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Cyperus involucratus

Q: What can you tell me about the papyrus plant?

Q:  I am planning for plants around my pool and want a tropical look. What can you tell me about the papyrus plant? I have purchased three 3 gallon pots and want to know how quickly they spread. I live in the Callahan area.

A: Since you live in Callahan, you fall under zone 8 which does put a limit on the type of tropical plants you can use. I am not sure which type of papyrus you have, but there is an umbrella papyrus, Cyperus involucratus, which prefers boggy sites but can survive in drier areas. Another common papyrus is Cyperus papyrus, which would survive better if placed in a watery environment. However, both papyruses are found in common man-made ponds and water gardens which have recently become so popular.

The umbrella sedge reaches heights of 2-6 feet and is classified as a tender perennial, which means it will die back in cold temperatures but should return once spring occurs. Both are very attractive, grow quickly, propagate easily and are easy to find in nurseries.

We also discussed bamboo, which I strongly suggested you confine your choices to the clumping variety to avoid angry neighbors and law suits. I of course say this in jest, but truly running bamboo often does not stay confined to one area and will end up in your neighbor’s yards. Therefore, choose wisely! When you go to the nursery ask for tropical plants that will survive in your zone. You might consider a native hibiscus too. The bloom is beautiful and certainly lends a tropical flare.