Planting Papyrus

Published June 5, 2015 by KEPRI

Ok, so this post isn’t really about photography but it contains photos taken by my Canon SX20, so it counts.  To start, here is a little about the camera:

The Canon SX20 falls under the category of “super zoom” point-and-shoot style cameras.  This was my camera before I purchased my first SLR, the purple Pentax K-x.  The SX20 is a nice little bundle for the price and certainly for what it is.  As a non-SLR, it takes quality images and nice macro shots, has twenty-times optical zoom, and a flip out LCD screen.  That has its advantages for you selfie pros but can also come in handy when at difficult angles.  It has some nice built-in artistic features that include filters.  My favorite of these is color selection, which allows you to select a single color and turn everything else to black and white.  Below are a few examples of what it can do.  The most recent incarnation of the SX20 is the SX60.

So now that I have talked about a camera, here is the real post!  Today I would like to welcome you all into the world of horticulture.  It is a hobby of mine and maybe someday it will grow (pardon the term) into a business.

Among my favorite plants is papyrus (Cyperus papyrus).  It makes a beautiful addition to any aquatic garden or deck!  Native to regions like the Nile and Euphrates, it is considered a Zone 11 plant and should be treated accordingly.  That means it can handle temperatures as low as 40 degrees but no lower.  If you live in Florida or another warm, southern region it can be planted outside with no problem.  Otherwise, pot it and bring it indoors and give it a plant light.  It thrives in full sun, though it can tolerate partial sun.  It will die in the shade.  Being an aquatic plant it likes being moist or wet at all times, if not submerged.  I have mine potted and kept inside a plastic basin full of water.

Now, here is where the photography comes in.  I used my little SX20 to photograph closeups of one of the stems after I had cut it.  The inside shows the white pith, which is quite fibrous.  This is what the Ancient Egyptians used to make paper, sandals, clothing, baskets, and other goods.

Why did I cut down some of my papyrus?  To make more papyrus, of course!  It is one of the few plants that does not reproduce well by seeding.  Instead it spreads when its stalks fall over into the water or muddy earth.  It roots easily and can spread like wildfire this way, forming thick growth that is near impenetrable.  It also spreads through its root system.

Perhaps the easiest way to create separate plants is by taking clippings.  Simply clip the umbel (top, umbrella-shaped fan), trim the leaves down to an inch or two, and place upside down in water.  Here I am using the bottom of a Sprite bottle.  Your papyrus can be planted in rich, wet soil when small roots start to form.  Fertilizer can be helpful but not needed.

Rooting hormone is not necessary but willow water can be used if you feel it will help.  Willow trees contain a natural rooting hormone that can be used to root other plants.  Simply take a cup or two of willow tips, stick them in a gallon or half gallon of hot water, and let sit for 24-48 hours.  It lasts up to two months in the fridge but is best used fresh.

So there you have it: planting papyrus 101.  Keep in mind that if you choose to grow this beautiful plant you will need a substantial mount of room, as it gets quite large.  Papyrus can get between 8 and 10 feet tall!  Thus, it needs a large pot or enough room to expand outdoors.  There are different varieties so a smaller one such as Baby Tut might be more manageable.

You can purchase papyrus many places online and at some nurseries.  Mine came from Logee’s.  Simply put, that place is awesome!

I plan to go back there this summer with fellow photographer, Haydon Hall and take some shots of their stuff.  I will probably also return with like five more plants.

I hope you enjoyed my diversion.  Happy planting!

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