Everyone likes finding big catfish in their ponds, but cattails, not so much.
A small area of cattails can be visually pleasing, as well as provide fish and wildlife habitat. However, cattails rapidly spread via seeds and roots. In just a short amount of time, without management, cattails take over large, shallow shorelines and consume entire ponds.
In Oklahoma, it is not unusual to see ponds that are completely surrounded by cattails. This ruins the pond’s visual and recreational benefits.
“You need to take action early to help control the spread of this plant,” said Marley Beem, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension aquaculture specialist. “Don’t let it get out of hand, because once it totally rings a pond and you have a wide band of it to where you can’t see the water, you’re facing a major application problem.”
If the covered area is small enough, it is practical to do a little mechanical control by cutting down the stand and letting it regrow. Then, by cutting the regrowth, the tubers may be depleted, providing practical control on a small scale.
For bigger problems, Beem suggests using aquatic herbicides.
“Some people are very concerned about using herbicides, but if you use one that is labeled for aquatic sites, it has been tested and approved as safe, if applied by the label directions,” he said. “Do not use herbicides that have not been labeled safe for aquatic use.”