HOW TO GROW CYPERUS (umbrella plant)

10 deg C/50 deg F

The common name of these plants is an apt one. as the leaves are borne like the spokes of an umbrella at the top of a stout, long stem. They are also aquatic plants, making them ideal for anyone too generous with the watering-can – a frequent cause of houseplant failure. Two species are common as house-plants. both native to warm countries-(.’. altermfolius and C. dijfusiis; the latter is usually taller. They are best grown with their pots standing in a shallow pan of water, something that must never he done with the majority of houseplants. To keep the water fresh it should be changed daily.

When potting them, it is a good idea to include some small pieces of charcoal with the compost, to keep it fresh. This lessens the risk of unpleasant smells which may arise when wet compost becomes sour. However, these plants are adapted to thrive in rather mucky bogs. Like most aquatic plants, they can become rampant and invasive. If this happens, they can be reduced in size by division of the roots. They can also be grown from seed.

These plants are especially useful for placing in groups needing higher humidity. The flowers are brownish spike-lets borne at the tops of the umbrella formation.

The impressive C. papyrus, the famous Egyptian paper-rush, is sometimes seen as a houseplant where there is space to display its grandeur. It is extremely easy to grow from seed, and from a spring sowing plants at least 90cm (3ft) in height can be obtained by the end of summer. The tall stems have, at the top. a dense cluster of thin foliage, and the plants can be placed by patio doors or near picture-windows where there is plenty of light. Because of their size it is not usually practical to grow them during winter.

Cyperus plants are not often attacked by pests, but red spider mites should be watched for. They should be suspected if there is any sign of yellowing of the upper foliage and it is very important to take prompt action. During summer. spray the foliage with water in an upward direction.

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