How to Grow Narrowleaf Cattail

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Narrowleaf cattail is a perennial plant that flowers during June and July. Narrowleaf cattail grows to heights of 3 to 10 feet tall. It prefers wet areas such as ponds, marshlands, streams and lakes. Cattail has a long, slender stalk with a pistil on the end that is 3 to 8 inches long. Narrowleaf cattail is often used in wetlands to provide tertiary water treatment, which removes the bacteria found in the water. Cattail is a hardy plant that often becomes invasive.

Step 1

Plant your cattail just after the first rain in the fall. The soil should be moist but not flooded. Rake in the seed approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch into the top of the soil. Plant your cattail about 3 feet apart from one another. They can be closer together if you need the plants for erosion control. Seedbeds should be completely weed free. Plants can also be planted anytime in the year in a greenhouse. Temperatures should hover around 100 degrees to allow the seeds to germinate.

Step 2

Clip the cattails leaves and stems down to about 6 to 10 inches when they begin growing. This will help the plant use its energy to create a bigger root system and a larger plant. Separate the stems when they begin to get over crowded. You can transplant them to another location in your garden. Cattails will grow very densely together unless you thin them out.

Step 3

Fertilize your plants once a year if needed with a phosphorus fertilizer to help improve growth. Use a product such as Miracle-Gro plant food and follow the directions on the label.

Step 4

Harvest the seeds when the pods become dry and brown. Clip the pods to ensure they do not blow away. Clean the seeds with a seed cleaner and lay them flat to dry. Once the seeds have completely dried, store them in brown paper bags until the next fall. You will be able to plant the new seeds in the fall to increase your garden size.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Soil
  • Seed Cleaner
  • Plant Food


  • Narrow Leaf Cattail
  • National Resources Conservation Service
  • Kansas Wildlife and Grasses
Keywords: narrowleaf cattail, growing narrowleaf cattail, cattail

About this Author

Melody Dawn has been writing since 2004. Her work has appeared in the "Gainesville Times," "Player's Press" and USA Today. Her writing focuses on gardening, home improvement, travel, sports, business, parenting and education. Dawn holds a Master of Business and is working on a Master of Journalism.

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