Cyperus Plant – lt is easy to see why Cyperus is called the Umbrella plant. The grassy leaves, ranging from hair-like to quite broad depending on the species, radiate from the stiff stalks like the ribs of an open umbrella. There is just one golden rule for success with these plants – keep the roots constantly wet. Place the pot in a saucer or outer container which should always contain water.
The plant is grown for its overall shape rather than the beauty of its foliage – the tiny green and brown flowers are of little decorative value. Cyperus is best grouped with other plants or grown in a bottle garden; choose one of the dwarf-growing types if space is limited.
Cyperus alternifolius ‘Zumula’
Cultivation is straightforward – pests are rarely a problem and it is easy to propagate. Cut out yellowing stems to encourage new growth.
Types of Cyperus
Cyperus papyrus (5-8 ft) is an interesting plant as it was the source of both paper and Moses’ cradle in biblical times, but it is too tall and difficult for most homes. The popular one is C. alternifolius which bears long and narrow leaves and grows about 3 ft tall when mature. There are several attractive varieties, including the white-striped C. variegatus and the dwarf (1-1 ½ ft) Cyperus gracilis. Another compact type is C. diffusus which is easy to find – the 1 ft C. esculentus which produces Tiger nuts underground is much more difficult to obtain. The showiest flower-heads are borne by C. haspan.
Secrets of success
Temperature: Not fussy, but keep at 50°F or above in winter.
Light: Well-lit or light shade, but avoid direct summer sunlight
Water: Keep compost soaked and restrict free drainage.
Air humidity: Mist leaves frequently.
Repotting: Repot in spring every year.
Propagation: Divide plants at repotting time.