Forum home Problem solving

Horsetail on allotment

I am a first time gardener and have just taken on a smallish allotment plot. I have been digging it over ready for Spring and have found that it's covered in horsetail. Over a 1m x 2.5m bed, in two hours I've dug up enough roots to fill a 25l compost bag!

Should I give up? If not, how do I control it?



  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,297

    When you find the answer to that question, tell the world. Horsetail is one of life's miseries. You can fight it but you will never win.image

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 3,267

    Don't give up, these things are sent to try us, no easy answer.

    You can still grow stuff in the bed, hoeing whilst effect on annual weeds isn't for horsetail as you'll just cut off the top and leave the root in the ground. Digging up the root is one of the best.  When they regrow dig them up as soon as seen, by the time they open up they will have spawned.

    There are weed killers but most kill a plant based on the ration of above ground foilage and below ground root. If you are lucky you may kill it off in one area only for it to pop up somewhere else. If you decide to try a weed killer it's always advisable to use it when the weed is actively growing too and with horetail to use gloves to apply it rather than spray.    

  • Digging it out is normally the best option as you  can get as much of the root system as possible, so in some respects you're in the ideal situation to deal with it before you've got an allotment full of plants.

    Once it gets into an established flower bed it can be tough to get rid of without digging everything up and really going for it.

    At the end of the day though it's not too offensive looking and it doesn't really shade out other plants, much better than if you had something like ground elder. Plus it's incredibly easy to spot and identify so pulling the odd bit out by hand if it does get established is not too difficult.

    And if you do get overrun with it apparently it can be used to make hair conditioner and be used for polishing brass & there is some use for it!

  • cajarycajary Posts: 26

    Impossible to dig out. The roots can easily be 15 mtrs. deep. There are powerful weed killers available on the 'net. Try Googling "weed killers horsetail". I would give you the names but I'm pretty sure that it would be considered as advertising. They usually come in 5 ltr containers. These are professional products so please follow the safety instructions. I use them and my friends are amazed at the results, so was I the first time I used them.image

  • Forester2Forester2 Posts: 1,477

    The guy that has the next allotment to mine has been digging it out for three or more years - wheelbarrows full of it but he has finally given up and abandoned the plot and the plot is now up for re-rental (should come with a warning!).  It pops up in my plot but I hoe it when I see it and so far hasn't been a major problem.  I have the advantage now that I can visit almost daily and keep on top of it, so not so good if you can only visit the plot once a week.   It's worth looking into Cajary's posting comment.

  • Claire, as Forester implies, it's helpful if people on the surrounding plots are doing their bit as well; otherwise it'll keep coming back onto yours.

  • Hi Clare, you can also boil the stems, diluted makes an effective anti fungal spray for your roses (according to Jo Swift in his allotment book) 

    We have it on our allotments unfortunately. imageThose plots that are the most cultivated and looked after dont seem to have as much as the neglected ones, so I live in hope!!


  • ElusiveElusive Posts: 992

    I find pulling it regularly seems to work, I have it in my garden but its not really a pest.

    When pulling it dont just rip it out, pull gently and get your hand down into the soil to pull up as much of the root as possible.

  • Hi  again Clare, I have just watched on youtube a very interesting informative film on Horsetail. It contains a high percentage of Silica which is great for skin, acne, wrinkles, used as a hair conditioner,  aides bone density etc. Its also good for urinary and kidney conditions like gout etc. They suggest making a tea out of young horsetail plants. Might give it a go to get rid of a few wrinkles !!

    On another site, a gardener used it as I suggested above,  but also to prevent tomato blight and powdery mildew on courgettes etc. Boil plants for 20 mins and add a cup full to 2 gallons of water and spray your plants. its not all bad then !!

  • DorsetUKDorsetUK Posts: 441

    It's got 300 million years of experience of growing where it wants to be.

Sign In or Register to comment.