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Cyperus alternifolius (Dwarf Papyrus)

Dwarf Papyrus is native to Madagascar so how it thrives in the ground in my chilly Sussex garden is a bit of a mystery – but thrive, it does. It’s on a raised bank and dies down in winter with the frost but always returns in the spring as happy as ever. We always enjoy turning various orthodoxies on their head. This plant is usually thought of as growing in sub tropical water margins and therefore needs to be kept in a conservatory in a pot in the winter. That’s funny – outside in Sussex in a raised bed with no obvious water margin anywhere near, seems to work fine. It does need light and is fine in a pot but it needs a big pot to do best. Insufficient light and it droops – thin and bendy. Not very good. It always benefits from a bit of cosmetic work – removal of old, dead, dying and bent bits makes a world of difference.

Probably a reckless comment, but this never seems to get any pests or diseases.

These are related to the proper Papyrus that grows by the Nile that they used to make paper out of. Many years ago we used to sell it as a conservatory plant but it really won’t take frost and as we decided many years ago that heating greenhouses was officially loony so unfortunately we don’t do it anymore. A shame as it’s a fantastic conservatory plant – dramatic and easy. We were brought up with the bible story of ‘Moses in the bulrushes’; a wonderful bit of linguistic imperialism. Whether Moses ever even existed or not, he was meant to come from Egypt. Papyrus grows by the river Nile. Bulrushes grow round ponds in the English Home counties. Wherever the baby Moses was found, I bet it wasn’t by a pond in Stoke Poges. STOP PRESS : yes we do sell it – but only in the summer.

Propagated by us from cuttings.

Hardiness traffic light amber

Hardiness level Amber

Find out more

Hardy in the Home Counties if sensibly sited (avoiding severe frost pockets, for example). Many Amber Labelled Plants are from cuttings from well-established plants that have survived many harsh winters in the South-East.

This is only meant as a guide. Please remember we're always on hand to give advice about plants and their frost hardiness.

Please remember that these coloured labels are only a rough guide.

General Point about Plant Hardiness: The commonly held belief that it's better to 'plant small' is perfectly true with herbaceous plants, but not necessarily true with woody plants. They need some 'wood' on them to survive severe cold - so plants of marginal hardiness in very cold areas should really be planted LARGER, rather than smaller, wherever possible.