Imagine: Cheryl was feeling especially stressed. She had projects due at work, the kids had upcoming dentist appointments and dance lessons, and she’d promised her husband that they could have at least one weekend day at home as a family. But she’d also told her best friend Meghan that she’d help plant containers for her deck.
What had possessed her? Cheryl knew that Meghan was especially anxious about how the deck would look later in the summer, since the company picnic was being held at her house.
So after dropping the kids off at the dance school, and asking one of the other parents to keep an eye on them until she got back, Cheryl drove down the street to the garden center.
She began to be even more stressed as she walked down the aisles, however, and saw hundreds of colorful plants. Which one to choose?
Cheryl saw that the woman next to her was confidently putting pots into her wagon, so she decided that this customer must know what she’s doing. “Can I ask your opinion?” Cheryl said. “I need some impressive plants for five deck containers. Could you suggest something?”
The customer smiled and beckoned Cheryl to follow. “If you want impressive, you can’t go wrong with King Tut,” she said. “This plant does everything but bake cookies for the fundraiser,” she joked. “And if you plant some Snow Princess alyssum around the edges of the pot, you’ll have a stunning display of greenery and white flowers.”
Cheryl was impressed. “Thanks so much,” she said. “I’m so relieved I ran into you!” And after loading her own cart with King Tut and Snow Princess, Cheryl turned to say goodbye to the woman who’d saved her. “How do you know so much about the plants?” Cheryl asked.
The woman smiled. “Oh, I own this place,” she replied and swept her hand to indicate the entire garden center. “I’m just picking up a few things on my day off.”
Name: Cyperus papyrus, aka King Tut Papyrus
Type of Plant: An annual in most regions – only perennial in Zones 10-11. That said, a dramatic plant for garden or containers.
Why I love this: I love King Tut because it’s tall yet doesn’t shade other plants underneath. I love how it catches the golden light of the rising or setting sun. I love how the plant gently moves in even the slightest breeze. I love the exotic look that somehow blends into any planting, be it on Cape Cod or in Hawaii. I love how King Tut adds drama and height to any area, and how it so perfectly fills a tall but thin space.
A Word to the Wise: Although this is known as a plant that likes moisture, I’ve found that it does just fine in average garden conditions where everything gets watered deeply once a week. I’ve also found that like many other annuals, King Tut does well when the container or ground is fertilized with a mix of 2 Tablespoons of Osmocote and 2 Tablespoons of Plant-tone fertilizer. Mix this into the potting soil or scatter it in a 20” diameter area on the ground, and then plant the papyrus in the center.