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

Getting rid of non-native, invasive English Ivy from Davidsonville MD
March 19, 2014 - Just moved and need to rid the well established Ivy planted on the steep slope area around the back and side of the house as it is taking over the bushes on the top and trees in forested area at botto...
view the full question and answer

Controlling Devil's Bit in Collin County, TX
June 05, 2015 - I live in Collin County and our pasture has a growing section of Devils Bit taking over everything. I've been using 2,4-D on it with some success. What is the best method of control for this ...
view the full question and answer

Plant around Pittsburg from Weirton WV
September 19, 2009 - I have seen this plant outside of the Pittsburgh,PA area and was told it is called Midnight Cowboy. It has bright yellow flowers and long green leaves that only comes out at night(so I am told). Ca...
view the full question and answer

Plants for oak shade from Whitney TX
December 24, 2012 - I live in Whitney, Texas and have a number of beautiful Live Oak trees in a portion of my yard providing deep shade. Asian Jasmine grows in about 5 ft circle around them and then nothing! I have walk ...
view the full question and answer

Native invasives question from Arlington MA
May 20, 2011 - When I searched your website for creepers in Massachusetts, I found the following recommendations: Campsis radicans and Parthenocissus quinquefolia. But in response to a reader's question, you called...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center