Cattail Control Guide

Cattails are common emergent aquatic plants found throughout North America. They are native perennials that grow in moist soil and are adapted to water depths up to a few feet deep. Cattails have a unique flowering spike and flat blade-like leaves that reach heights from 3 to 10 feet. Cattails are common plants in large marshes and on the edge of ponds. Cattails can provide nesting habitat for some birds and waterfowl species as well as brood rearing cover for duck and fish. They help prevent erosions of dams and pond banks. Yet, with their many potential benefits, cattails frequently become pests interfering with water flow, hindering fishing, swimming, boating and can reduce plant diversity in an aquatic ecosystem.


Cattails spread quickly. A few cattails are easier to control than a large overgrowth; therefore, prompt action is warranted for better management. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

Physical/Mechanical Control

Seedling cattails can be killed by simply pulling them up before establishing rhizomes. Established cattails can be killed by repeated cutting with an Aquatic Weed Eradicator or pulling (several times a year). This depletes their energy reserves as they try to regrow and basically starves them to death. Mechanical removal, when used in conjunction with chemical control methods, will maximize success. If you wish to remove the chemically treated cattails wait at least two weeks post-treatment to ensure that the root structure has been destroyed.

Chemical Control

Herbicides that contain Glyphosate such as Shore-Klear have been the most effective to control cattails. This systemic herbicide will kill the root system of the plant. A nonionic surfactant like CygnetPlus should be mixed in solution with glyphosate herbicides when cattails are treated.

Shore-Klear is a systemic herbicide that will translocate down into the root systems killing the plant permanently. Cattails should be treated when mature. Most cattails will die in the first year of treatment; however, follow up treatments might be necessary for the following seasons.

CygnetPlus is a nonionic wetting agent, sticker, activator, and penetrant all in one. CygnetPlus Increases the effectiveness of herbicides uptake into the plant tissue.