Sometimes known as Common Reed, Phragmites are one of the most widespread plants on Earth and are found in marsh systems worldwide. It is an erect perennial grass 6 to 20 feet tall that remains standing all season and is fairly easily recognized by its plume-like inflorescence seed heads later in the Summer Months. There are Native and Non-native Phragmites. Native Phragmites grow in low density stands often commingle with other native plants. They have more delicate stems with a red or chestnut color towards the base and are smooth to the touch, its leaves are lighter in color than the non-native species. Non-native Phragmites typically form very dense stands which include both live stems and standing dead stems from the previous year. The leaves are blue-green with very rigid culms with a rougher texture to the stalk than the native Phragmites.
It is not always possible to prevent Phragmites, its seeds are spread by wind or animals. Most commonly, Phragmites spread like wildfire using rhizomes, which are horizontal stems growing underground. Rhizomes create thick, underground mats that can expand 30 feet per year with new plants sprouting all along the rhizome. Once established, phragmites are difficult to remove entirely and require long term management.
In year one, mow or cut in by late June or at least one month before herbicide application to prevent seed production. If the patch was unmowed in the summer or grew back significantly, mow cut, trample, or burn phragmites in the fall or winter (allowing one month for the herbicide to take effect first). Repeat for 3 consecutive years, spot treating the regrowth. Following year 3, monitor phragmites in the treated area and continue spot treating as needed.
The timing of herbicide application is very important. Herbicide Applications should be applied just before the plant goes dormant, between tasseling and first frost (late August through mid-October). The timing of herbicide applications depends on locations and is weather-dependent, but it usually occurs during August and October in the Northern States. The plant must be healthy to thoroughly up-take the herbicide. Do not cut or mow Phragmites within one month of praying, before or after. Glyphosate such as Shore-Klear is an effective systemic herbicide that kills the root system of the plant. A nonionic surfactant Cygnet Plus should be mixed in solution with glyphosate herbicides when Phragmites are treated.
Shore-Klear is a systemic herbicide that will translocate down into the root systems killing the plant. Successful invasive phragmites management in heavily infested areas can take several years and sometimes annual maintenance spot treatments.
CygnetPlus is a nonionic wetting agent, sticker, activator, and penetrant all in one. CygnetPlus Increases the effectiveness of herbicides uptake into the plant tissue.