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Whether upside down or right side up, umbrella palm cuttings will still take root.

Check in the houseplant book of your choice (other than one I’ve written) or just about anywhere on the Internet and you will see that, to take a cutting of an umbrella palm, also called umbrella papyrus (Cyperus alternifolius), a popular houseplant, you have cut off the top of a stem and place it upside down in glass of water. And it really works!

The odd thing though is that the cutting doesn’t have to be upside down. Whether you place it upright, on its side, upside down or at any angle that pleases you, as long as it is in a very humid environment, the cutting will take root and begin to produce new stems. I’m not arguing that the information is false exactly, but it is curious that so many authorities insist the cutting must be upside down when in fact the angle is of no importance.

No matter at what angle you place your cutting, when roots and new stems appear, it’s time to plant the baby in a pot of soil… with its new stems pointing upwards, of course!

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Place the plant in a cache-pot to ensure adequate watering.

Always keep the soil of this plant not only moist, but out and out soggy, since the papyrus is semi-aquatic. My suggestion: place the pot in a cache-pot up to twice as wide as the pot… and keep the cache-pot filled with water to about ¾ of its height at all times. This is one plant you simply can’t overwater!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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