For thousands of years, horsetail has been used as herbal medicine. This living fossil even existed before dinosaurs. Horsetail, also called horse bristle, shave grass, and scouring rush, is a therapeutic plant widely seen in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
Horsetails are aquatic plants and are often used as decoration at the edge of ponds. They thrive in wet environments, even flourishing in standing water, making them perfect additions to backyard ponds.
In this article, we will discuss how to plant horsetail in your backyard pond. We will also be discussing some health and care tips in keeping them contained.
How to Grow Horsetail in Your Pond: Care & Grow Guide
Horsetail is a prehistoric plant that grows 100 feet tall with a tree-like appearance. It has jointed and skinny stems that are wrapped in black bands. This plan almost looks like a bamboo tree. However, today’s common horsetail grows about 4 feet tall, and for thousands of years has been widely used for its health benefits.
Horsetails thrive in moist and rich soils and are often planted in water gardens, ponds, and stream banks. They can tolerate up to 4-inch-deep water over their roots. Despite its short stature, horsetail can provide year-round color and structure in wet environments and partially to fully sunny areas.
Horsetails are aquatic plants and often decorate the edge of ponds or water gardens to provide coverage for pond equipment or complement the accent to a pond. This plant comes in many species, and the most commonly used in backyard ponds is the horsetail rush (Equisetum Hyemale).
If you are planning on adding horsetails to your backyard ponds, here’s how to plant them.
Step 1: Plant the horsetail in a 12-inch-deep-and-wide pot or container since it can grow up to 4 feet tall. Make sure the pot has drainage holes at the bottom.
Step 2: Fill the pot or container with loamy soil, and plant the horsetail at the bottom of the pot. Do not use rocks as a substitute for soil as horsetail will not thrive in it.
Step 3: Choose an area of your backyard pond that receives full sun to partial shade since horsetail thrives in such environments. Dig a hole into the inside edge of your pond at the same width and depth as your pot.
Place your potted horsetail in the hole you dug into the edge of your pond. Horsetails prefer soil and water that is slightly acidic, with a pH level of 4.5 to 6.5.
Step 4: Carefully submerge the horsetail into your backyard pond with stable support. Leave at least 1 inch of water above the soil of the plant. Make sure water can penetrate through the drainage holes of the pot.
Also, check the soil to make sure it is water-soak. If the water level drops, water the plant every day to ensure the potting soil remains soaked and wet.
If your horsetail is not growing while submerged into the pond, consider increasing the water amount to accommodate the plant to the wet environment.
Step 5: Horsetails are invasive plants, so consider containing their roots in the pot. You can also use soil barriers to do so. When the stems of the horsetail are old and turning brown, prune them away. This will maintain the plant’s look and growth.
You can purchase horsetail at your local nursery or grocery store. You don’t need seeds to plant horsetails in your backyard pond. This plant sprouts through the rhizome, which is a stem that extends underground.
Early spring is the ideal time to plant horsetails in your pond. This hardy plant can withstand harsh winters, especially if you reside in an area with a northern climate. It can grow to its ideal height in just a few weeks, and it is one of the fastest-growing plants. However, horsetail can be toxic to grazing animals, so be extra careful when planting some in your pond.
Read this article if you would also like to know more about: Elephant Ear in a Pond.
Growing horsetails in your backyard pond can be quite challenging since these are aggressive spreaders or invasive plants. It is best to plant them in a pot or container to control their roots and growth. Generally, horsetails are native to Europe, making them able to withstand harsh winters.
Also, note that horsetails do not only spread through underground rhizomes but also through their spores, so containing them is a challenge. Adding fertilizers to horsetails isn’t necessary because they generally don’t like rich and fertile soil.
As mentioned above, horsetail adapts well to various lighting. It can grow in full sun to partial shade, but prefers filtered shade, like in the forest ground under arduous trees.
Temperature and Humidity
Since horsetails can tolerate harsh winters’ weather, they are hardy to USDA zones 3 to 11. They prefer high humidity for several hours and best grow in low light. During winter, the stems of a horsetail fade.
Diseases and Pests
As horsetails have the reputation to be invasive, they don’t have a serious disease or pests’ nemesis. The main challenge of growing horsetails in your pond is to keep them under control and prevent their roots from extending into your pond. You may need to remove unwanted horsetail plants that spread through your pond by digging and removing their roots.
Another way to eliminate unwanted horsetails is by cutting the reed-like stems where they appear in your pond. You have to do this continuously until the plant surrenders and dies.
You should also be careful when applying herbicide or any other killing chemicals when eliminating unwanted horsetail in your pond. This might kill your other plants, or worse, your beloved fishes. Besides, using harmful chemicals can be toxic to you, your children, and your pets.
Horsetail Common Species
Here are some related species that are also known as horsetail.
- Giant Horsetail
The equisetum giganteum, also referred to as giant horsetail, is native to South and Central America. It is hardy only to USDA zone 8. The giant horsetail thrives in full sun to partly shaded and can grow to 10 feet tall or more.
- Variegated Horsetail
The variegated horsetail’s scientific name is equisetum variegatum. Native to Canada and the northern United States, this species of horsetail can only grow 6 to 18 inches tall. The variegated horsetail is also a hardy plant, and the term variegated horsetail is due to its black and white sheaths. The stems of the variegated horsetails are way prettier when they show up compared to those of the equisetum hyemale. They thrive in full sun to partly-shaded environments.
- Equisetum Arvense
The equisetum arvense, also known as field or corn horsetail, is another species of horsetail. It can grow up to 20 inches tall, and its growth is often hindered by the dryness of the soil. Thus, in some areas, it can only grow 8 inches tall at most. Generally, the field horsetail is categorized as a weed due to its invasiveness, like the equisetum hyemale. However, it lacks some aesthetic qualities. Field horsetails are lighter than equisetum Hyemalis. They can even thrive and spread in dry conditions.
Horsetail can be a great addition in your backyard, with its bright green appearance and herbal uses. However, you should not overlook this plant’s invasiveness. Horsetails are aggressive invaders, so keep them contained and immediately eliminate unwanted and dying stems to keep them vibrant, well-controlled, and good-looking in your pond.