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Common Cattail Plant, shoreline reed

Cattails, scientifically known as Typha latifolia, are common weeds found in ponds, lakes, and wetland areas. Common names include broadleaf cattail, common cattail, and cat o nine tails.

They have tall stalks of green blades that can grow 6-10 feet tall. At the top of the stalks, cattails produce brown fuzzy catkin flower spikes. These catkins resemble a cigar in shape and color. Cattails spread easily through rhizomes and seeds. One cattail seed head can produce 250,000 seeds each year, which can be carried to other areas by wind or birds.

Burreed is a shoreline reed that looks similar to the cattail. Burreed is a shorter green blade or reed but has no "catkin". Pragmites is another tall reed that grows in wet areas and along pond or lake shores. The phramites produce a tassle at the top similar to the top of a corn stalk.

cattails on pond bank
remove cattails from pond

Spreading Cat tails

Cattails spread easily. They can grow in moist soil conditions and in water up to 4 feet deep. Cattails spread by rhizome (root extensions) and seed.

One cattail seed head can produce 250,000 seeds each year. The seeds are easily carried to other areas by wind or birds. Seeds can remain viable for years after being transported to a new location.

This means that cattails can quickly colonize new areas and expand their population. It's important to manage cattails to prevent them from becoming invasive and overrunning a pond or wetland area.

catkin cattail
how do cattails spread

Are cattails good for a pond?


Cattails can be beneficial to a pond's health in several ways. They provide habitat for young fish. Typha latifolia create a buffer for new water entering the pond. Cattails also capture unwanted nutrients, metals, and sediment, which helps improve water quality.

However, it's important to note that cattails can attract undesired wildlife like muskrats and geese, and mosquitoes are also attracted to the stagnant water where cattails grow. If left unmanaged, cattails can become invasive and overtake a pond, limiting access and reducing water depth. Spot treating cattails with herbicides or manually removing them are common methods of control to ensure that they don't take over a pond.

Are cattails invasive?

Left unmanaged, they can overtake a pond, limiting access and reducing water depth. Spot treating cattails to control over-population is our recommendation.

How to get rid of cattails in a pond

Removing cattails with a rake or pulling by hand are possibilities. They are both time consuming but safe options. Removing with equipment is faster but can have negative results. Accidentally digging too deep to remove roots can create pond leaks.

Any fragment of the cattail root that is left behind can also sprout a new plant. For larger stands of cattails, this is why aquatic safe herbicides are often the most effective choice.

how to kill cattails

How to kill cattails

The Cattail Killer Pack is the best treatment option to kill cattails to the roots. This kit includes Clearcast, Cattzilla, and PlexMate. By mixing these treatments together and tank spraying on vegetation, there is better contact & penetration. The Cattzilla speeds up break down time of stalks. There are no water use restrictions after use. Results in 7-10 days.

Clearcast is an effective aquatic herbicide for cattails. It is important to wait to spray until stalks are at least 12" tall. Tank spray vegetation directly. There are no water use restrictions after use. Results begin to be noticed after 1-2 weeks. After cattail herbicide kills weeds, follow up with Muck Remover pellets to break down dead waste and muck. Muck Remover cleans shorelines and restores them to their former beauty.

When is the best time to spray cattails?

It is important to wait until the cattails are at least 12 inches tall before applying herbicides. This ensures that the herbicide has the best chance of being absorbed by the plant and effectively killing it. Additionally, treating cat tails during this time helps prevent them from spreading and taking over the pond or wetland area. Follow-up treatments are often needed to kill larger groups of cattails.

Cattail Control Options