Papyrus Plant

Botanists classify papyrus together of the sedges, a family associated with the Gramineae . They’re sometimes thought of as ornamental grasses but aren’t true grasses. A “sedge” is defined as a grass-like plant with triangular stems and inconspicuous flowers, usually growing in wet areas.

Papyrus may be a tall, stately plant. The triangular stem grows out of a clump; under the stem lies a thick mass of rhizomes—the means by which the plant spreads. Atop the stem rests the important great thing about this sedge: a showy umbel. The greenish-brown flowers bloom in summer, then subside to the fruits, which look somewhat sort of a nut). But papyrus is primarily a foliage plant: It’s the accompanying “bracts” that make these umbels pop and provides them strong visual appeal.

Botanical NameCyperus papyrus 
Common NamesPapyrus
Plant TypeSedge or rush
Mature Size5 to 8 feet tall; 2- to 4-foot spread
Sun ExposureFull sun to part shade
Soil TypeWet, boggy soil
Soil pH6.0 to 8.5 (Slightly acidic to alkaline)
Flower ColorGreenish-brown
Bloom TimeMid to late summer
Hardiness Zones8 to 10 (USDA)
Native AreaAfrica

How to Grow Papyrus

This plant is native to the marshy borders of the Nile valley in Egypt, so it’ll grow best in locations simulating that environment: constantly wet and sunny. The soil should be fertile; barren soils will got to be amended before planting.

If you don’t have compost to use to amend the soil and must accept a billboard product, apply a balanced fertilizer at planting time (err on the side of caution and use half the recommended amount) and water it in thoroughly.

Papyrus plants aren’t much work if you’ll be treating them as annuals. But if you reside during a warm climate and need to grow papyrus plants year-to-year, divide them in spring to stay them vigorous. As a part of the division process, trim away a number of the older, less healthy rhizomes while you’re at it. For cosmetic purposes, you’ll clean off any vegetation that browns up. remember that papyrus is taken into account invasive within the most southerly parts of the U.S.

This is a troublesome plant, and you shouldn’t assume that you’ve lost a specimen simply because it’s dead. If the foliage turns brown, trim the stems right down to within a few of inches of the bottom and supply it with water. Within three weeks, new, green shoots may emerge.


These plants prefer full sun but will tolerate part shade, especially within the hottest climates.


Papyrus grows only in wet, boggy soil like swampy areas, space around landscape ponds, and rain gardens that see constant moisture. The soil should be quite fertile.


This plant needs manymoisture. Constant “wet feet” is preferable; in dryer locations, you’ll get to water it daily.

Temperature and Humidity

Papyrus maybeplant indigenous to northern Africa, thus, it’ll survive as a hardy perennial in North America only in planting zones 8 and warmer; zone 8 may require winter mulching to guard the plants. In colder zones, papyrus is usually grown as a potted plant sitting in standing water; it’s brought indoors to a sunroom or greenhouse for the winter.


Grown within the properly fertile soil, papyrus plants don’t require feeding. In poorer soils, amend the soil with organic material before planting.

Pruning Papyrus

In zones where they’re perennial, papyrus foliage should be crop to ground level within the fall or early spring. Where grown as an annual, pull out the whole plant and discard it within the fall.

Propagating Papyrus

This plant is often divided in early spring. the basis clumps easily separate into pieces for replanting.

Varieties of Papyrus

A dwarf version of this plant, designated as C. p. ‘Nanus’ or C. profiler, typically grows to only 2 to three feet tall.

Besides the species version of papyrus , there are several related species available commercially, including some dwarf types:

  • Umbrella sedge, or “umbrella palm” (Cyperus alternifolius): 24 to 60 inches tall
  • Dwarf umbrella plant (Cyperus alternifolius ‘Gracilis’): 24 inches tall
  • Dwarf papyrus (Cyperus happens): 18 to 30 inches tall
  • Giant dwarf papyrus (Cyperus percamenthus): 30 to 36 inches tall
  • ‘King Tut‘: 48 to 60 inches tall
  • ‘Baby Tut’: 12 to 24 inches tall

Papyrus vs. Other Sedges

Many plants within the Cyperaceae became popular in landscaping as go-to plants for boggy spots within the yard, especially the genus (Carex), referred to as truth sedges. The variegated Carex phyllocephala ‘Spark Plug’ is an example. This palm-sedge cultivar may be a great substitute for invasive reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea). ‘Spark Plug’ may be a clumping plant that reaches about 1 foot tall (with a selection of slightly but that), perennial in zones 8 to 10. Unlike papyrus, it wants part shade to full shade, so it can function a substitute for papyrus in shady areas.

But Chinese water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis) is additionally a sedge, as is that the tenacious weed, nutgrass (Cyperus rotundus). So this family is sort of diverse and not always useful within the yard.

Historical Significance

Papyrus maybe a plant brimming with historical significance. alongside perhaps being the bulrush mentioned within the Old Testament (where baby Moses was discovered), papyrus is most famous for being the writing material employed by ancient Egyptians. But its use as an ancient writing material spread well beyond Egypt’s borders. Papyrus was the writing material of choice until the 7th century or 8th century CE when parchment supplanted it.

While paper involves mind first and foremost once we consider the historical uses for papyrus (the word “paper” does, after all, derive from the Latin word, “papyrus”), it’s had many other uses, including as medicine, food, and artifact .

Landscape Uses

Although you don’t need to treat papyrus as a water plant (for example, you’ll grow it during a container garden for the patio, as long as you water enough), it’s most valued as an honest wet-area plant. you’ll use it in rain gardens, and it makes for a wonderful addition to a water feature. But this is often a marginal plant (like marsh marigold), not a deep-water plant, so be careful that you simply don’t drown it. It’s alright to submerge the baseball, but not the crown.

Consequently, people that want to grow papyrus plants during a water garden typically place them right in their pots. you’ll need to fiddle with the extent to urge it good this is often easily accomplished by build up bases under your pots to elevate them in order that the crowns of the plants aren’t submerged. A tall papyrus in such a pot can become top-heavy, so consider weighting down the container with stones.

Papyrus plant works well because the focus of an appointment of varied aquatic plants, with shorter plants surrounding it. While its flowers aren’t showy, it could function the child for so-called “architectural plants,” because of the peak it achieves, the sleekness of its leafless stalk, and therefore the bold statement made by its fascinating umbels.

While papyrus plants are perennials in warm climates, within the North, many gardeners use them as if they were annuals. Ambitious gardeners who own greenhouses sometimes overwinter them indoors during a greenhouse or sunroom, but the typical person may find it easier to exchange plants yearly.

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