Cyperus 'King Tut'

King-Tut00It’s possible that you know Cyperus Grass as Egyptian Grass, or maybe as Papyrus, the rush that became the world’s first paper. As we work with our material we often find that we are delving into the past, and this grass has a lot of history behind it. Parts of it are edible, and the highly buoyant stems were used to make boats, sandals and the occasional drapery.

Although we think of reeds as water-loving plants, the reality is that they also do very well in containers and standard American gardens. Bear in mind, the Nile is not a constant river—it floods and it ebbs. Therefore, reeds need to tolerate the dry as well as the wet. Let’s take a look at one of our Cyperus shipping this week, ‘King Tut’.


‘King Tut’ is a large drama plant in our design vocabulary. This means it grows about chest high, if your chest is about five feet high. The blooms are big umbrella-like tassels made from hundreds of soft, green threads that measure about a foot long. It’s a walk-by plant because people like to touch and feel its unusual blooms, so use it in places where they can get up-close and personal with it.

Alone, as a specimen in a nice decor pot, we drop the plant in and our job is done—so easy. Two of them would look impressive flanking a doorway or a sunny porch. ‘King Tut’ would also make a nice slender addition to an apartment balcony or small yard. Consider setting a few up near a light pole out in the front. Whether in a container or garden bed, the plant is a natural focal point that is easy to build around.


If you don’t want to show the soil line, surround ‘King Tut’ with white and airy plants like Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ or one of the Cora Cascade Vincas. Go low and plant a variety that favors the sun.

Culturally, we have a couple of elements in our favor:

First, ‘King Tut’ grows very fast. Even if you plant now, it will come to size quickly and mature to its preferred height. It thrives in full sun to sunny partial shade (more sun than not).

Second, it likes boggy water. If you have a container with no holes and no drainage, plant the Cyperus there. It will thrive in the boggy mess after a rain and will tolerate the soil when it dries out. For that matter, you can use Cyperus to perk up those wet trouble spots you run across, such as the catchment that floods or the drain spout that pools.


In fact, if you have a water edge in your landscape you can easily add flair by just dropping the plant—pot and all—into the water (but not over the crown—be careful not to submerge it). That’s right—don’t even bother pulling it out of the gallon pot we supply. Drop it in, as is, and you’re done. Shallow water plantings are that easy with Cyperus.

If you need something smaller than ‘King Tut’, we also ship Cyperus isocladus. Now remember, the native rushes are fifteen feet tall along the Nile. ‘King Tut’ is considered a dwarf at five feet. Isocladus is a miniature that grows only one foot tall. It is a tiny thing that you can use to lend some Egyptian flair to the front border garden or the little pocket garden at the side of the yard.


Want something in between? Then use ‘Baby Tut’, which is similar to ‘King Tut’ but grows about two feet tall.