Sunday, 24 August 2014

How to get rid of Horsetail.

I have the worst weed on my plot that looks like a small christmas tree; this plant is called horsetail or mares tail or even rats tail. these are a few of the more common names.

Botanically it is a species of equisetum, several of which invade gardens.

This plant is very bad news for any body who has the misfortune to have it in there ground. It will grow anywhere it can. I first came across it when I use to look after tennis courts and found it growing up through the hard surface of the court. I did get rid of it in the end, read on to find out how.

Horsetail is a very primitive ,ancient plant that has been around  for at least 40,000 million years. The plant can grow up to 2 feet tall and the the root system can go down five feet into the soil.

The deep roots are really an underground system of stems that are very wide ranging. Breaking off shoots above the ground only stimulates dormant buds on the roots under ground. This is why people find that the more you dig it up the more plants will grow and the worse the problem gets. 

Horsetail is a spore bearing plant much like a fern, not a flowing plant. However it spreads by extending the underground stems, not by distributing spores.

Control can be difficult.
  • With small patches, removal of the shoots while they are tiny will prevent the weed from spreading. But you must be at it every day during the growing season.
  • Spray with round up on a weekly bases. This will kill it, however it may take three to five years.
  • Mix the round up with paraffin. This gives a quicker kill ( two years ) But your ground will not grow much until the paraffin has all gone. This is a good method only on paths and roadways.The paraffin helps to break down the waxy coating on the leaves of the plant.
  • Use a chemical called Kurtail. This can be bought on the internet. I have found that two sprays of this product will kill  horsetail dead in a month.

If you do not want to use chemical weedkillers; soak the roots of the plant with fresh vinegar. This kills the horsetail in three days. This is really only of use if you have a small number of plants. What I do is pour vinegar atIf you only have one book get this one the base of the growing plant; about half a cup per plant. It really does work. 

What every you do: DO NOT DIG IT OUT  unless you are prepared to dig through five foot and ground, fine sieving as you go.  

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