How to Grow Small Bur-Reed


Found scattered throughout most regions of Canada and portions of the United States, the small bur-reed is considered threatened or endangered in several areas. The bur-reed, while not considered a directly beneficial plant for humans, provides food and shelter materials to birds and small mammals. Small bur-reed grows along standing water areas. To grow small bur-reed, create an aquatic environment as close to its natural habitat as possible before transplanting outdoors.

Step 1

Mark the inside of your tray with a pencil or pen at 1/2-inch intervals, starting at the bottom and working up one side of the tray. Make sure your tray has no holes in it and set it on a flat, level surface.

Step 2

Set your pots in the tray next to one another, resting flat on the bottom of the tray. Fill your pots with soil to within a 1/2-inch of the top of the pot.

Step 3

Add an inch of water to the tray and wait an hour for it to absorb into the pots. Refill the water as needed to maintain the inch depth once the soil in the pots is fully saturated.

Step 4

Plant the seeds into the pots approximately a ¼-inch deep and cover. As the seeds germinate and grow, increase the water level by adding a ½-inch more every one to two weeks to keep up with the water demands of the plants.

Step 5

Harden off the plants by placing the tray and seedlings in a cold frame during the spring and into the summer. Keep an eye on the water levels during this time to be sure the plants are always in standing water.

Step 6

Plant bur-reed plants in the summer in areas of full sun along the shallow edges of ponds or marshes. Spaced out or grouped, the plants should be in an area that isn't prone to fluctuating water conditions or drought.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you can't plant fresh seeds right away, store them in a cool, moist environment. Often a plastic bag partially filled with damp peat can be the best place to seal your seeds. Set the sealed bag inside a cold, but not freezing, fridge and remove when ready for planting.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic tray
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil, or non-toxic pen
  • Greenhouse or indoor growing area
  • Small pots (four to six inches)
  • Aquatic plant soil
  • Small bur-reed seeds
  • Cold frame


  • USDA Plant guide
  • Wildflowers and Other Plants of Iowa Wetlands; Sylvan T. Runkel, Dean M. Roosa; 1999
Keywords: bur-reed, small bur-reed, growing bur-reed

About this Author

Writing from Virginia, Margaret Telsch-Williams specializes in personal finance, money management, gardening, crafts and sewing, cooking, DIY projects and travel. When not writing instructional articles online, she works for the website Widescreen Warrior as a contributor and podcast co-host discussing all things film and entertainment. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and a master's degree in writing.