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House Plants/Why does my Papyrus have white crusty stuff on the stems?


I received several papyrus cuttings from a friend.  The Mother plant dates back to the 1970's so I'm trying very hard to keep these cuttings alive.  

All the cuttings are now together in one round, 9" pot, with no drainage of course.  The tops of the leaves did turn a bit tan on & off.  But the major concern now is that I continually have a white crust growing at the base of the plant, just above the water line.  I have picked off the crust - but last weekend I finally rinsed my small lava rock medium in water & rinsed the "roots" of the small cuttings as well.  From now on I plan to use filtered water to water the papyrus.  I've done that off & on though in the past.  Anyway, a few days into the rinse of everything & I can see the top of the water is starting to get a film if you will, on it.  The base of the plants just above the water level are getting white crusty stuff again.  Can you help?  The pot sits just below a South facing medium size window. My friends that gave me the cuttings have had their plant for years putting it out on a covered porch most of the year. They bring it in for the winter.

Hi Carol,

I assume that other than the white mineral deposits, your plants are healthy.

It is likely that the white deposits are from naturally occurring minerals in the water. So, you are right to use only filtered or distilled water. Normally, those minerals flow through the root zone and out the drainage holes, but in this case the minerals have no other place to go so they accumulate in the water, on the stems and on the sides of the pot.

In addition to the water, other sources of mineral deposits include fertilizers, the lava rocks and even the plants themselves. If you have been using fertilizer, I recommend that you stop or use it sparingly and only in very dilute concentrations.

The mineral deposits are not very attractive, but they will not cause any harm to your plant.

When indoors, provide a much sunlight as possible for your Papyrus. Outdoors, keep it in light shade.

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.

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