How to Grow American Bur-Reed

Bur-reed blooms in June and July. image by Robert H. Mohlenbrock/ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA


American Bur-Reed grows in marshy areas, making it an ideal plant for naturalizing near ponds and streams. This attractive reed grows partially submerged with tall, slender foliage reaching heights of 1 to 3 feet. Flowers appear in midsummer in the form of small, spiky balls that change from whitish-green to brown as they mature. Blooms tip to the side, giving a zigzagged appearance along the erect stalk. Planted along borders of stream beds or in backyard ponds, these easy-to-grow perennials provide attractive foliage and blooms, and provide resting areas for birds.

Step 1

Plant Bur-Reed seeds immediately after harvesting. Delayed planting reduces the germination rate. Keep the seeds moist to preserve viability if planting is not convenient immediately after harvest. Storing seeds in moist peat moss may prolong their viability, but the longer seed is stored the less likely it is to germinate.

Step 2

Plant the seeds to a depth of ¼ inch in seed starter and place the flats or pots in 1 to 1½ inches of standing water. Refill the tray as water evaporates.

Step 3

Transplant the seedlings to individual pots once they are 3 to 4 inches tall and show signs of vigorous growth. Gradually increase the water levels as plants mature. By transplant time, the base of the plant should be accustomed to growing in water.

Step 4

Plant in the desired location in midsummer. Although bur-reed does not need to be submerged, marshy areas that flood for periods during spring or summer are ideal areas because this plants thrives in wet, marshy soil. American bur-reed prefers sun but grows well in partially shaded areas.

Things You'll Need

  • Seed starting trays
  • Seed starter
  • Water trays
  • Plant pots


  • USDA Plant Guide
  • State of Washington Dept of Ecology
  • University of Wisconsin

Who Can Help

  • Photos of Bur-Reed
Keywords: American Bur-Reed, Bur-Reed, plant American Bur-reed

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.

Photo by: Robert H. Mohlenbrock/ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA