The genus Scirpus (bulrush) includes over 300 species of stemless plant that thrive on marshy land and in shallow water. The only species generally grown indoors, S. cernuus, is a graceful, grasslike plant that produces dense tufts of threadlike, fresh green leaves arising directly from a creeping underground rootstock. The cylindrical leaves, which resemble stems, grow about 10 inches long, and each carries at its tip a white to cream-colored flower no bigger than a pin-head. Flowers can appear at any time. Although not particularly interesting in themselves, they provide an attractive contrast to the slim, green line of the leaves. New leaves stand erect at first, but they begin to arch downward as they age. For this reason scirpuses usually show to best advantage when they have been planted in hanging baskets.
Light Give scirpuses medium light. Unlike most house plants, they thrive in a position at a north-facing window or even at a window that is obscured by a nearby obstruction.
Temperature Normal room temperatures are suitable. These plants, however, grow actively all year long in temperatures above 55°F. They can tolerate lower winter temperatures but should be given a rest if indoor temperatures are likely to remain unusually low for more than two or three days.
Watering During the active growth period (which may be continuous) water plentifully as often as necessary so as to keep the potting mixture thoroughly and constantly moist. Pots may even be permitted to stand in water. Hanging baskets filled with scirpuses will dry out very quickly; they may need a daily soaking in a bucket of water during this period. If temperatures fall below 55T at any time, encourage these plants to take a rest period by watering very sparingly, giving only enough to keep the potting mixture from drying out completely.
Feeding Apply standard liquid fertilizer to actively growing plants once every four weeks.
Potting and repotting Use a soil-based potting mixture. Move scirpuses into slightly larger pots or hanging baskets whenever the tufted growths completely cover the surface of the mixture. Pots bigger than 5 inches should not be necessary, since young plants are more attractive than old ones. Split up any clump that has reached the 5-inch size, and use the pieces for propagation.
Propagation Propagate scirpuses by dividing overcrowded clumps, preferably in the spring. Pull the clumps apart gently, making sure that each section retains at least 20 leaves. Plant the sections either singly in 3-inch pots or group three or four together in a single hanging basket, and treat them immediately in exactly the same way as mature plants.
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