Do you recognize the word “papyrus”? History lessons teach how the stems of Cyperus papyrus were used to make a paper-like material for writing scrolls in ancient Egypt thousands of years ago. Fast forward to today where this unique aquatic plant has been adapted as a modern ornamental for container combinations and landscapes. What a versatile plant!
Though it retains a strong preference for moist soil and continues to thrive in water gardens, Egyptian papyrus is now adapted to grow well in large containers where it makes a whimsical thriller. Huge umbrella-shaped tassels dance to the slightest breeze, imbuing vitality into your garden design. Clipped for fresh bouquets, the plumes last up to two weeks.
Prince Tut papyrus is a mid-sized selection with sturdy stems rising up to 30” tall from large, woody rhizomes. Give it plenty of root space and keep the moisture coming to see fresh plumes rise up all season. Prefer something taller? Try the six foot tall King Tut® papyrus. Shorter? Baby Tut® tops out at two feet.
A trio of Tuts! From left to right: Baby Tut®, Prince Tut™, and King Tut® underplanted with Baby Tut papyrus.
Get to Know Prince Tut Papyrus
A modern version of an ancient classic papyrus
Huge plumes on sturdy, short 18-30” stalks
Blooms from planting time until frost
Fun accent plant for containers and landscapes
Grows in shallow water and at the pond’s edge
Long-lasting in fresh bouquets
Grows and blooms well in 4+ hours of sun
How to Grow Prince Tut Papyrus in Containers
Prince Tut thrives with consistent moisture and has an extensive root system. When growing it in containers, choose one that is a minimum of 12” in diameter—the larger the better. Self-watering AquaPots® or containers made of glazed clay or other non-porous material are ideal since they will help the soil retain moisture.
If you are growing Prince Tut on its own in a container, you can use one that does not have any drainage holes. This will essentially turn your container into a mini bog garden, and the papyrus will love all that extra moisture. But if you are pairing Prince Tut with other plants in a container, it must have drainage holes since the other plants will require it.
Prince Tut papyrus shines as the thriller in this container recipe named Blind Love.
Start by positioning your Prince Tut papyrus as the thriller in your container. If it will be seen from all sides, plant it in the middle. If it will be set up against a wall, plant it in the back. Depending on the size of your container, you may need just two more plants to fill out the edges or several more. Space them a few inches apart around Prince Tut to give their roots room to grow.
Use a good quality potting soil in your container. If you are pairing Prince Tut with other moisture-loving varieties, consider using a moisture control potting soil. Mix a bit of continuous release plant food into the potting soil before you add the plants. This will ensure a small amount of nutrients is available to the plants throughout the growing season. Water your newly planted container immediately to help the soil settle in around the plants’ roots.
Sunlight and Water Needs
The size and robustness of your Prince Tut papyrus will depend in part on how much sunlight it receives. It grows the biggest when it has six or more hours of sun per day and consistent moisture. However, the plants will also grow and bloom well in part sun. They will just be a bit smaller.
Papyrus is traditionally considered to be an aquatic plant, meaning it grows well in shallow water and at the water’s edge. Today’s modern varieties like Prince Tut are well-adapted to use as a modern ornamental for container combinations and landscapes. It retains a strong preference for moist soil which is easier to provide when you grow the plant in a self-watering container or in a container with a large soil volume.
Water Prince Tut regularly and don’t let the soil dry out to the point your plants start to wilt, as this will cause its plumes to turn brown. If this happens, trim away the damaged bits to make room for new plumes to form.
5 Tips for Growing Prince Tut Papyrus in a Water Garden
Use an 8 to 12” diameter nursery pot with holes in the bottom to let the water in. If your water garden is in a windy location, pack the bottom of the container with rocks to add weight to keep it from blowing over.
Soak the plant to eliminate all the air pockets and let the soil settle. Add more soil if needed.
Set the container on a ledge or shelf in your water garden and pack a few rocks around it to keep it upright. At least the bottom few inches of the container should be submerged. Keep the crown of the plant above water.
Prince Tut is an evergreen grass that produces new flower plumes all season long. Once they are spent, the individual plumes turn light brown and should be trimmed away to make room for new ones to form. It’s important to remove the spent foliage to prevent too much organic matter from building up in the pond.
The Dancing in the Dark container recipe combines three types of plants that enjoy consistent moisture and full sun to part shade conditions.
What to Pair with Prince Tut Papyrus
Since papyrus likes moist soil and full sun to part shade conditions, look for other plants that enjoy similar conditions. Here are a dozen suggestions for companions in container recipes. You will discover even more as you experiment with this versatile plant in your own garden.
Angelface® Angelonia – summer snapdragon
Endless™ Browallia – bush violet
Toucan® Canna – canna lily
ColorBlaze® Plectranthus – coleus
Scirpus (AKA Isolepis) – fiber optic grass
Hippo® Hypoestes – polka dot plant
Rockapulco® Impatiens – double impatiens
White Knight® Lobularia – sweet alyssum
Infinity® Impatiens – New Guinea impatiens
Supertunia® Petunia – petunias
Sweet Caroline Ipomoea – sweet potato vine
Catalina® or Summer Wave® Torenia – wishbone flower
Learn more about Prince Tut papyrus and all of our National Plants of the Year using these resources: