Cyperus Problem - Hard Water?

nehpets81June 4, 2013

Hello everyone, this is my first post after spending the last few months lurking!
I was hoping to get some insight into whether I can keep my Cyperus (Umbrella plant) alive.

I grew it from seed and it is now about a year old but it is looking a bit sick. The leaves initially grow green but then gradually fade to brown. It seems that the rate of decline is such that there is usually just one green leaf on it at any one time as the leaves die off in the time it takes to grow a new one.

The plant is sat on a Wet facing window sill but does not get any direct sunlight due to a building blocking it out. I keep it in a tray of water to keep the compost wet.

A few ideas - I have not fed the plant for a long time - does it need fertilizing? The other thing that has recently occurred to me is that I live in a very hard water area and water with tap water - could this be the issue? I noticed a solid white build up on the bottom of the pot which I presume is related. I have also noticed that the surface of the soil has a number of springtail like creatures - I assumed these to be harmless....

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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Keeping it in a tray of water is likely suffocating it.

Plants' roots need air as well as water. Likely yours is suffocating & maybe rotting partially.

I don't know this plant at all, but do know keeping it as you mentioned will likely kill it. Pls. read up on pebble trays & after letting this dry out a bit, try that.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 7:23AM
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That seems rather strange behaviour. I have a lot of Cyperus which grows quite densely. The stems fall over sometimes and when the top is touching the ground it sprouts roots and a new plant. They propagate and spread very fast. There are 100's of Cyperus species and a number of them are called "Umbrella Plants". So maybe yours is a different species to mine. Mine have never been fertilised (but they grow in the ground). I wouldn't expect hard water to be a problem. The 'springtail' creatures I'm not familiar with. But you could sit the plant in water (fully immersed) and force those creatures off. The water won't affect the plant. In fact it will probably love it. I've found the easiest way to propagate them is to cut the top off and float it in water. Within a short time there'll be a new plant emerging from the floating top. I used to supply bags full of tops that I'd just thrown into a pond to a lady that grew them on and sold them potted up.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 7:59AM
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Karen brings up a point that has oft left me confused. Cyperus(I'm assuming what we have here is an "Alternifollius",as it's among the easier ones to find)is a marginal plant meaning it lives on the edge of and a little bit into the water,and in the wild you will find them sticking up out of anaerobic mud which means the oxygen content down there would be zilch.

*edited to switch out a pic*

Here is a link that might be useful:

This post was edited by asleep_in_the_garden on Fri, Jun 14, 13 at 0:47

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 8:39AM
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Thanks for the replies. I wouldn't have thought standing the plant in water would cause it any problems - I have seen these grown partially submerged before...

I live in the UK so the plant is in a pot in the kitchen, not outside in the ground so perhaps I should give it a feed? I am a bit wary of doing that with it in a pretty bad way. The plant should be C. Alternifolius (at least that is what the seeds were sold to me as) but mine certainly doesn't look as lush and green as the picture! It is still very small, only about 6 inches or so. Could the drafty windowsill be a bit cold for it?

The creatures are tiny and they jump when disturbed. I will try and submerge the plant when I get back to get rid of them. I'll also try and attach a photo of the plant, which might help

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 9:09AM
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Here is a picture if that is any help.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2013 at 4:43PM
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If it's Cyperus alternifolius, that is a native of Madagascar which has a tropical climate. So your plant probably would need more warmth. It does look 'very sad'.

Because so many Cyperaceae look similar they are probably misidentified with people giving conflicting information. I don't know what mine are although they do look the same as photos of C. alternifolius. It's night now but in the morning I'll get a photo and post it.

My main clump is growing on the edge of the turtle pond. It keeps moving into the pond but I keep cutting it back.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 11:18AM
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This is one of my clumps, tall enough to tickle my nose, or even poke me in the eye.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 4:41AM
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...And Nehpets,..I can tell you that from similar beginnings I ended up with clumps like Tropics'...before you know it you could be up to your neck in them. :)

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 12:53AM
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