House Plants/houseplant ID


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I got this plant from a friend about 1 year ago. She kept it in her home in southern exposure (we live in WI), and it is unknown how long she had it or when it was last repotted. When I got it, it was doing very well, and I brought it to my office since I am running out of room for plants at home. My office is climate controlled with little variance and PLENTY of indirect light and I have other plants there that do very well. Normally, I am successful in caring for plants, although I do not know what kind this is, and I have been struggling. They told me that it was an "Umbrella Fern" when I got it, but pix I have found of them do not seem to match. This plant was doing very well for a while, and when it does it is generally full and lush, but then it began to fail considerably. Once much of it died, it began to come back, which it did fully. Now, after a few months, it is failing again (even though there is new growth-is this a cycle?). It is in a 10"-12" pot. I would like to learn how to properly care for it, although I cannot identify it to learn what it needs. Please help!

Hi Brian,

There is so little left of your plant that it is almost unidentifiable. However, it is a Cyperus alternifolius, more commonly called Umbrella Plant. It is a close relative of Papyrus.

I do not see any healthy live foliage on this plant so I would be most surprised if it can be resurrected. The leaves are withered, probably because the roots have rotted and can no longer absorb moisture. On the other hand, if you ever allowed the soil to get completely dry deep into the pot, then that will also destroy the roots.

The pot is too large for the plant and that makes over watering more likely, even though this is a plant that likes soil that stays moderately moist.

Cyperus does best in a tight pot located on a sunny windowsill where it can get lots of direct sun. Water when the top half-inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

Good luck reviving your plant, although I do suspect it is too late.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

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Will Creed


I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.


I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

BA, Amherst College

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