Horsetail Reed – The Plant That's Everywhere A Guide - Absolute Gardener

Horsetail Reed – The Plant That’s Everywhere A Guide

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Horsetail Reed

Horsetail Reed is one of the toughest plants in the world. You can’t kill horsetail reed by cutting it because it will grow back from a tiny piece of rhizome. It grows everywhere and thrives in just about any environment: landscapes, gardens, pots, containers—you name it! If you have horsetail reed on your property then chances are that you’re not alone.

Horsetail reeds are so common they often go unnoticed or ignored until they really start to take over a space and grow out of control. In this guide we will cover horsetail care tips and tricks, as well as common problems you may encounter with horsetails. We’ll also talk about horsetails origins so you know where they come from!

What is Horsetail Reed?

Horsetail reed is a type of horsetail. It’s also called horsetails, horsetail plant, and bladder fern. Horsetail reeds are native to sandy or rocky soil in the Northern Hemisphere. There are around 12 species within this group that have been identified so far with more still being discovered.

Horsetail reed is the strongest type of horsetail because it’s so hard to kill, which earned this plant its nickname “the horsetails that won’t die.” It can grow in wet and dry conditions alike, as well as on a variety of different types of soil. It has an extensive root system that can break up clay soil and help to loosen compacted soils.

The horsetail, sedges, rushes, reeds, and grasses are all types of plants in the same family called monocots because they only have one seed leaf (mono-cot). They’re typically herbaceous perennials with woody roots that live in the ground.

Horsetail reed is a perennial that will grow for up to 50 years or more, depending on how it’s cared for and where it lives. It grows by producing horsetails which are made of stems topped with whorls of leaves called fronds (which makes horsetail reed one of the horsetails that won’t die).

Horsetail Reed

Origins of Horsetail Reed Plant

Horsetail reed plants are native to North America, Asia and Europe. In the United States horsetail reeds can be found in all 48 contiguous states where they grow mostly along streams and rivers or at the edge of forests. They’re named horsetails because their leaves resemble a horse’s tail when seen from above. Horsetail reeds are often found in the wild, but can also be grown as an ornamental plant.

Surprisingly horsetails are hard to kill and grow quickly when they do sprout up in your yard. They’re considered invasive species because of this, with horsetails growing back after being cut down or burned off during forest fires.

Horsetail Reed Care Guide

Horsetail Reed is a hardy plant that can be difficult to kill. It’s found in many areas of the world and thrives in most climates, but horsetail reed care varies depending on where it lives. Here are some guides.


Horsetail reed is a plant that can grow in many soil types; however, horsetail reed roots thrive best when they are given rich soils. A good rule of thumb for horsetail reeds is to amend your garden bed with compost before planting it and then mulch it once the plants have become established. If you have poor soil, horsetail reed can take up to three years before it will start showing signs of growth.


A horsetail needs at least some light to survive. Horsetails are shade-lovers and do not need direct sunlight, but they will grow better in brighter conditions. Exposure to the sun should be limited or avoided as much as possible because it causes loss of chlorophyll which is what turns horsetails brown when exposed for a long period of time.


The horsetail reed is easy to care for and needs little water. To keep horsetail reeds in good shape, simply ensure that it receives a thorough watering at least once per week if the weather is hot or dry; twice per week during more temperate seasons. Allow soil to dry out between waterings.


Horsetail reed is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures, but it prefers to be in the mid-60s during the day and at night. It’s important not to let horsetail reed get too cold or hot. Hot weather will encourage horsetail reed to grow quickly and aggressively. When it’s cold, horsetail reed can be dormant for periods of time or won’t grow at all. If a horsetail reed is in the ground, it should survive even if there are very low temperatures because of how deep below the surface horsetail reed roots go.


Horsetail reeds are a great plant for people who live in dry climates. They thrive best in humidity levels of about 40-50%. The horsetail is well adapted to be watered regularly as it has an excellent ability to store water and resist drying out which makes them perfect for indoor use. However, horsetails will not do well in a moist setting as they are not adapted to the warmer, wetter climates.

If you live in an area that is too dry for horsetail reeds or your horsetails become dusty and brown on the edges of their leaves then it means that there isn’t enough moisture available to them so make sure your plants have a drink.

If your horsetails become wilted or limp it means that they are in a too moist environment so try placing them near an open window to allow some fresh air into the space and see if this improves their health.


One of the most important things to know about horsetail reed is that they’re not heavy drinkers. It can go for days without water, which means you’ll need to fertilise it with some sort of liquid fertilizer at least once every two weeks or so in order to keep it happy and healthy. If your horsetail reed has been in the ground for more than a year, it will also need to be fertilized with granular fertilizer as well.

To fertilize horsetail reeds:

  • Place horsetail reeds in a bucket of water to soak for an hour or so. This will help the fertilizer stick to the horsetail reed’s roots and make it much easier for them to take up all that lovely goodness.
  • Mix some liquid fertiliser into a watering can, then pour it over horsetail reeds in a circular motion.
  • Pour horsetail reeds into the ground and water them generously to activate granular fertiliser, then let horsetail reeds soak for an hour or so before pouring off excess liquid. Horsetail Reed will need to be watered again in two weeks time if it has not rained at all.


Horsetail reed contains toxins that can irritate the skin and eyes. Though horsetail reeds are not as toxic to animals as they are humans, it is best to keep horsetail away from pets or children with sensitive skin.

It is best to wear gloves when handling horsetail reeds. Horsetail reed should be the last thing on your list of things you handle before going inside because it has a long and difficult-to-wash residue that can easily get in contact with other plants or surfaces, thus making them also toxic.


It is crucial to prune horsetail because it will grow out of control and suffocate plants. However, not all horsetails are the same so make sure you know what species of horsetail reed that you have before cutting down horsetails in your garden or lawn. There are some horsets that can be trimmed back and others that need to be eliminated.

  • Trim horsetail reeds when the plant starts getting taller than 12 inches, about every six months. Cut off any stems with brown or black leaves.
  • If horsetails are growing over other plants in your garden, you should consider removing them entirely from your yard because they will either suffocate or shade out other plants.

Propagation and Growth

Horsetail reed is a common plant in gardens and wetlands. Horsetail reeds are propagated by both seeds and runners, but since horsetails do not grow from seed very easily, they are most often grown from the horsetail islets that break off of the main stalk or runner. These pieces should be planted in moist soil, with the horsetail reed tops sticking out of the ground by about an inch.


Horsetail reed is a very hardy plant that can thrive in difficult conditions, but it does need to be repotted and replanted every few years. The horsetails will start to grow out of the pot after only two or three years if they are not planted into rich soil with at least six inches of depth. Repot horsetail reeds in the springtime, which is when they are actively growing and their roots will be fresh and strong.

Plant Disease

Horsetail ReedUnfortunately, horsetail reed is susceptible to a few plant diseases, the most common being horsetail blight. Horsetail blights are caused by fungi and can be transferred in wet conditions from other plants or even nearby water sources. If horsetails become infected they will start to wilt in places where it has been touched by the horsetail blight, they will also start to have dark patches of spores along their length.

The best ways to avoid horsetail blights is to keep horsetails well watered and in a sunny place with good air flow so that it doesn’t get wet or too hot. Always make sure you don’t touch your horsetails and always wash your hands after handling horsetail reed.

If horsetail blight infects a horsetail, it can be treated with baking soda or lime juice but will still need to be removed from the garden as soon as possible in order to avoid spreading spores all over the place.

Horsetail Reed Variegated

Horsetail reed variegated(Equisetum variegatum) is a perennial fern that’s mostly grown in temperate regions. Variegated horsetail reeds have long, wispy stems that grow in a clump of thin, slender leaves with lighter colors on their edges and tips. You can buy variegated horsetail reeds as a pot plant or get them from cuttings.

Common Issues with Horsetail Reed

Horsetail reed is a plant that’s everywhere and hard to kill. If you have horsetail in your garden, you might be wondering what it needs or how to keep horsetail happy. Here are some common issues with horsetails:

  • Horsetail will grow up taller than anything else around it.
  • Horsetail will try to grow over and through anything, it can find.
  • Sprouting horsetail reed heads in the middle of horticultural beds, lawns or paths are a nuisance for gardeners.
  • It’s hard to get rid of horsetail once you let it come back.
  • Horsetail reed generally dies back during winter months to the ground but can’t be allowed to dry out in this time.

Horsetail Reed

Tips for Keeping Horsetail Reed Happy

  • Horsetail reed enjoys moist environments. Keep horsetail reeds in standing water to increase humidity or mist the plants with a spray mister often.
  • Plant horsetails where they will not be disturbed by people, pets, or lawn equipment (especially when young). This will decrease stress on the plant and keep horsetails happy.
  • Horsetail reeds are not heavy drinkers, so water them infrequently but deeply to encourage the horsetail’s taproot and deep root system (which will help the plant withstand drought).
  • Feed horsetails monthly with a fertilizer that is high in phosphate or nitrogen for best results. The horsetail’s low water needs mean that horsetails do not need to be fed as often.
  • Horsetail reeds are a good choice for areas with heavy foot traffic or pets because horsetails can survive without much space.

Horsetail Reed Frequently Asked Questions

What is horsetail reed used for?

Horsetail reed is a tall perennial plant with long, straight stems–it can grow up to 12 feet high. The horsetail reeds used for crafts or art projects are harvested from the wild and will last indefinitely if stored well. Horsetail Reed is also an ancient medicinal herb that has been found in Egyptian tombs.

Is horsetail reed invasive?

Horsetail reed is not invasive. However, horsetail reeds can be considered a weed in certain situations because it does spread and fill an area if left unchecked. To stop horsetail from spreading or invading new areas of your yard you should cut the stems close to where they emerge up out of the ground (where horsetail reeds grow from horsetails) and then control the growth of horsetail in other areas, for example by pulling out or cutting back horsetail plants. If you do not want horsetail to spread or invade any new areas it might be best to plant horsetail only where desired.

Does horsetail reed grow in shade?

Horsetail reed can grow in shade and has the ability to regenerate from a single cell. Horsetail reed grows best when it is exposed to direct sun.

How tall do horsetail reeds grow?

Horsetail reeds grow upwards of two to five feet, and horsetail plants can live for up to 20 years.


Horsetail reeds are hardy plants that grow well in both wet and dry environments. They provide a great natural ground cover for any area you want to cover. Maintaining horsetail reeds is a labour of love, and horsetail plants may not be for everyone. However, even if you don’t have the time to devote to horsetail care on your property or in your garden, horsetails can still make great additions to any landscaping scheme!

If you’re looking for a horsetail reed for sale, you may find it via Amazon, and alternatively you may also get an artificial horsetail reed.

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