They can be found on almost every bank and offer numerous other plant and animal species a protected habitat, we are talking about cattails (Typha). There is hardly a lake in the park or a bank on a water course on which the characteristic cylindrical inflorescences from the cattail family cannot be recognized from a distance. The familiar sight tempts to give the plant loving nicknames. The bulrushes are known in different regions of Germany as lamp cleaners, pompom horses, cannon cleaners or chimney sweeps. But the popular aquatic and marsh plant also makes a good impression in the home pond and can develop dense stands in a short time. It is undemanding and easy to care for, but should be prevented from growing excessively.


Cattails can be propagated from seeds. For this, however, the right time is of elementary importance, as the seeds lose their ability to germinate very quickly after they mature. Fast action is therefore the order of the day, the germination capacity decreases drastically within a few weeks.

If you want to multiply your cattail by sowing seeds, you should watch the cobs carefully. As a rule, the cobs ripen between October and November, which is also called seed ripening. Once the cobs have burst, the seeds should be collected and sown immediately if possible. A substrate that is similar to the pond floor, i.e. as muddy as possible and rich in nutrients, is suitable for this. The seeds of the cattails are weatherproof and very cold-resistant, so that they can usually survive outdoor sowing unscathed in late autumn and even winter. However, seeds exposed this late will not germinate until next spring.

If the seeds are not collected, they will spread through the air and later through the water until they hit muddy ground in which to nestle.


The vigorous bank plant cattail can reach a growth of 40 to 250 cm, depending on the variety. What all varieties have in common is a conspicuous, cylindrical fruit bulb that has a decorative, brown, almost hairy appearance. The characteristic cobs can be up to 30 cm long and dry well, which makes them a popular decorative element in floristry. Cattails bloom rather inconspicuously in a greenish color in the months of June to August.

Some varieties of the plant can grow overly and need a lot of space and a root border from the start. Varieties with strong growth and a corresponding height require correspondingly deeper water.

Species particularly suitable for the home garden

For the larger pond, the varieties Typha angustifolia and Typha latifolia with a growth of up to 2 meters each are well suited for the shallow water zone. The plant needs a water depth of at least 10 and a maximum of 50 cm. It blooms between July and August, with the cobs reaching a magnificent length of 35 cm. The Typha laxmanii variety is also suitable for larger ponds with an average growth of up to 1.5 meters.
For smaller ponds, attention should be paid to a smaller height, here the Typha minima variety proves to be suitable, it can cope wonderfully with a water depth of 15 cm.


Cattails are basically easy to care for. The most important consideration that has an impact on maintenance should be made before planting in the home pond. It concerns the use of plant baskets. If the plants are placed in baskets right from the start, their urge to spread out is significantly reduced and the maintenance effort is minimized. If the plants grow in limited containers, only superficially visible, dead, dry and withered parts of the plant need to be pruned. This is primarily for the optics and less important for other plants in the pond, which get more light as a result.

However, if the plants grow unhindered, without baskets, the roots and rhizomes should also be thinned at regular intervals in order to curb growth.


Every cattail is happy about a location that is as sunny as possible. In the root area, however, it must not be too dry or too warm. The aquatic and marsh plants thrive on the banks of watercourses, lakes, streams, ponds and even in damp pots. But even in the bucket, clear water alone is not enough, cattails need a nutrient-rich environment. They prefer a muddy substrate that is as low in lime as possible and slightly acidic. Depending on the species, the tube jacks need a water depth of 10 to 50 centimeters. The height of growth is corresponding to the water depth, some species are over 2 meters tall. The cattail varieties with lower demands on the water depth are correspondingly smaller in growth.

Substrate and fertilizing

For optimal growth, the bulrushes need a lime-poor, slightly acidic mud soil that provides many nutrients. Usually such soils are naturally present in ponds, lakes and other watercourses.

Cattails need a lot of nutrients, but they can get them from the muddy soil and the water of the pond. Additional fertilization is not necessary.

To cut

Cattails grow quite quickly and can even overgrow the pond. This is both visually undesirable and downright harmful for the other plant species in the pond, which are deprived of their habitat.

In order to keep the pond visually appealing, dead, dried up and wilting parts of the plant should be removed. Cattails no longer form new shoots from the old stalks, so the dry and withered stems can be cut off without problems. Overgrown foliage should also be removed generously, especially for smaller ponds.

Bulrushes are robust and can regularly be pruned sharply. The plant uses its underground roots to form runners, from which new cattails then grow in the immediate vicinity. Cutting off the old stalks does not hinder new growth.

Secondly, pruning and clearing the roots and rhizomes is important, unless the plants were placed in suitable planters from the start. If the plants are left to their own devices, overgrowth can occur.

Both spring and winter months are suitable for cutting cattails. Under certain circumstances, the solid ice layer can then be stepped on in order to reach otherwise inaccessible parts of the plant.


Since all the varieties offered in the trade are perennial, hardy plants, special measures for overwintering bulrushes are not necessary. The plants usually survive the winter without any problems, even if the water surface is icy, provided the water is not frozen in the depths.


Cattails can be propagated in two ways. Once by sowing the seeds, as well as by dividing adult plants. For propagation by division, fresh shoots are separated from the mother plant with a piece of the thick, white rhizome and moved to the desired location. If the rhizome is retained, the new plant has a stronger hold in the water and can take root better. The division of the rhizome is usually not a problem for the plant, the wound does not need special care and usually grows over quickly.

Diseases and pests

In general, cattails are very adaptable and resilient. Problems with diseases or pests are not to be expected.

However, a problem can arise because of cattails in the pond and that has to do with their rapid growth. If the pond is lined with a liner, there is a risk that large, strong rhizomes will pierce the pond liner and cause the water to slowly seep away. Spreading the roots underneath the film can also put unnecessary strain on it and lead to tension cracks. As a rule, modern, high-quality films are not susceptible to such damage, but if the film is older, of inferior quality or very thin from the start, the plants should definitely be placed in protective plant baskets that curb excessive spreading and prevent such damage .

Interesting information about the pipe flasks

The planting of bulrushes is not recommended for very small, shallow pond systems. They tend to spread quickly and can quickly become the most dominant species in the pond, overgrow everything and ultimately displace other plants.

Once cattails are in the pond, they spread quickly through subterranean runners and can accelerate the silting up of the water. Therefore, it is worthwhile to place them in a targeted manner when inserting them for the first time, as well as to use plant baskets.

A particularly positive property of cattails is their strong water-cleaning effect. Algae are not to be expected in a pond full of cattails.

Perhaps surprisingly, cattails are edible. Above all, the rhizomes in the root area are full of starch and can be cooked like potatoes or other root vegetables. Therefore voles also love the starchy rhizomes and are known for some pond damage. So if you know that your own garden is a habitat for voles, you should use an appropriate rodent-repellent underlayer when creating a pond. Otherwise, the rodents might gnaw holes in the foil in their efforts to get to the rhizomes.

Cattails are not just great for eating, they have been used for a variety of purposes for a long time. Thanks to their decorative appearance, cattails are also used in floristry for various arrangements. In addition, special ingredients from the plant are considered remedies in traditional medicine.

Thanks to their water-clarifying properties, bulrushes are used, for example, to detoxify soils and to purify wastewater in sewage treatment plants. Cattails also have a strong insulating potential, which makes them a popular raw material in the construction industry, especially for the sustainable insulation of walls.

The decorative cattails are among the most popular pond plants in parks and gardens. The plants are quite undemanding, grow quickly and do not require much care. But that is also the crux of the matter, if cattails are not cultivated in confined vessels from the start, they can quickly spread in the pond and displace other plants.

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