The papyrus is well-known as the plant from which paper was produced, dating back to Cleopatra’s time in Egypt. Not only was it a source of paper, but parts of it can be eaten and the light reed-like stems can be made into boats. In modern times it is most often grown as an ornamental grass; the thick stalks are topped with light, airy flowering heads described as feather-dusters. It is a monocot belonging to the sedge family Cyperaceae.
|Blooms||Small Cream Colored, Inconspicuous|
|Light Needs||Full to Partial Sun|
|Water Needs||Essential, Does Well in Standing Water|
As a tropical plant it is sensitive to frost, but some growers report that it is able to survive easily through short periods of chilly weather. Full sun helps keep the stems stiff and rigid. It is a perfect Tampa Bay plant because in addition to the sun, it is very much at home in the water. Bird lovers can cultivate it as a nesting site for birds and for the nut-like fruits which the birds eat. A point to remember when planting this grass is the fact that it does grow quickly and can become a thick stand of stems in no time. One thought is to plant it in pots which will contain its spread. These can be anchored underneath water and other plants will not be disturbed. It does like rich soil. A pot is a way to keep it indoors; just be sure to keep it watered. If it is inside during the winter months in low light, keep night temperatures in the 40s and 50s. Springtime is the best time to divide the clumps and without damaging growth.
Papyrus is often planted to create a border where a fence is not needed. Use this lush, tropical plant along lakes, ponds, or slow moving streams. You might want a single clump to serve as a focal point, or maybe a pair to frame an entrance to your walkway or garden. It is especially decorative in a bog garden. Put it together with the Egyptian lotus in a water garden and you have developed a serene, meditative spot. Versatile, easy-to-grow and at home in Florida’s USA plant zone of 10, Tampa and the papyrus are a perfect fit!