The Q&A Archives: Caring For Cattails

Question: What care is required for cattails? Specifically, do thye need to be cut in the spring or fall?

Answer: Cattails (Typha latifolia) are generally maintenance free. Since they usually grow in wet or boggy areas where access is limited, most people leave them alone, allowing the plants to develop into large clumps. The older foliage will die back naturally and new foliage will emerge from the crown of the plant in the spring. If old stalks of cattails are unsightly, cut the stems down to the crown of the plant. If you want to preserve the cattails for flower arrangements, you should cut them stems in late spring and prop them upright in a dry, airy place. After they dry the heads can shatter, so handle them carefully or spray them with a floral preservative made especially for dried flowers. (Craft stores usually carry a variety of products for this purpose.)

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