight planting container
- Papyrus is a tall plant and needs to be rooted deeply or grown in a heavy container to keep it from toppling over.
- Split papyrus plants every few years in the spring to prevent them from becoming too open in the center where old culms have died.
- Some gardeners collect seeds pods from the papyrus plant in late summer and store them in a cool, dry place in case the papyrus plant does not survive overwintering for some reason.
- Sunset Western Garden Book; Editors of Sunset Magazine (1995, page 255)
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Cyperus Papyrus King Tut
- Logee's Tropical Plants: Cultural Information - Cyperus
- South African Biodiversity Institute: Cyperus Papyrus
- Fine Gardening: Cyperus Papyrus King Tut (King Tut Papyrus)
- Plants Rescue: Cyperus Papyrus
- Water Gardens International: A Penchant for Papyrus