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Ornamental grasses and grasslike plants, Perennials, Aquatic

These African natives are sedges—grasslike plants distinguished from true grasses by three-angled, solid stems and very different flowering parts. Valued for striking form, silhouette, shadow pattern.

Most cyperus grow in rich, moist soil or with roots submerged in water. Keep plants groomed by removing dead or broken stems; divide and replantvigorous plants when the clump becomes too large, saving smaller, outside divisions and discarding the overgrown centers. Beyond their hardiness range, pot up divisions and keep them over the winter as houseplants.

Cyperus albostriatus

A clump of upright 1 1/2-ft.-tall stems is topped by a tuft of broad leaves and, in late summer, loose starbursts of tiny greenish-yellow flowers. Overall appearance is lush and soft. Vigorous, invasive plant; best used in contained space.

Cyperus papyrus (photo courtesy of Rob D. Brodman)
Cyperus papyrus (photo courtesy of Rob D. Brodman)

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Cyperus papyrus

Tall, graceful, dark green stems to 6–10 ft. tall are topped with clusters of green threadlike parts to 1 1/2 ft. long (longer than small leaves at base of cluster), each tipped with a tiny, brownish flower. Will grow quickly in 2 in. of water in a shallow pool, or can be potted and placed on bricks or an inverted pot in deeper water. Protect from strong wind. Also grows well in rich, moist soil out of water. Naturalized on Kauai. Especially nice for cut-flower arrangements.

Cyperus prolifer (photo courtesy of Proven Winners)
Cyperus prolifer (photo courtesy of Proven Winners)

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Cyperus prolifer

Flowers and long, thin leaves combine to make filmy brown and green clusters on slender stems about 1 1/2 ft. high. Used in Asian-style gardens; sink in pots in water gardens where delicate design of slender, leafless stems will not be lost among larger and coarser plants.

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