Cattails can be a visually pleasing aspect of your aquatic landscape. They provide valuable cover for fish and other wildlife and help in the uptake of excess nutrients. However, they also can spread very rapidly and take over a pond. If this sounds familiar, don't panic. Control can be accomplished with the right tools and the proper timing.
Cattails grow vigorously throughout the spring and summer in order to go into seed. During this time, most of the nutrients are flowing from the roots to the flower. As the fall approaches, this process reverses. Nutrients head back down to the root system and the plant goes dormant. It is during this period that cattails are most vulnerable to aquatic herbicides. This reversal in nutrient flow will carry the herbicide to the roots, resulting in a more complete kill. The most common chemical used in this situation is glyphosate mixed with a surfactant. It is a systemic herbicide which moves throughout the plant and is a common ingredient in residential weed killers. However, don't just run out and grab a jug of Roundup and spray away. While the active ingredient may be the same, the inactive ingredients make all the difference. Common weed killers can be harmful to fish and other aquatic wildlife, read the label. The only pesticides that should ever be sprayed in or around a pond are EPA labeled for aquatics and should be applied by a licensed aquatic pesticide applicator. I have already witnessed the cattails starting to "brown out" here in South Carolina, and before too long they will be dormant. Cattails need to be sprayed soon for effective control. Feel free to contact us with cattail or any other aquatic questions.