Cyperus alternifolius 'Variegatus'

Common Name: umbrella plant 
Type: Rush or Sedge
Family: Cyperaceae
Zone: 9 to 10
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Greenish-brown
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Water Plant, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Wet Soil


Grow in wet, boggy soils in part shade to full shade. Best in part shade. Leaves may scorch if grown in full sun or if exposed to hot, drying winds in hot summer climates. Grows well in both standing water (up to 4”) and in boggy soils. This tropical sedge is only winter hardy to USDA Zone 9. Leafy bracts will brown up if exposed to frost and plant roots will not survive temperatures below 15°F. In the St. Louis area, these plants are tender perennials that must be overwintered indoors. Pot up plants in fall before first frost and bring indoors during winter. In USDA Zones 9 and 10, these plants may easily be grown as perennials and will freely self-seed in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cyperus alternifolius, commonly called umbrella plant or umbrella palm, is a perennial sedge that features a grass-like clump of triangular green stems typically growing to 2-3’ tall. Each stem is topped by a whorl of 10-25 drooping leaf-like bracts that resemble the ribs of a raised umbrella. Flowers in greenish-brown clusters appear in summer in the bract axils.

Genus name comes from the Greek word kypeiros which was the name given to some local sedges.

Specific epithet means having leaves arranged alternately.

'Variegatus’ is a variegated cultivar that usually grows slightly smaller than the species (to 2’ tall). Its bracts and stems are green, mottled and striped with white. Variegated foliage sometimes reverts to green over time.


No serious insect or disease problems. Not winter hardy to St. Louis area.


Water gardens, bogs, pond/stream peripheries, tubs, pots or containers. Houseplant.