Monday, July 8, 2013

Materials and Techniques: Propagating Cyperus alternifolius

I mentioned a while ago that I'd been seeing Cyperus for sale here and there, and had been tempted to get one. A number of commenters encouraged me to do so, and then a reader offered me cuttings of hers. I hadn't even known that growing them from cuttings was possible.

Also, fortunately, it turned out that the reader who offered the cuttings had already written a blog post about how to proceed, so I didn't even have to search the net to get instructions.

I goofed here: I should have taken a picture of the cuttings outside of the water, cut the stems, then taken a second picture of the cuttings in the water. Forgive me; I was excited. The cuttings are upside down, relative to the direction they were originally growing.

The above picture was taken on 3 June. The jar then sat to the side of the kitchen window, where the cuttings got mostly bright indirect light with a little weak late afternoon sun.

By 19 June, two of the three cuttings had produced new sprouts and roots from between the leaves. I then pulled them out of the water, cut off most of the leaves (I left about 3/8 inch / 1 cm on; it was impossible to cut very precisely without catching the new shoots and roots as well, and I figured it probably wouldn't matter if part of the leaves was still attached.), and planted them in potting mix. Molly planted hers right side up, the direction they were growing to begin with, and I left mine upside down: it turns out not to make a difference.

Growth has felt slower than I'd expected, especially considering how quickly the cuttings started to produce roots and growing tips. The whole process has actually moved pretty quickly, considering that I went from cuttings to plants in a month: I'm just impatient.

This is what they looked like yesterday. Surprisingly easy so far; I've kept them in a saucer of water by the kitchen sink, so I remember to check to see if they need water. I expect that will become more challenging once their root systems expand a bit, but everything's worked fine with these two for the first month.

The third cutting has still not produced new shoots or roots or anything; the only notable difference between it and the other two is that it had been flowering when cut off. That may or may not be the reason why it hasn't done anything. In some ways, I don't really care whether or not it roots, since I already have two plants and I didn't, technically, have room for them, but I've kept it anyway just to satisfy my curiosity about whether it ever will. (Thank you again, Molly.)


Paul said...

An extremely easy plant to grow as you are discovering. I suspect the slow growth currently is, in part, due to energy being focused on creating a decent root system.

You might also put one or both pots outside. They should appreciate the heat. They can take full sun, btw -- just harden them off as you would any plant going outdoors.

Watering-wise, you can leave the pots in standing water or even with the pots completely submerged. (Would advise the use of chunks of mosquito dunks -- Bt -- if doing this outside.)

Unknown said...

I've had fine luck putting a fresh cutting with a short stem directly into a pot of soil - set the base of the leaf cluster just below soil level.

Put a deep saucer below and keep some water in that saucer. Bingo. Easy plant to propagate!

Stephanie said...

We always did cuttings in water and vermiculite. In any case keep an eye out for spider mites.

Lee said...

Hmmm..... I am not entirely sure, but I am suspecting that the plantlets might have originated from undifferentiated tissues that were meant to be inflorescences, as in the case of orchid keiki.... If that is the case, then maybe the reason why the third cutting failed to produce any shoots is that the differentiation has already happened?

mr_subjunctive said...


Sounds plausible to me.

Anonymous said...


That is all.