King Tut likes the heat

Garden Making

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King Tut papyrus

One of the new plant introductions in 2010, King Tut papyrus, really loves the heat.  It seems to put on more height the hotter it gets.  The stalks, which are three-sided, can grow to 6 ft. x 36 in. (1.8 m x 90 cm) .

King Tut is a papyrus that does well in a bed or border with normal moisture — a pond location isn’t necessary.

“It looked elegant in our trial garden,” said Roger Tschanz, University of Guelph trial garden manager back in early spring. And he’s right. It does add a dramatic look.

If growing in a container, Tschanz recommends watering every day. Baby Tut, a variety of umbrella grass (Cyperus involucratus), is shorter (24 in./60 cm), more mounded and has broader leaves at the top. Both are tender perennials. Sun for both.

King Tut was a Proven Winners introduction in 2010.

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13 thoughts on “King Tut likes the heat”

  1. Hi all… I have a Baby Tut that I over-wintered last year and it’s almost time for it to go outside for the spring/summer.

    I live on Cape Cod and we have harsh and cold winters (lots of snow and temps below 0 degrees aren’t unusual). My Tut was in the ground for the growing season but I transplanted it into a drain free container for the winter.

    The pot was in a west window and I keep my house fairly cold (the thermostat is set at 50 degrees overnight and no higher than 62 degrees in the daytime).

    I bent one of the longest stems by accident and taped it with a bamboo skewer…like a splint. Oops!

    As you can see, I don’t pamper my plants. So experiment with a Baby Tut! If I can overwinter one I’ll bet you can too.

  2. Just bought 2 beautiful specimens (11cm holder on clearance @$.97CAD.) They were dry and somewhat stressed so I submerged both in a pail of water. Two days later they were flourishing so I put them in matching containers I had on had on hand and they’re on my really hot roof deck in part shade and highly visible. What performers!! These 2 dollar rookies are stealing the show. Wish I send pictures. I’m in Zone 7 – betcha I can overwinter them inside. Care to wager?

  3. Hello,
    Can anyone tell me where I might be able to purchase a “King Tut” grass plant in the Toronto area?

    • Hi Mary Elizabeth, Try Fiesta Farms on Christie (south of Dupont) or Bill’s Garden Centre on Pape (south of Bloor). Both have good selections of annuals, but it might be worth calling first before making the trip. Good luck!

  4. Fell in love with King Tut on photo! I live in Southern France and am planning my garden for next year. Is this plant ideal to plant in my corner of the world? I’m planning a wall garden of wild herbs such as thyme, oregano, rosemary, savory, sarriet, etc. These plants grow wild in this region. Huge thanks for your assistance.

  5. My King Tuts all seem to be turning brown and the leaves are dying. Even the new growth is brown. I am growing them in containers in BC. Last year they grew very well in the same containers. I thought I might be under watering, so i started to water more. Then I thought I might be overwatering so i slowed it down. The problem continues. Any suggestions?

  6. For winter, I cut the top of a stem and placed it upside down in water until it grew roots, then planted it in a pot. It is ready to be planted outside in Spring.

  7. Kerry

    Great information on the King Tut. Mine is planted alongside my larger pond waterfall. It is doing great! Gets plenty of water from the waterfall's spray. I will most definitely plant both the King Tut and Baby Tut again next year.


  8. Gary,

    My King Tut is about 5 feet tall now (I have it in a galvanized metal bushel basket with no drainage holes) and was planted from a 4.5" pot in May and it almost never has a stem kink over. This is despite several bouts of quite strong winds. Usually if you have stems kinking over it is because the plant is getting dry.

    If you have King Tut in a pot by itself try blocking the drainage holes to help keep it well hydrated. If it is in a pot with other plants or planted in the ground make sure the ground never gets completely dry.

    The other suggestion I have to keep it really healthy and strong is to make sure you fertilize. If the plant is at all light green or yellowish start using a well balanced water soluble fertilizer once a week or so to give it a boost. I use our Proven Winners water soluble fertilizer but any fertilizer with a 2:1:2 or 2:1:1.5 ratio would be good. Look for something like a 20:10:20, 20:10:15 or 24:12:17, or another formulation along those lines. In July I started supplementing the controlled-release fertilizer I used at planting with water soluble fertilizer. I can tell that the newer stems are super strong. A few of the older stems that grew before I started adding additional fertilizer droop a bit, but the rest are ramrod straight and the stems are quite thick.

    Thee is the potential that if the plant gets really old, it can sometimes shed old stems from the outside of the plant, to "make room" for newer, younger stems. I don't think this will happen in a season, but if you live in a warm enough climate for it to overwinter this could be your issue. The King Tut I grew last year, I had it from May to almost December, and it never got old enough to start shedding old stems. When I lost stems it was always from dry conditions. So if your plant is less than a year old I would look to dry and hungry rather than old. If it is more than a year old,then the stems kinking over could be King Tut shedding old stems to make room for new.


    Proven Winners

  9. Linda,

    King Tut is only hardy to zone 10, so it will not survive your Ontario winter. It also isn't a good candidate to be overwintered indoors. I've repeatedly asked our grass expert if it could be overwintered inside and he always tells me no. The one caveat to that is if you have a greenhouse or sunroom – then overwintering it indoors is a possibility.


    Proven Winners

  10. My King Tut papyrus has gone into overdrive in a container planting. Once the stalks get tall (and some are hitting close to 6 feet) they bend over and break. Am going to have to get creative to hold them up. My baby tut on the other hand is younger and seems to be in check, however it is sending up new stalks like crazy. Will definitely plant these again, they get lots of compliments.


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