Field Horsetail

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), sometimes called mare’s tail, is an intrusive, deep-rooted perennial weed that can spread very quickly to form a thick carpet of foliage, overcrowding less vigorous plants in borders.

What is Field Horsetail?

Field Horsetail is an intrusive weed with quick-growing rhizomes that quickly send dense stands of foliage. 

Field Horsetail is simply identified with its upright, fir tree-like shoots that appear in summer.

In spring, brown stems, 20-50cm tall, appear with a cone-like spore-producing structure at the end of their stems.

In summer, sterile green shoots grow into plants around 60cm tall.

The crawling rhizomes of this destructive plant can grow down as deep as 2m below the surface, this makes them difficult to extract by digging them out, particularly if they overrun

Borders and beds. They sometimes get into gardens by spreading below the surface from a neighbouring property.

Roads adoption, local authority and planning departments will often require sufficient management plans, to show control of Field horsetail can be obtained, before taking over control/allowing planning of affected areas.

JBB GroundcareHorsetail weedJBB Groundcare

Non-weedkiller control

Extracting horsetail by hand is tricky. Even though rhizomes that grow near the surface of the soil can be forked out, the deeper ones will need a lot of digging to get them out. Shallow, weeding is not good enough and can actually make the problem much worse, as it can re-grow even from any tiny pieces that were not dug up. Nevertheless, removing the shoots as soon as they start to grow above the ground can reduce the infestation.

Weedkiller control

Invasions of Field Horsetail can be weakened substantially if you use weedkiller.

On soil, where there are no herbaceous perennials or bulbs, you can use strong weedkillers containing Glyphosate can be sprayed in late summer when growth is robust. Before using, you should bruise the shoots to make sure that you have efficient permeation.

Please note that Field Horsetail weed is very persistent so several applications over a number of years will probably be needed to completely get rid of the problem.

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