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How to Plant Cattail Seeds

By Melissa Lewis ; Updated September 21, 2017

Cattails, also known as bulrushes and flags, can be used as several different food alternatives. For instance, their young stalks taste like cucumbers and can be pickled to taste like pickles or steamed to taste like cabbage. In addition, their rhizomes (root balls) can be roasted like potatoes and their pollen can be used to make flour. They also are planted for aesthetic reasons to add interest to any lawn or garden. Whatever your purpose, cattail seeds can be planted outdoors or in greenhouses.

Collect your cattail seeds in late spring, just after the flowers open and begin to reveal the seeds. Collect before they dry up and blow away. Strip the seed heads off with your hands. You can use clippers to cut the stem just below seed heads and do this later, if desired. If applicable, always get permission from landowners before collecting the seeds.

Store the seeds in a brown bag or burlap sack to dry. Keep them there until early fall.

Clean the cattail seeds in a seed cleaner. If you don't have access to a seed cleaner, separate the seeds from any remaining parts of the plants as best as you can.

Plant cattail seeds in the early fall in a weed-free area. The soil should be moist. Spread the seeds liberally and rake them into the soil so that they are about ¼ to ½ inch deep. Keep the soil moist for at least three months.

Plant seeds in a greenhouse as an alternative to planting directly outdoors. Plant cattail seeds ½ inch below all purpose potting soil in two-inch deep trays. Keep the soil moist. They will germinate in a couple of weeks. Transplant outdoors in about three months, by November at the very latest.


Things You Will Need

  • Seed cleaner
  • Garden rake
  • Seed trays
  • Potting soil

About the Author


Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.