Small project, long overdue

This weekend I finally tackled a little project that I should have done two months ago. It's my 'King Tut' Papyrus, one of my favorite plants. It's been sitting in the garage since I moved it there in early November -- it's not cold-hardy so I need to protect it during the winter.


The project was to divide the plant and bring a smaller division into the basement under the lights. The reason I didn't jump on this immediately in November is that I was waiting for signs of distress from the plant, and I haven't yet seen any.

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I'm not saying the plant looks to be in perfect, peak-of-growing-season shape, but it looks pretty good. Here's what it looked like in June when I bought it:


And this is what it looks like right now:


Pretty amazing, since Papyrus is a plant that loves water, and this plant hasn't gotten a drop for over two months. True it hasn't been using much water either, but still amazing. There's a good amount of green left in there, and green is good.

To divide, I just used my spade and cut a good-sized chunk off:


(Yes, I'm doing it in the garage, and I'm only opening the garage door when it's time to take a photo. I don't want it to get too cold in here, but I love natural light in photos.)

I cut it to a size that would fit into a 5-gallon paint bucket, as I'm going to put a few gallons of water in it:


If the plant isn't dead or dying already, hopefully this will create the conditions that the plant likes and it will start actively growing again.

I decided to put the remaining (larger) chunk of the plant into a large hole-free planter so it too can have a few gallons of water added.


It's staying in the garage though, with it's minimal light and 40ºF temperature. I really only need one of these divisions to survive the winter, but if they both do then I know that I won't have to do as much to overwinter it next year.

I've tried overwintering this plant a couple of years ago. That time I took a few small divisions and tried to keep them actively growing under the lights. That did not work out. Hopefully my approach this year will, as I really like this plant and would be thrilled if I could have three or more of them in my garden next year, especially if I don't have to buy new ones.


If I had more time for this project I probably would have taken one more division and left it in the garage but not in water -- it would stay drier, as the plant has been for the past couple of months. Then I'd have three different overwintering strategies, and an even better chance of success.

So now I just wait for spring and hope for the best. Fingers crossed!

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Gerhard Bock  – (January 20, 2011 at 9:25 AM)  

This is a lovely plant. I've considered getting one but it needs so much water that it seems obscene to plant it in our dry climate. If only I had a small pond; there it would be perfect.

Alan  – (January 20, 2011 at 11:04 AM)  

I don't know that it needs any more water than Elephant Ears or a potted bamboo.

Alan  – (January 20, 2011 at 11:15 AM)  

I always potted it up normally in a pot with drainage holes, although I left a saucer under it.

Gerhard Bock  – (January 20, 2011 at 11:30 AM)  

That's good to know. I always thought it needs standing water.
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