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Scene From the Street: a Zen-like beast plotting to take over the yard

InvasiveWalking through neighborhoods is so enlightening. You get to check out house colors you’re considering, or decorative stone faces, or architectural details.

You can also see the real life of plants, far from the dreams and fantasies you harbor at the nursery, far from the lovely images of well-tended gardens in designer books and magazines.

You get to see what happens to plants that are not taken care of.

A case in point is Equisetum, the delightful California native commonly called horsetail (pictured above in two SoCal yards). It’s characterized by slender, hollow, leafless reeds with ringed joints. It looks exotic, hardy and Zen-like.

You can imagine an innocent soul at the nursery, taken in by this plant’s allure, handing over a few bucks in a moment that could well become a long battle for control of the yard.

This plant has a creeping root system that can, as you see from the photo on the right, invade places you never wanted it to go. And its aggressive nature can choke out everything else in sight.

On the Garden Web forum, comments like this should be fair warning:

Giant horsetails, the thugs, on steroids? Be mighty careful where and how you plant them, & let us know if your house disappears (LOL)

I’m no garden expert, but I’ve heard this advice on horsetail enough times to repeat it here: Confine this beast to a pot. Or else, prepare for battle.

2 Comments on Scene From the Street: a Zen-like beast plotting to take over the yard

  1. GardenGirl // March 17, 2008 at 9:40 am // Reply

    The best way to control water-loving plants is to be stingy with water. Use a drip system that delivers just the barest amount of water necessary for the plant to live.
    Don’t water beyond its root system – it won’t easily grow into dry soil.
    Really, this isn’t so hard, unless you haven’t learned how to restrain yourself from watering everything all the time.

  2. Inland Empire // March 18, 2008 at 2:05 pm // Reply

    I love these plants but anything looks ratty when its overgrown.

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