It's common name describes the leaves, which radiate like the spokes of an umbrella from the top of stiff stems. The roots of several Cyperus plants have been used as food. Cyperus Esculentus known as Nut Grass in North America, has been used in Southern Europe as food. The tuberous roots when roasted and ground, have been used as subtitutes for coffee and cocoa.
The root ball should be kept moist and the best method is to always stand the pot in a deep saucer of water. The plant will then draw up its water needs. If Cyperus dries out for a short time, the bracts are likely to develop brown tips, this can also happen if the air is too dry.
Apply standard liquid fertilizer at monthly intervals during active growth period. Pour the feed on the compost and not into the bowl of water.
Most of these plants are fast growers and need re-potting as soon as the clumps of stems begin to fill their present ones.
The best way to propagate is by dividing overcrowded clumps in Spring. Remove the plant from its pot and with a sharp knife cut through the root ball from the top down. Cyperus Alternifolius can also be propagated from flower heads. Cut off the tips of the leaves and put the cutting upside down in a jar of water.
Cyperus Alternifolius can be grown in either full sunshine or slight shade. If it is getting too little light, it produces few new stems.
Cut out at compost level any stems whose leaves turn yellow or brown and if the entire plant becomes straggly. It will soon send up new shoots.
After a few years, certain parts of the rootstock will die off and these can be pulled away and discarded. Do this at re-potting time.
It is ideal for growing Cyperus in a small group of other house-plants, where they all help to create a more humid atmosphere than if placed separately around a room. Spider mites can be a problem, especially if air is too dry. Leaves will scorch if the plant is in a draught or dry air.
An unusual way to display Cyperus Alternifolius, is in a watertight container holding water and pebbles.
Spray daily in Summer, 3 times a week in Winter.
House-plant potting compost.
The first potatoes were cultivated in Peru about 7,000 years ago.