perennial

Cattail

Typha gracilis

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Cattail (Typha gracilis) at Canadale Nurseries

Cattail foliage

Cattail foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  3 feet

Spread:  3 feet

Sunlight:  full sun 

Hardiness Zone:  4a

Other Names:  Bullrush, Reedmace, syn. Typha lugdunensis

Description:

Although a native variety, it crosses readily with introduced European varieties that can be invasive; use pond containers to control spreading; a marginal plant with narrow leaves suitable for planting in clay bottomed ponds or streams

Ornamental Features

Cattail has masses of beautiful spikes of brown catkins rising above the foliage from mid summer to early fall, which are most effective when planted in groupings. Its grassy leaves are green in color. The foliage often turns yellow in fall. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Cattail is an herbaceous perennial with a rigidly upright and towering form. Its medium texture blends into the garden, but can always be balanced by a couple of finer or coarser plants for an effective composition.

This plant will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and should be cut back in late fall in preparation for winter. It is a good choice for attracting birds to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Invasive

Cattail is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Water Gardens
  • Container Planting
  • Bog Gardens

Planting & Growing

Cattail will grow to be about 30 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 3 feet. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 10 years.

This plant should only be grown in full sunlight. It prefers to grow in moist to wet soil, and will even tolerate some standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This species is native to parts of North America. It can be propagated by division.

Cattail is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. With its upright habit of growth, it is best suited for use as a 'thriller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination; plant it near the center of the pot, surrounded by smaller plants and those that spill over the edges. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

 
 
Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Characteristics
Massing  Garden  Container  Bog  Water 
Applications
Flowers  Attracts Wildlife 
Ornamental Features