All about papyrus

This is a plant that has seen the birth and death of one of the first civilizations (some experts say it was the first) on Earth: that of Ancient Egypt. Growing on the banks of the longest river in the world, the Nile, it was used by the Egyptians to make the world’s first paper, and as a consequence, also the first book. But in addition, it was also used to make ships, which could travel short distances and were very useful for making short transports. Not long after they began to make wooden boats, but they always used this plant to write their history.

The papyrus, whose scientific name is Cyperus papyrus is a plant much sought after by those who are attracted to the history of Egypt, but also for those who want an aquatic plant different in their ponds.

Origin and characteristics of papyrus

Image – Flickr/ Bernard DUPONT

The papyrus is a semi – aquatic and rhizomatous herbaceous plant that grows to a height of 2-3 meters. Its leaves, seen from afar, look like ballerina pompoms that grow upwards and then fall slightly. The whole plant is a lovely grass green color. It blooms during the summer, producing very small flowers grouped in yellow-brownish inflorescences. Its growth is very fast if it has the right conditions, and somewhat slower if it lacks water or the climate is too cold for it.

In gardening it can be used as a pond plant, but it will look just as good in a pot or in the middle of the lawn, as long as it has direct light, as it does not grow well in semi-shade. It can also be kept indoors as long as it has good natural light.

What is the care of the papyrus plant?

If you dare to have a specimen of Cyperus papyrus, we recommend providing the following care. You will see that it really is a very grateful plant:


It is a plant that should preferably be outdoors, in an area exposed to the sun directly. In any case, it must also be said that it can live in semi-shade as long as it is in a bright place.

On the other hand, it will be a good indoor plant if a lot of natural light enters the room it is in.

Soil or substrate

  • Garden: the land must be rich in organic matter, with good drainage.
  • Pot: the substrate to use can be the universal substrate for plants that they sell for example here.


Image – Wikimedia/ Liné1

Irrigation must be frequent. We cannot forget that it is a plant that lives on the banks and on the banks of rivers, so its water needs are high. In fact, it may be necessary to water daily if the weather is very dry and hot, especially if it is being grown in pots since it takes less time for the soil to dry out in a container. It is even a good idea to choose to put a plate under the pot.


During the whole growing season (spring and summer) it is very interesting to fertilize the papyrus regularly every 7 to 10 days. To do this, preferably organic fertilizers will be used, following the indications specified on the product packaging to avoid an overdose. The most recommended are guano, for its rapid effectiveness, and chicken manure as long as it is as dry as possible or is bought ready to use ( they sell it here ).


It reproduces either by division of the plant, or by cutting a stem -with flowers- and placing it in a bucket with water upside down; that is, with the leaves submerged.

The method of reproduction by seeds sown in seedbeds is not recommended, as it is quite complicated, first to get those seeds and after they germinate. The viability period is very short.

Planting or transplanting time

Spring is a good time to plant it in the garden, or to change it to a larger pot if necessary. But how do you know if your plant needs more space? Its roots are not invasive, so when they occupy the entire container, the only thing that will happen is that it will stop growing.

But that is precisely the detail in which you will have to guide yourself, since once it has occupied the entire pot, it is when it will need more space. Anyway, and this I tell you from my own experience, nothing will happen if you have a papyrus in a pot of about 50 centimeters in diameter and it does not grow any more, do not worry because it will be fine. You can if you want to cut off some stems, but boy, don’t you have to.

Rusticity of papyrus

It can withstand very mild frosts down to -2ºC, but it will live better if grown in climates with temperatures above 10 degrees. During cold winters, the leaves and stems are likely to wilt, but in spring they will sprout again (except in severe frosts).

What did you think of the papyrus plant?

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