Winter Papyrus Care – Tips For Overwintering Papyrus Plants

Winter Papyrus Care – Tips For Overwintering Papyrus Plants

By: Nikki Tilley, Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden

Papyrus is a vigorous plant suitable for growing in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11, but overwintering papyrus plants is critical during the winter months in more northern climates. Although papyrus doesn’t demand much effort, the plant will die if subjected to frosty weather. Read on to learn more about winter papyrus care.

Winterizing Cyperus Papyrus

Also known as bulrush, papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) is a dramatic aquatic plant that grows in dense clumps along ponds, swamps, shallow lakes, or slow-moving streams. In its native habitat, papyrus can reach heights of 16 feet (5 m.), but ornamental plants tend to top out at about one-third that height.

Cyperus papyrus growing in warmer climates requires little winter care, although plants in zone 9 may die back to the ground and rebound in spring. Be sure the rhizomes are located where they are protected from freezing temperatures. Remove dead growth as it appears throughout the winter.

How to Care for Papyrus in Winter Indoors

Indoor papyrus care during winter is ideal for those living in cooler climates. Be sure to bring your papyrus plant indoors where it will be warm and snug before temperatures in your area fall below 40 F. (4 C.). Overwintering papyrus plants is easy if you can provide sufficient warmth, light, and moisture. Here’s how:

Move the plant into a container with a drainage hole in the bottom. Place the container inside a larger, water-filled pot with no drainage hole. A child’s wading pool or a galvanized metal container works well if you have several papyrus plants. Be sure to keep at least a couple of inches (5 cm.) of water in the container at all times.

You can also plant papyrus in a regular container filled with potting soil, but you’ll need to water frequently to prevent the soil from drying out.

Place the plant in bright sunlight. A south-facing window may provide sufficient light, but you may need to place the plant under a grow light.

Papyrus is most likely to survive the winter if room temperatures are maintained between 60 and 65 F. (16-18 C.). The plant may go dormant during the winter, but it will resume normal growth when the weather warms in spring.

Withhold fertilizer during the winter months. Return to a regular feeding schedule after you move the plant outdoors in spring.

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Paper reed, also called papyrus, has a rich history in Ancient Egyptian culture. Photo by Drew Avery / CC BY-SA 2.0

Are you looking for a tropical plant for your pond environment? Paper reed, also commonly known as papyrus, papyrus sedge, Indian matting plant or Nile grass, may be the plant for you! Cyperus papyrus, belonging to the family Cyperaceae, is native to Africa and grows naturally in the countries of Africa, Madagascar, and the Mediterranean. Due to the warm and tropical nature of these countries, this plant thrives in warmer areas that offer plenty of moist soil, allowing paper reed to become invasive in U.S locations such as Florida and Louisiana.

The papyrus plant has a rich history behind it and was known quite well in Ancient Egypt. There, the plant was used for bowls, utensils, baskets, and medicine. Many may be familiar with papyrus in the sense that it was the first source used for writing paper and it is thought to be what baby Moses was placed in in the biblical story of Moses. However, as human development increased and papyrus was transported elsewhere, it has more or less disappeared from the area of Egypt.

This plant is easy to care for, and Cyperus papyrus does best when planted in extremely moist soils or in standing water, making it the perfect plant to have as a background for more showy flowers in aquatic gardens or decorative ponds.

Facts, Benefits & Uses of Papyrus

Many species of bird depend on the habitat that papyrus provides, such as this papyrus gonolek.
Photo by Nik Borrow / CC BY-NC 2.0

Paper reed is an environmentally friendly plant to grow in your aquatic space! Starting with the direct benefits for the environment, papyrus offers the perfect resting site for birds, as they settle in the fluffy, feather duster-like heads on the tip of the plant. The birds that occupy this space are typically social in nature and make a wonderful addition to your outdoor habitat.

Papyrus is also quite an effective filter for pollution in waterways. When planted where toxic wastewater runs into the water, papyrus has been known to absorb the dangerous waste before it harms the location’s other plant and animal inhabitants.

Planting papyrus, cyperus

Papyrus is a plant native to marsh areas, which explains its constant need for water.

Preferably in spring. You can choose a special aquatic plant soil mix.

  • The plant must continuously bathe in water.
  • It is thus perfectly suited to ponds and embankments.
  • For pots, place the pot in a saucer that is always filled with water.

Propagation is possible through crown division in spring.

How to Plant Dwarf Papyrus In Ponds

Dwarf papyrus does best when planted in a couple inches of water, or in rich, saturated soils. Photo by CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The dwarf papyrus is a wonderfully versatile plant that can be grown in water or moist soil, inside of your home or out in your pond or garden! For optimal growth, they should be planted in loam or clay soil with a couple of inches of standing water. They are very low-maintenance and fairly easy to care for!

When you’re starting out, you can grow your dwarf papyrus plant from seed or by division. Planting C. haspan from seed can be a little more difficult, and germination is a slow process. It may take over a month for your plant to sprout up from seed. An easier method of planting dwarf papyrus involves division propagation using an already mature individual.

Dwarf papyrus needs to be planted by its rhizomes, in a pot containing very moist soil. After you plant your dwarf papyrus and it begins to grow roots and shoots, you can transport it into your backyard pond, or wherever else you would like it to grow! If you decide to care for this plant on your patio or inside of your house, it is important to remain mindful of its significant water needs.

If you are interested in using the division method, you can start a new plant using the tip of a mature stem. All you need to do is cut off the top 3-4” of the stem, and place it upside down in a container of very moist soil or standing water. In a few weeks, you will notice a new dwarf papyrus plant growing its own roots and shoots! To help ensure rooting takes place, you can dip the cut end into some rooting hormone powder and then plant it.

A dwarf papyrus plant growing in a pond or marshy environment will propagate very quickly and easily. If one of its florets simply touches the water, it will root and begin growing a new plant. In order to keep your dwarf papyrus under control, you can plant it in a pot prior to placing it into a natural setting like a pond. This is especially advisable if you live in an area where dwarf papyrus is considered invasive.


Feed-in the spring monthly until autumn with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted in half. Fertilize only during watering to avoid fertilizer burns.

How to grow Papyrus Plant

Potting and re-potting

Divide a ball of papyrus plants grown in containers. Re-pot or throw sections. If the root ball is divided, the plant becomes more vigorous.

Winter Care

Frost or freezing will kill the tops of the papyrus plant, but they can come back if the roots are moderately deep, moistened, or submerged. If you are winter in low light, keep the night temperatures cold in the 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the plant evenly humid or place the plant container in a deep salad filled with 1 or 2 inches of water.

Papyrus Plant in Pot

Uses of Papyrus Plant

  • The fibrous part of the stems has been utilized for making paper.
  • The plant is also traditionally used to make formal bouquets funeral garlands, boats, cordage, fans, sandals, matting, corkage, boxes.
  • Papyrus stems are useful for waterproofing layers in a wooden ship.
  • Papyrus carpets are used for making fences and huts.
  • Rhizomes of papyrus are cut into sections and used as beads for a necklace.

Medicinal Uses

Papyrus had several medicinal uses in the past, though it is little. Burnt papyrus sheets and the ash was used to have the action of pulverized charcoal. And was used in the treatment of certain eye diseases, whereas the ash is also used in ulcers from spreading in the mouth or elsewhere.

Watch the video: Dwarf papyrus Caretips