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I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do?

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do?
Kandy – Portland, OR

Phragmites are the worst kind of uninvited guest: once it makes its appearance, it’s too late to give it the slip. For those who have experienced phragmites, they’ll attest to its tenacity. They’ll also attest to its heartiness. Unlike the plants you’re actually trying to grow in your pond, phragmites requires no care and feeding at all – and it’s remarkably adept at withstanding any effort to slow it down. .

Characterized by a green stalk with purple/tan plumes in late July, the majority of each phragmites plant is underground. As a result, by the time you actually see a phragmites plant in your pond, its root system is well established – laying the groundwork to take over the entire body of water. In fact, phragmites plants continue to spread throughout their life, sending stalks skyward at a blistering pace. And once the stalks reach maturity – typically from early to late summer – the plants double their efforts at pond domination by distributing seeds throughout the watershed. Phragmites, it seems, is quite capable at taking care of itself.

When taken alone, phragmites might actually be considered attractive. Unfortunately, it has no interest in sharing its turf. Through its aggressive growth, phragmites chokes out native plant species in short order, and can transform an entire pond’s flora over the course of a single season. And while it’s nearly impossible to eliminate phragmites once it’s established, our Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS Combo – carefully and regularly applied with our Specialty Pond Sprayer– can significantly impair root system growth, while leaving room for the plants you’d like to keep around.

After herbicides are applied, many pond owners are eager to eliminate both existing growth and dead stalks left over from the previous season. Our Aquactic Weed Cutter makes short work of offending plants. Once the cutting is done, our Pond & Beach Rake helps to remove mess. In some instances, pond users also use controlled burns – after herbicide application – to remove standing plants. While this can be effective, it should never be practiced apart from herbicide use. Some evidence suggests that burning alone – without the use of herbicides – can actually increase the density of phragmites plants.

Good luck with your battle against phragmites. Stay vigilant, stay focused, and act quickly to curb new growth. The fight may last a long time – but the results will be worth the effort.

Pond Talk: Have you battled phragmites in your pond?

One Response

  1. Kandy

    As a boy I trapped muskrats in the New Jersey Meadowlands at time when it was predominately cattails. Slowly but surely the phragmites have crowded them out. On moving in later years to South Jersey I found them growing along 400 feet on my marsh frontage so I did what the State was doing to eradicate phragmites along road sides and in marshes: that is to spot spray them with a strong (brush killer) herbicide, taking care not to spray desirable marsh grasses or cattails. Within one year I was rid of half of them, the following year down to a few, now I spot spray the one or two that pop up from wind bourne seeds. So now my marsh line is a panorama of various types of marsh grass, with nary a phragmite.

    Taken from my WordPress site http://bedtimestuff.wordpress.com/


    Frag-mahy-teez: that encroaching weed—
    along marshes where mosquitoes breed.
    Standing erect in the breeze—
    waving and nodding to passers by.
    Or saluting Caesar—lances held high.

    Unabashedly spreading by root and by seed;
    as cockroaches and carpetbaggers of similar deed;
    melding a view into monotony.
    Extinguishing marsh grass and cattails in its wake.
    It must be stopped for goodness sake.

    Perhaps its being is to exemplify sin;
    that, when given a foothold, strives to win.
    If so, it serves its purpose well.
    But, if not, and simply just one of many weeds—
    it is one of God’s questionable deeds.

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