How to Use Bulrushes (Cattails) in Your Garden Landscapes


If you’re looking for a versatile plant to use in your garden landscapes, look no further than bulrushes (cattails).

Bulrushes are common cattails (Typha latifolia), and can be found in shallow water in wetland areas and marshy marshes throughout North America’s temperate climates.

Cattails grow tall, with broad leaves at the base, a long, slim erect stem, and a tall, cylindrical inflorescence.

If the conditions are favorable, they can reach a height of 10 feet. They have rhizomatous roots that spread swiftly to form attractive, dense clusters.

The large, dense clumps are tall and provide wildlife with both protection and food.

Common Name Common cattail, broadleaf cattail, bulrush
Botanical Name Typha latifolia
Family Typhaceae
Plant Type Perennial, herbaceous
Mature Size 5-10 ft. tall, 18-24 in. wide
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Moist, loamy
Soil pH Acidic, neutral, alkaline
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color Brown
Hardiness Zones 3-10 (USDA)
Native Area Europe, North America, Asia

Tips for Keeping Your Plants Healthy

  • Cattails are generally very low-maintenance plants, but there are a few things you can do to keep them healthy and looking their best.
  • Mulch around the base of your plants to help retain moisture and prevent weeds from encroaching.
  • Divide clumps every few years to prevent overcrowding and promote new growth.
  • Fertilize yearly with a balanced fertilizer or compost to encourage lush growth.
  • Pests and Diseases to Watch Out For While cattails are relatively resistant to pests and disease, they can be susceptible to fungal diseases like rust if they are grown in poorly drained soil.
  • Aphids may also attack the plant, particularly during periods of new growth. Keep an eye out for these pests and diseases and treat accordingly.

Lighting and Temperature

Preferences Cattails prefer full sun to partial shade and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. They will die back in the winter but will quickly regrow in the spring.


Preferences Cattails are not picky about soil type but prefer moist conditions. They will grow in both acidic and alkaline soils as long as the pH is within a range of


Needs Cattails are not heavy feeders but will benefit from an annual application of compost or a balanced fertilizer.


Cattails do not require pruning but can be trimmed back if they become too large or unruly. Simply cut the plant back to the desired height with a sharp knife or pair of shears.


Needs Cattails are drought tolerant once they are established but prefer moist conditions. Water your plants regularly, especially during periods of extended drought.

With their tall, slender stems and broad leaves, cattails (Typha latifolia) are a common sight in wetlands and marshes throughout North America.


Cattails can grow to a height of ten feet, with a long, slender stem and broad leaves at the base. The inflorescence is tall and cylindrical, and the plant produces small, brown flowers in summer.


The plant flowers in summer, producing small, brown flowers.

Common Pests

Cattails are a common sight in marshes and wetlands, and they play an important role in the ecosystem. Not only do they provide food and shelter for a variety of creatures, but they also help to control erosion and filter water.

Cattails are mostly armed against insect pests, as their thick leaves deter many would-be predators. However, they are not entirely immune to attack; larger creatures such as muskrats and crayfish will happily feast on cattails.

While this may seem like a bad thing, it actually helps to keep the population of cattails in check. In addition, animals that eat cattails help to spread the plant’s seeds, ensuring that new generations can take root.

As a result, creatures that eat cattails should not be considered a threat; instead, they play an important role in the cycle of life.

Propagating Cattail Plants

Cattails are a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of ways in the landscape. If you want to establish a new cluster of plants, they can easily be propagated by rhizomes.

In early spring, young shoots will reach a height of 5-10 inches and can be easily separated from the parent plant. Using a shovel, carefully remove the plant from the ground making sure that a sufficient amount of undamaged root is attached.

Once you have separated the plants into manageable portions, place them in a moist location such as beside a pond or in an area that is prone to flooding.

They should be planted in soil that is moist but not soggy and they should be able to stand in a maximum of 12 inches of water. With proper care, your cattails will thrive and provide you with years of enjoyment.

Types of Cattails

Cattails are a type of aquatic plant that is commonly found in marshes and wetlands. These plants are easily recognizable by their long, narrow leaves and cylindrical seed heads.

Although cattails are typically found in damp or wet areas, they can also grow in dry soil as long as there is sufficient moisture. There are many different species of cattail, and some of them can be quite invasive.

Three other cattail species that may be of interest to the home gardener, but are native to Europe and Asia and may become invasive if not managed, are dwarf bulrush, elegant cattail, and narrowleaf cattail.

Dwarf bulrush is a dwarf species of cattail with attractive and rounded catkins that can grow to be as short as 2 feet tall. The leaves of the elegant cattail have swirling threads.

It also has beautiful golden catkins the size of walnuts. Narrowleaf cattail has narrow leaves as opposed to the broader leaves found in other kinds.

While these other species of cattails may be interesting to look at, it is important to be aware that they can become invasive if they are not managed properly.

How long does it take to grow cattail?

Cattails are a plant that many people are familiar with, even if they don’t know the name. These plants are often found in marshes and wetlands and have a long, thin stem with a spiky top.

Cattails are also known for their large, cone-shaped flowers, which appear in late summer. So, how long does it take to grow cattail? The answer may surprise you.

While the plants that are sold commercially are usually already mature, it can take a couple of years for cattails to reach this stage.

The plants shipped to you take time to grow and it could require a couple of years before you begin to see the catkins of summer, which are an iconic feature in these plants. Plant cattails in pots during spring after temperatures are at 60 F.

Do cattails grow on land?

Cattails are a type of aquatic plant that is commonly found near the edges of ponds and other bodies of water. They get their name from their long, thin leaves which resemble the tail of a cat.

Cattails are also sometimes called reeds, due to their similarities in appearance to this type of plant. Although they are typically associated with water, cattails can also grow on land. Their roots, known as rhizomes, develop underground in low-lying, shallow areas.

Cattails are often considered to be nuisance plants, as they can spread quickly and crowd out other vegetation. However, they do provide some benefits, such as providing shelter and food for wildlife.

In addition, their presence can help to indicate the presence of water nearby, which can be useful for people looking for a source of fresh water.

What time of year do you plant cattails?

Cattails are a common sight along marshes and wetlands, but these versatile plants can also be used to create an attractive addition to your home landscape.

If you have cattails that have become too crowded or have simply outgrown their current location, you may be wondering when is the best time to transplant them.

The ideal time to move your cattails back to their original place is in early autumn following a recent rain. The seedlings should be planted in wet soil, like in a water source about 3 feet away.

Keep in mind that cattails can self-propagate and will in the future. With a little bit of care, you can enjoy the beauty of these plants for many years to come.

Can you plant cattails in your yard?

Cattails are often found in the edges of ponds and lakes, but they can also work very well as backyard plants. You can plant them inside and without water, or in pots or on the ground.

Cattails are very versatile and easy to care for, making them a great choice for any gardener. They are also relatively low maintenance, and will not require much attention once they are established. In addition, cattails are very effective at preventing soil erosion.

Their long roots help to hold the soil in place, while the dense network of blades helps to deflect wind and water. As a result, cattails can play an important role in preventing soil erosion.

Are cattails easy to grow from seed?

Cattails are an easy plant to grow from seed. The seeds can be collected from the plant with little effort and used to repopulate a damaged swamp or waterway.

Cattails can hold up to 25,000 seeds, making them an ideal plant for this purpose. The seeds can be planted in moist soil and will germinate within a few weeks. Once established, cattails will spread quickly and can create a dense stand of vegetation.

Cattails are an important plant in many wetland ecosystems and provide food and shelter for a variety of wildlife species.

Can I grow cattails in my yard?

Cattails are a type of wetland plant that is often found growing near the edge of ponds and lakes. While these plants are typically associated with wet environments, they can also be grown in dry garden beds.

Cattails are relatively easy to care for, and they make an attractive addition to any landscape.

In addition, cattails can help to prevent soil erosion and provide habitat for wildlife. If you are interested in growing cattails in your yard, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First, cattails require full sun to thrive. Second, these plants can spread rapidly, so it is important to contain them in a pot or erosive-resistant container. Finally, cattails need regular watering, so be sure to check the soil moisture levels frequently.

With a little bit of care, you can enjoy the beauty of cattails in your own backyard.

Do cattails grow naturally?

Cattails are one of the most versatile plants in the world. They can be found in dense stands in wetlands and marshes all over the globe, and they can also be adapted to a range of different habitats.

In fresh or brackish waters, cattails can grow in up to two feet of water, or they can develop on floating mats. Regardless of their environment, cattails are uniquely suited to their surroundings.

Their long, slender leaves help to deflect water and wind, and their thick roots provide support and stability.

In addition, cattails are highly efficient at filtering water, making them an important part of the ecosystem. Whether you’re looking for privacy or a natural way to purify water, cattails are an excellent choice.

Where do cattails grow?

Cattails are one of the most versatile and adaptive plants in the world. They can be found in wetlands and marshes all over the globe, and have the ability to thrive in both brackish and fresh water.

Additionally, cattails can grow to a height of 2 feet, or develop on floating mats. This versatility allows cattails to play an important role in wetland ecosystems, providing habitat and food for a variety of wildlife.

In North America, cattails are a favorite food of beavers, muskrats, and ducks. The dense stands of cattails also provide refuge for many small animals from predators. As a result, cattails are an essential part of healthy wetland ecosystems.

How hard is it to grow cattails?

Cattails are one of the easiest wetland plants to grow. They can be found in a myriad types of conditions, from marshes to bogs to swamps. As long as the soil is continuously moist, cattails will thrive.

They can even survive in as little as twelve inches of water. However, if you’re planting them in a boggy region and you have dry summer weather, it’s important to provide water for the plants.

Once they’re established, cattails are relatively low-maintenance and can spread quickly. With a little care, you can soon have a healthy stand of cattails that will add beauty and interest to your landscape.

How do you grow cattails at home?

Cattails are an easy plant to grow at home as they don’t require too much maintenance. The best time to plant them is in the partial or full sun and they will thrive in bright conditions.

In terms of watering, cattails like moist conditions but you don’t want to overdo it as this can result in root rot. They can be developed in containers or planted directly into the soil of your water gardens.

If you’re planting them directly into the soil, make sure it’s similar to that found in wetlands. When it comes to fertilizing, only do so in early spring as this is when they need it the most.

Lastly, every few years it’s a good idea to divide up the cattails as this will help them to grow even more vigorously. By following these simple tips, you’ll have no problem growing cattails at home.

Jessica Miles

Jessica Miles is a writer for Botanique Boutique, a plant and gardening blog. She has always loved plants, flowers, and anything green. When she was younger, she used to watch her grandfather garden and would be in awe of the beautiful flowers he would grow. Now Jessica writes about all things related to plants and gardening - from beginner tips on how to start growing your own plants, to in-depth guides on caring for a specific type of flower or plant. She loves helping others learn about this fascinating hobby, and hopes that her writing will inspire people to get outside and enjoy nature!

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