How to Grow King Tut Grass in Container Gardens

King Tut grass in sunny container garden

 Kerry Michaels

Don't let the name fool you, King Tut's Grass isn't something you'd find as lawn cover. If Dr. Seuss and Martha Graham got together and designed a plant, it might look like King Tut grass. Also known as Egyptian Papyrus, this ornamental grass combines drama, grace, and humor and makes a spectacular container garden plant. While it's not technically a grass it's still easy to grow and it grows fast. It tolerates heat well and you never have to deadhead it (which means to remove blooms that have wilted). It can also be used in a water container garden.

Facts About King Tut Grass

  • Botanical Name: Cyperus papyrus
  • Size of King Tut Grass: King Tut grass (which isn't actually classified as a grass, but a grass-like plant), is a fast grower and can reach heights of 42 to 72 inches tall. It can also reach widths of 36 to 72 inches, so make sure to put it in a big pot.
  • Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Water Needs: King Tut Grass can be a fabulous plant for a water garden, so when watering, err on the side of keeping it wet, though only the roots. It's a good idea to plug any drainage holes in your container or to use a container without any drainage.
  • Hardy Temperatures: King Tut grass is hardy to 35 F.

Container Garden Design Tips for King Tut Grass

If you keep your King Tut grass well watered, it should grow to be large and spectacular. King Tut is a dramatic plant and looks really great in big, simple containers. It has the stature to be alone in a pot or could add height and interest to a grouping of container gardens.

For an entry with an impact, place a pair of identical pots of King Tut grasses flanking a door. Because of its impressive height and width, King Tut grass can be used to screen unsightly home features.

King Tut grass can also be used in combination with other plants as a centerpiece or "thriller." Try combining it with a bright ground cover, like creeping Jenny, and/or a dark sweet potato vine that will drape over the edges of a pot. You could also add a brightly colored coleus to this combination. Just make sure you don't pair it with a plant that doesn't like consistently moist soil, like succulents or cactus.

King Tut grass has a distinctly wacky quality to it, so have fun when using it in a container garden. Try putting it in an unusual or brightly colored pot to maximize the potential humor this plant can provide. From modern to classical, this plant can be dressed up or dressed down. 

If you want the texture and beauty of King Tut, but don't want the size, Baby Tut is a great choice. 18 to 24 inches high and wide, it is a great choice for small water gardens and as a filler or thriller plant.