How to (Gardening) is intended as a useful resource to clients of Garden Displays Ltd or anyone looking for a brief but comprehensive and helpful insight of specific garden topics. Subject matter is influenced by areas of interest identified by client FAQ's. As topics arise this resource  will continue to grow.  

How to control mare's- tail

by John Gordon - 20:34 on 19 December 2018

Horse tail, Equisetum arvense often referred to wrongly as mare’s-tail, which is the pond weed Hippurus vulgaris, is manageable but extremely difficult if not impossible to eradicate. 

Equisetum is a monotypic genus : it is the only living genus of it’s entire class, although there are several species. Fossil records show an ancestral line dating back 400 million years with some species having been as tall as today’s trees.

It’s resilience is down a number of factors; it’s waxy stems and lack of leaves which are in-fact whorled branches repulse the effective absorption of weed killer. Weed killer will also struggled to travel right down the roots which which can reputably go down into the ground as far as two metres as well as fragmenting into many regenerative pieces when disturbed by mechanical cultivation.

 

Equisetum is considered a native of most of the northern temperate hemisphere, preferring cool, wet climates and is found in habitats such as woodlands, grasslands, fields and near water margins.

 

Equisetum meaning horse bristle refers to the similarity many of the genus have with the tail of a horse aend arvense means of field or cultivated land which reminds us of the most likely reason it’s is so troublesome in our gardens whilst not so noticeably dominant in other habitats. Ecologically it is considered a poor competitor with established natural vegetation but just more noticeable in cultivated land and gardens with newly planted or smaller growing plants.

 

Equisetum hardly noticeable in natural vegetation

 

Very noticeable in low growing planting more “recently “ planted

 

 

Equisetum is classified with ferns as it reproduces by spores which incidentally are not considered to be a primary method of introduction into gardens . Common ways it enters gardens are from its rhizomatous roots creeping into gardens from neighbouring land or in soil or plants brought into the garden contaminated with its roots.

 

So eradication is perhaps over optimistic and if possible would certainly take many years to achieve. Significant control with a planned strategy is realistic.

 

  1. Digging out the mass bulk of congested roots, although they will fragment, is worthwhile to reduce the overall volume of a large infestation.
  2. If digging out all existing ornamental plants interwoven with Equisetum is undesirable regular cutting shoots as they emerge will over time (years) deprive the plant of its ability to produce adequate carbohydrate reserves through photosynthesis and reduce its appearance comprehensively.
  3. Badly infested plants especially those less or similar in height to Equisetum are where possible best removed completely. Contaminated plants and all roots and shoots of Equisetum should be placed on hard standing to dry out completely and burnt.
  4. Where desired plants will not be damaged by weed killer Equisetum can be treated with a weed killer called Kurtail which contains Glufosinate ammonium. The Equisetum should be in active growth and at its mature size (around 60cm) and covered to run off with Kurtail to maximise absorption and root depth penetration. Kurtail deactivates in contact with the soil. It is recommended to leave the treated weeds untouched for three weeks to maximise effectiveness of treatment. This procedure may have to be repeated over several years for satisfactory results before replanting the area is contemplated.

 

Kurtail may need several applications

 

5.Sites which have a history of containing Equisetum are best planted with shrubs, herbaceous perennials and grasses which grow taller than one metre and have a dense ground cover habit which excludes light to the ground and in turn weed germination.

These plants can be potted in pots large enough to allow a year or two of growth and plunged into the soil if some planting is desired. This planting strategy often used to control highly invasive plants such a certain bamboo species from spreading aggressively allows ornamental plant cover and the ability to lift and retreat ground if time shows that control has not been effective enough. Once adequate control of the site is achieved these plants can be lifted, their pots removed and replanted.

6.Equisetum growing in grass can be easily controlled by regular cutting of grass. A strategy to control horse tail

 

Horse tail, Equisetum arvense often referred to wrongly as mare’s-tail, which is the pond weed Hippurus vulgaris, is manageable but extremely difficult if not impossible to eradicate. 

Equisetum is a monotypic genus : it is the only living genus of it’s entire class, although there are several species. Fossil records show an ancestral line dating back 400 million years with some species having been as tall as today’s trees.

It’s resilience is down a number of factors; it’s waxy stems and lack of leaves which are in-fact whorled branches repulse the effective absorption of weed killer. Weed killer will also struggled to travel right down the roots which which can reputably go down into the ground as far as two metres as well as fragmenting into many regenerative pieces when disturbed by mechanical cultivation.

 

Equisetum is considered a native of most of the northern temperate hemisphere, preferring cool, wet climates and is found in habitats such as woodlands, grasslands, fields and near water margins.

 

Equisetum meaning horse bristle refers to the similarity many of the genus have with the tail of a horse aend arvense means of field or cultivated land which reminds us of the most likely reason it’s is so troublesome in our gardens whilst not so noticeably dominant in other habitats. Ecologically it is considered a poor competitor with established natural vegetation but just more noticeable in cultivated land and gardens with newly planted or smaller growing plants.

 

Equisetum hardly noticeable in natural vegetation

 

Very noticeable in low growing planting more “recently “ planted

 

 

Equisetum is classified with ferns as it reproduces by spores which incidentally are not considered to be a primary method of introduction into gardens . Common ways it enters gardens are from its rhizomatous roots creeping into gardens from neighbouring land or in soil or plants brought into the garden contaminated with its roots.

 

So eradication is perhaps over optimistic and if possible would certainly take many years to achieve. Significant control with a planned strategy is realistic.

 

  1. Digging out the mass bulk of congested roots, although they will fragment, is worthwhile to reduce the overall volume of a large infestation.
  2. If digging out all existing ornamental plants interwoven with Equisetum is undesirable regular cutting shoots as they emerge will over time (years) deprive the plant of its ability to produce adequate carbohydrate reserves through photosynthesis and reduce its appearance comprehensively.
  3. Badly infested plants especially those less or similar in height to Equisetum are where possible best removed completely. Contaminated plants and all roots and shoots of Equisetum should be placed on hard standing to dry out completely and burnt.
  4. Where desired plants will not be damaged by weed killer Equisetum can be treated with a weed killer called Kurtail which contains Glufosinate ammonium. The Equisetum should be in active growth and at its mature size (around 60cm) and covered to run off with Kurtail to maximise absorption and root depth penetration. Kurtail deactivates in contact with the soil. It is recommended to leave the treated weeds untouched for three weeks to maximise effectiveness of treatment. This procedure may have to be repeated over several years for satisfactory results before replanting the area is contemplated.

 

Kurtail may need several applications

 

5.Sites which have a history of containing Equisetum are best planted with shrubs, herbaceous perennials and grasses which grow taller than one metre and have a dense ground cover habit which excludes light to the ground and in turn weed germination.

These plants can be potted in pots large enough to allow a year or two of growth and plunged into the soil if some planting is desired. This planting strategy often used to control highly invasive plants such a certain bamboo species from spreading aggressively allows ornamental plant cover and the ability to lift and retreat ground if time shows that control has not been effective enough. Once adequate control of the site is achieved these plants can be lifted, their pots removed and replanted.

6.Equisetum growing in grass can be easily controlled by regular cutting of grass.


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