Papyrus (Cyperus) - Cyperaceae - How to Care, Grow and Bloom Papyrus Plants

Papyrus (Cyperus) - Cyperaceae - How to Care, Grow and Bloom Papyrus Plants



Papyrus, this incredible plant is very widespread and cultivated both for the beauty of its fronds and for the ease of cultivation.






: Angiosperms


: Monocotyledons


: Commelinoids











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The papyrus, this extraordinary plant with a very characteristic appearance is native to the humid and marshy areas of several countries: South America, Africa, Asia and Europe.

To the kindCyperus about 600 species belong and among them the best known is Cyperus papyrus commonly called papyrus

It belongs to the

family of Cyperaceae

and they are plants with a very voluminous rhizome with few leaves at the base and with very long stems ending in a tuft of bracts, gathered in umbels, curved downwards. The stem is straight, without knots, mostly with a triangular section and with abundant pith. The stem but especially the leaves are silica impregnating which makes them solid and with a thick cutting edge.


lead to their ends of


linear, thin, arched and arranged umbel which bear in their central part the flowers are gathered in usually terminal inflorescences in the shape of a spike or cluster or glomerulus.

The fruit

it is an achene.

Given the large number of species, there are both rustic varieties that grow quietly outdoors in humid environments and varieties that are well suited to apartment life.

The cultivated species are perennial.


There are about 600 species ofCyperus among which we remember:


TheCyperus papyrus, a native of North Africa, was known to the ancient Egyptians who used it to find sheets on which to write.

The plant can reach 3-4 meters in height which end with showy inflorescences. The leaves are narrow and not very showy. The fan-like inflorescences are formed by feathery spikelets that bloom from July to September.Their peculiarity are the triangular stems that at the base can be as large as 8 cm.


TheCyperus alternifolium native to Madagascar, it is a perennial species and is known asfalse papyrus and it is the most widespread. It has a smaller size than the Cyperus papirus, in fact it does not exceed the meter in height and the flowers are carried by spike-shaped inflorescences that bloom in summer.It is a species that adapts well to growing in apartments and grows luxuriantly.

There are several varieties:

Cyperus alternifolius 'Gracilis'

which remains small in size and the

Cyperus alternifolius 'Variegatus'

with white leaves.


TheCyperus rotundus it is native to India and can reach up to one meter in height.


The particularity of the Cyperus albostriatusare the leaves that have cream and yellow streaks.


TheCyperus diffusus it is a species that does not reach considerable dimensions and has long stems which lead to their top some long bracts of a beautiful green-brown color. It produces showy inflorescences.


TheCyperus longus It is a beautiful papyrus that reaches one meter in height with large leaves and showy inflorescences and long hanging bracts. It blooms in late summer - early autumn.


TheCyperus haspan it is typical of hot humid areas. It has sturdy cylindrical section stems that reach one meter in height with short leaves. It blooms in the summer. It reaches one meter in height.


The Cyperus brevifolius it is native to the tropical areas of America. It has a bushy habit and also reaches the meter in height with triangular section stems.


The Cyperus vegetus is a plant native to South America. with feathery inflorescences.


It is not difficult to cultivate the papyrus if you take into account the fact that they are plants of swampy environments. Consequently, their first characteristic is to keep the plant in an environment with a high level of humidity and abundant light.

As the plant grows and the stems dry out, they will be removed by cutting them at the base with well cleaned and disinfected phobics.

Papyrus thrives well at temperatures between 20-27 ° C with very high relative humidity. In summer, when temperatures can rise above the indicated threshold, it is best not to leave the plant under the sun but move it to a bright place but not under the direct rays of the sun.

During the autumn - winter period they vegetate well at temperatures around 15 ° C.


Papyrus is a plant that needs a lot of water. It is therefore advisable to place the pot in a saucer where there is also 10cm of water constantly present so that the plant can absorb it freely both in summer and in winter. For this purpose it takes advantage of frequent nebulizations.

But be careful not to leave the soaked soil that can cause rot.


The Papyrus is repotted when the roots have occupied the whole pot in early spring. It is important to use a very porous soil in order not to let the water stagnate. For this purpose, a good fertile soil mixed with chopped carbonella is used.


During the spring - summer period, fertilize every two weeks using a liquid fertilizer diluted with irrigation water. During the other periods, suspend the fertilizations.

For all green plants, that is to say for those plants that develop many leaves, it is preferable to use fertilizers that have a fairly high nitrogen content (N) which favors the development of the green parts. Therefore, make sure that in addition to having the so-called macroelements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and that among these nitrogen is in greater quantity than it also has microelements such as magnesium (Mg), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), all important for a correct and balanced growth of the plant.


The flowering of the papyrus occurs from the month of July until September. The flowers are gathered in usually terminal inflorescences in the shape of a spike or digrapolo or glomerulus.


Papyrus is usually not pruned. The leaves that gradually dry up must simply be eliminated to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for parasitic diseases.

Make sure that the tool you use for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably with a flame) to avoid infecting the tissues.


The papyrus can be reproduced both by dividing the plant and by leaf cutting, by seed or by bending of the stem.


In spring, the papyrus plant is divided. To do this, the plant is gently removed from the pot and a little earth is shaken off the roots.

He divides the plant in two trying not to break the roots too much at the moment of division. Eliminate the old or woody roots and transplant the two portions in two pots with the soil suitable for adult plants.


In this type of propagation, a stem with an inflorescence is cut. The leaves are then cut for about half of their length and placed upside down in a container full of water (or in a plate full of sand which must be kept constantly wet).

The cutting is placed in a bright place and with a temperature around 21 ° C. At the time of the birth of the roots and new shoots, the papyrus cutting is transplanted into a pot with soil as for adult plants.


This method of propagation is mainly used for the Cyperus alternifoliusand the Cyperus haspan. In practice, a stem with the inflorescences bends from the mother plant and is buried in a pot containing the compost of the adult plants.

The plant should be kept at a temperature around 21 ° C and in a bright place (but not in direct sun). After a short time the roots and new shoots will siform and at that point it detaches from the mother plant and is grown normally as an adult plant.


Leaves that start to rot at the base and have brown spots

If the leaves show this symptom it means that the plant has been watered excessively and the roots / rhizome are rotting.
Remedies: immediately remove the plant from the pot and cut the rotten parts of the rhizome and let it dry for about a week in the air. The affected leaves are also cut and all the cutting surfaces are treated with a sulfur-based powder. After which it is repotted taking care to regulate the watering.

Leaves that lose their mottling and appear completely green

This is the classic low light symptom.
Remedies: move the plant to a more suitable place

Leaves that look faded

Faded leaves mean the plant has been exposed to too much direct sun.
Remedies: move the plant to a more suitable place

Brown spots on the underside of the leaves

It can be subject to infestations by the cochineal, both the brown cochineal and the mealy cochineal. Recognizing them is very simple: just look at them with a magnifying glass and compare them with the photos shown. They are unmistakable, you can't go wrong. If you try to scratch them with your fingernail, they come off easily.

Remedies: they can be eliminated using a cotton swab soaked in alcohol or you can wash the plant with water and neutral soap by gently rubbing with a sponge to remove the parasites. Once this is done, the plant must be rinsed to remove the soap. Only in case of severe infestations is it recommended to use systemic pesticides.

Leaves with a necrotic tip

If the leaves show this symptom it means that the plant has not been watered a little or in any case there is not a sufficiently humid environment around it.

Remedies: regulate watering and humidity.


The Greek name of the papyrus is most likely of Egyptian origin and Theophrastus was the first to use it.

This plant was used for various uses: for construction, for clothing but above all to obtain the material used for writing. Its manufacture, dating back to the most ancient times, so much so that a roll was found in the tomb of Usapais (pharaoh of the early dynasty), took place in the following way: the stems were cut into pieces of about 40 cm then sliced ​​thinly along the length and the various slices were arranged parallel to each other. multiple layers overlapping one perpendicular to the other. At that point they were beaten, pressed and smoothed and finally cut to the desired size.

Approximately from the 1st century AD. when the files began to be used, the papyrus sheets were stuck together to form scrolls wound from left to right.

Papyrus also became common among the Greeks around the fourth century. B.C. and from there it spread throughout the classical world. The main export city was the Phoenician city of Gubal whose Greek name byblos it means "papyrus".

Until the fourteenth century in Egypt, papyrus was normally used to be replaced by paper.


See: «Papyrus - The language of flowers and plants».

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