Cyperus: Greenhouse Plants

W – warm, minimum of 13°C (55°F)

Family: Cyperaceae

Umbrella plants make effective plantings around indoor ponds, or good pot plants either as specimens or grown as a batch to be used as foliage around more decorative plants. Most commonly grown is Cyperus alternifolius from Madagascar. It will grow to a graceful 1.2 m (4 ft) or more. C. diffusus is much smaller, about 45 cm (18 in) in height, and has slightly wider leaves and a generally more squat appearance. These two species are very easy to grow, but although they should never dry out it is not essential to have them standing in water. Propagation is either by seed, division or by cuttings. These plants have a way of propagating themselves naturally; the umbrella part of the plant consists of very closely packed leaves on a stem. This growth of leaves will bend down and into the water of their native habitat and in time roots will grow from the nodes around the leaves and stems. A new plant will grow upwards towards the light and air, which, when the old stalk has rotted, will float away to start a new colony. We can use this ability be either cutting off the umbrellas and upending them in water (a milk bottle is ideal), or the umbrellas can be cut off with a small length of stem attached, the leaves are trimmed and the cutting inserted upside down into cutting compost with the stalk sticking up in the air.

C. papynis is the plant from which the ancient Egyptians made their writing paper of the same name. A tall plant of 3 m (10 ft) it is extremely showy and graceful. However, it needs tropical conditions to do well. All the best specimens I have seen have been planted by tropical pools and not actually in the water. Seed or division are the best methods of propagating this one.

12. July 2013 by admin
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