Common Cattail

By: C. Colston Burrell
Common cattail has distinctive vertical foliage that compliments any water garden.

What would a water garden be without cattails? Their strikingly vertical foliage and brown flower heads are among the most typical of all bog plants in the wild. They're a must for a natural look.



Description of common cattail: The flat green swordlike leaves run straight up and down, perpendicular to the water. They can reach 10 feet in height in the wild but remain smaller when grown in pots. Each cluster of leaves bears a dense brown catkin on a tall straight stem in mid to late summer. The flowers last until fall, sometimes even through much of the winter. Ease of care of common cattail: Easy.

Growing common cattail: Grow cattails in containers, otherwise they can be quite aggressive. They do well in full sun or partial shade and grow in damp soil or up to 12 inches of water.

Propagating common cattail: By division or seed.

Uses of common cattail: The dramatic effect of the cattail's foliage is most noticeable when there is enough open water in front of the plant that its reflection is seen clearly. It also makes a choice background plant. The flower clusters can be dried for indoor arrangements.

Related species of common cattail: The common cattail (Typhalatifolia) is found in the wild throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The narrowleaf cattail (T. angustifolia) is similar but has very narrow leaves and forms a shorter plant (4 to 6 feet) than the common cattail. The miniature cattail (T. minima) is particularly graceful and attains only 12 to 18 inches in height. It is not as tolerant of deep water or cold temperatures as the other cattails, although it is hardy to zone 5.

Scientific name of common cattail: Typha latifolia


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