En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - August 23, 2009

From: Belvedere, CA
Region: California
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Invasive horesetail in Belvedere CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can I ever get rid of horsetail? It was planted without a barrier and is now in my garden, not quite everywhere yet.

ANSWER:

There are 11 species of the genus Equisetum in our Native Plant Database, of which 5 are native to California and 4 of those loooove your area of Marin County.  These are Equisetum arvense (field horsetail), Equisetum hyemale (scouringrush horsetail), Equisetum hyemale var. affine (scouringrush horsetail) and  Equisetum laevigatum (smooth horsetail)

It doesn't really matter which you have in your garden, or perhaps you have one that has been imported from another area; they all love marshy ground, can get along in sun, part shade or shade and are very difficult to control. Improving the drainage in your garden will certainly help, but it won't solve the problem. We found an article from Iowa State University, Department of Agronomy, Equisetum-Biology and Management that discusses several options. 

Everyone wants a special spray that will just kill the one plant they are interested in eliminating. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center recommends neither for nor against the use of herbicides. We found two articles that dealt with elimination of this plant. The first is from University of Minnesota Extension Horsetail by Beth Jarvis.  Here is an excerpt from that article:

"Horsetails are difficult to eradicate without the use of herbicides. They favor damp, sandy or gravelly, shady places. Depending on where they're growing, improving drainage and fertility and increasing the organic material in the soil along with regular mowing or clean cultivation may make the site less hospitable. Digging the plants out, in all but the smallest sites, could be prohibitively difficult due to the depth and spread of the underground rhizomes."

Another article, from a UK newsgroup, has more herbicide information to add: Re: Horsetail Roots.

Our conclusion from all of this is that you may need to modify the environment in which your garden is growing. In other words, improved drainage, drier, richer, maybe with taller plants to shade out the Equisetum. Cut off the spore-bearing cones before they ripen and spread more spores, but with all those rhizomes under ground, it will be difficult to starve out the plant.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Equisetum arvense

Equisetum hyemale

Equisetum hyemale var. affine

Equisetum laevigatum

 

 

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Controlling poison oak or poison ivy in Iowa
April 29, 2010 - We recently purchased a property that is VERY wooded and has been vacant for two yrs. with little upkeep previously. We have (we were told) l00 yr old poison oak vines hanging from trees. We hired so...
view the full question and answer

Ways of eliminating smilax bona-nox
December 16, 2008 - How can I get rid of "smilax bona" or green briar vines besides digging them up one by one? I have been told by Harris County Ext. Office to just mow them.. Ha Ha Good luck with that. Is there a...
view the full question and answer

Viability of Ehretia anacua tree for Austin, TX
January 17, 2008 - I live in Austin, TX and I see you've recommended the Ehretia anacua tree for someone living here. Also, my arborist mentioned it as a replacement for non-native, invasive trees. However, the databas...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating wisteria invading from neighboring yard
October 12, 2008 - How can I get rid of Wisteria vine? It originates in my neighbor's yard. Have tried everything; gets in my Oak tree and has almost killed it. Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Killing mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) with propane torch
January 14, 2010 - Can I kill mesquite with intense fire, such as a 1.2 million BTU propane torch? I know mesquite bounces back from cutting at the soil line. The trees are in Elgin. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center