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Late Summer Cattail and Emergent Vegetation Control for Ponds

Have the cattails in your pond taken over your favorite fishing spot or crowded you from one side of the dock or swimming area?  

Late summer or early fall is the best time to kill Lotus lily, cattails and other emergent plants. Spraying herbicides this time of year will kill the entire plant and it will not regrow next spring.
Starting in late summer, these plants move food to their roots for winter survival, making systemic herbicides most effective.  The most common active ingredient to use is glyphosate (a few brand names include Rodeo, Touchdown Pro, Aquamaster, Shore Klear, Aqua Pro and Aqua Neat). 

Spray the above-water portion of the plant until just wet and follow other instructions on the product label.

Most, but not all, of these herbicides need a surfactant or spreader-sticker added to the mix to help it stick to the plant’s leaves.  Read the label and consult with your local or online retailer for selection of a surfactant that can be used in ponds.  

The amount of active ingredient, need for a surfactant and size of the container should be considered when comparing product brands.  A product with a higher amount of active ingredient or one that does not need a surfactant added may provide a better value.  The convenience of a ready-to-use (RTU) product that does not require mixing or adding a surfactant may override price considerations.  

Be careful to: 

  • Always read and follow the product label for application instructions and precautions.
  • Do not accidentally spray trees or other plants valuable to landscaping – Spray when calm, or when winds are low and out of a favorable direction.  Increase droplet size of the spray to reduce drift.  
  • Obey State law.  Shoreline owners on public waters may not use herbicides to control aquatic vegetation of any kind.  Contact a DNR office near you for rules and instructions regarding removing vegetation from public waters.

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