Umbrella Palm

Umbrella Palm (Cyperus alternifolius), also known as Umbrella Papyrus, is native to Mauritius and Madagascar where it grows as a wild plant. It grows in the form of shrubs and in most cases these are wrongly mistaken for grasses with which they have little in common, apart from appearance. It has several stems growing directly upward from a mass of roots and an umbrella-shaped cluster of leaves at the top of each stem. The leaves of the umbrella plant are narrow and flattened and only 6″ to 10″ long. All the leaves are arranged atop triangular stems. It is simple to grow, but it requires plenty of water and dew (Umbrella plant is happy growing in shallow water but can also handle drier situations, like in your garden perennial bed.).

Umbrella palm can be grown as an accent plant. It forms a nice background plant in the garden. It could also be incorporated into a rockery which includes a water feature.


Umbrella palm is a wonderful decoration of garden ponds, but is very effective as a house plant. The Umbrella plant is an excellent accent plant for patios. In the home it may be grown beside or in the shallow water in a paludarium placed in a warm room. The compost must be sufficiently nourishing, composed, for example, of loam mixed with rotted turves, sand and some peat. Also, this is one of the rare indoor plants that likes to be kept soaking wet at all times; it is easily grown in a dish of water.


Fertilize the plant monthly during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer diluted to 1/2 the strength recommended on the label.

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Propagation is not difficult. The plants may be divided when they are moved (but they should be moved as little as possible as they will form nice clumps only if left undisturbed) or by cutting off the terminal rosette of leaves together with a piece of stem about 1 cm (Va in) long and placing it either on the surface of water or in a muddy compost in a warm propagator, where it will soon form roots.


For optimal shape, the dead or broken stems should be removed, and every couple of years, the overgrown center should be dug out, saving the outside divisions.

Pests and diseases: Spider mite is of greatest concern for this plant.

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