How to Grow Equisetum

Written by anastasia leon
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How to Grow Equisetum
Equisetum plants grow best in moist environments. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Equisetum is a large genus of moisture-loving plants commonly referred to as horsetails. They range in size from 7 inches to 15 feet in height and appear as cylindrical, bright-green stems with pronounced segmentation along the entire length. Many species of Equisetum feature brushy foliage along the upper half of their stems, whereas others are smooth over their entire length. Many gardeners grow Equisetum plants along garden ponds and in terrariums due to their love of moisture, however precautions must be taken when cultivating Equisetum plants to keep them from becoming invasive.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Trowel
  • Garden knife
  • Bucket
  • Peat moss
  • Sand
  • Potting soil
  • 2-gallon nursery pot
  • Garden hose with adjustable nozzle

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  1. 1

    Divide a healthy, well-established Equisetum plant in autumn or early spring. Remove it from its pot, or dig a 1-cubic-foot portion from the ground. Wear gloves when handling Equisetum since many species are irritating to the skin.

  2. 2

    Insert a garden trowel through the centre of the root ball and gently pry it in half. Divide the halves into quarters using a gardening knife to saw through the rhizomes and filament roots. Place the Equisetum divisions in a bucket of water until the planting pots are prepared.

  3. 3

    Combine equal parts milled peat moss, sand and potting soil to create a moisture retentive, low-nutrient soil suited to growing Equisetum. Mix the components well.

  4. 4

    Fill the bottom one-third of a 2-gallon nursery pot with the soil mixture. Nestle an Equisetum division into the centre of the soil mixture and fill in around it with more soil. Water it to a depth of 7 inches using a garden hose with a nozzle set to soak. Add more soil, as needed, until the pot is filled to 1 inch below the edge.

  5. 5

    Place the pots of Equisetum in a shaded area away from direct sunlight for two weeks. Slowly acclimate the plants to stronger sunlight over the course of ten days until they can stand partial sun. Continue watering the plants to a depth of 7 inches every 10 days to prevent the soil from drying out.

  6. 6

    Move the plants to a greenhouse or screened-in porch if temperatures dip below -1.11 degrees Celsius for long periods of time.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not collect Equisetum plants from the wild since some species are protected.
  • Do not plant Equisetum in the ground; it will become invasive.

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