How To Grow Equisetum Hyemale


Equisetum hyemale is commonly called scouring rush or rough horsetail. Equisetum is not a rush, fern, or reed. This horsetail is a non-flowering, rush-like, perennial, which is native to Europe, North America, and Asia, and is invasive in most places. It is very easy to grow Equisetum Hymale!

It is a single surviving genus that dates back 350 million years. Its name comes from the Latin word equus meaning “a horse” and seta meaning “a bristle.”

The stems

It occurs in wet woods, moist hillsides, and the edges of lakes, rivers, and ponds. This species has rigid, rough, hollow, jointed-and-segmented, bamboo-like, dark green stems that are about 1/2 inch in diameter at the base.

Photosynthesis happens in the stems of this plant. Fertile stems bear pine cone-like fruiting heads about 1-inch long, which contain a lot of spores.

If you live in an area that is frost-free, the evergreen stems are pretty in winter.

The stems are also high in silica and were used by early Americans for polishing pots and pans. (1)

The leaves

Tiny, scale-like leaves attached to the stem and fuse into an ash-gray sheath, which is a 1/4-inch long. The leaves end in a fringe of teeth marks at each stem node (joint). During the growing season, these teeth shed.


Grow Equisetum Hyemale

This ancient plant spreads by rhizomes (underground stem that acts like a root). It is commonly called horsetail or winter scouring rush, but there are several varieties. This particular species is one that has been used for centuries for tooth and gum care.

In your landscape

Horsetail reeds (Equisetum hyemale) is a great addition to the edges of backyard ponds and water features. The reeds thrive where soils are moist, but the plant remains above water. Depending on where you live, it can be invasive. This species of horsetail multiplies in a “thicket.”

The reeds may stay green where frost is not a concern. The reeds are typically grown only as a potted plant, because they spread quickly via underground rhizomes. It grows to a height of 2 feet to 4 feet.


Equisetum Hyemale tolerates a wide-range of moist soils It will even grow in up to 4 inches of standing water. A large colony of reeds forms in the wild. Equisetum Hyemale is a very aggressive plant, which needs to be restrained by a pot. Once established, it can be challenging to remove because the rhizomes spread wide and deep. Any small section of rhizome left behind will sprout a new plant. In water gardens, plant in pots, or it will choke out other plants.

This horsetail species likes a slightly acidic soil with a clay, loam, sand mix. It particularly likes wet sites. It is perfect for a bog garden, containers, or water gardens.


Grow Equisetum Hyemale in full sun, partial sun, or partial shade depending on your particular climate.


This species of horsetail grows well in Zones 4 through 9.

Click here to find your hardiness zone.


Indoors or outside, be sure to cut off any rhizomes growing out of the pot. This will keep the horsetail from spreading into the pond or surrounding soil.

Place the pot so the rim is above the water surface, near the edge of a pond or water feature is perfect.

Prune the dead stems after they turn brown in winter. Provide some winter interest by leaving the stems in place until new stems emerge.


Water horsetail reeds twice-a-week or more, so the soil stays moist, almost wet. Pots sitting in water need less watering. Water pond plants only if the potting soil surface looks dry.


Equisetum Hyemale does not have any serious insect or disease problems. The only problem is its very aggressive and spreading nature.


When the reed is actively growing in spring and summer or every two months, apply a fertilizer made for pond or bog plants. Follow the recommended applications on the fertilizer bag.

Here are 35 Homemade Organic Fertilizers to try!

Grow Equisetum Hyemale Indoors

Although a bog plant, horsetail reeds are low-maintenance and do well in pots on your patio, too. Plant Equisetum Hyemale in a non-perforated, 1-gallon pot with drainage holes.

Lift the pot once-a-month to examine the drainage holes. Cut back any rhizomes that are trying to escape.

Indoors, grow Equisetum Hyemale in moist soil and with a lot of light. A sunny window is perfect.

Use a potting soil that works best for bog and water garden plants. Set the pot in water that is no more than 4-inches deep.

Will you be growing Equisetum Hyemale? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.


1 Missouri Botanical Garden. []


Rate this article:


Marjory Wildcraft


Marjory Wildcraft is the founder of The [Grow] Network, which is an online community that recognizes the wisdom of "homegrown food on every table." Marjory has been featured as an expert on sustainable living by National Geographic. She is a speaker at Mother Earth News fairs and a returning guest on Coast to Coast AM. She is the author of several books, but is best-known for her "Grow Your Own Groceries" video series, which is used by more than 300,000 homesteaders, survivalists, universities, and missionary organizations around the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Marla

    First off, I want to say how much I love the garden summits, I have learned so much. Thank you for doing that. Second, I live in West Michigan and just discovered this spring that the weed I have been pulling in my front flower garden is horsetail. I’m near Lake Michigan and our soil is sandy and dry. However the horsetail grows very well here in dry sand. I am now harvesting it to make a High Calcium Tea from Rosemary Gladstar’s recipes. I dry in the dehydrator, cut, and store. I think it has a wonderful aroma once dried.

  • Tammy

    I would LOVE to grow this in my garden. I’ve had my share of dental problems and complications over the years and this would be so nice to have. Any ideas on where I can purchase a start of it? I checked with a few local nurseries here in the Dallas area and no one seems to have it.

    • Dawn

      I located a lot of horsetail growing at the river and brought home some root. Planted it in sand, watered it, and in two short weeks it was sending up large numbers of shoots. Have been drying the shoots, grinding them, and eating a heaping teaspoon each day for two weeks. Some of my cavities are looking better and some need much more time to respond. Thank you VERY much for this valuable information.
      Dawn in Colville, Washington

    • Priti

      Hi Tammy,

      I live in Dallas as well and have been looking for this species of horsetail. Even online and in stores, no one is selling the Hymale species. Let me know if you have any luck!

      • I also have been unable to find horsetail hymale species for sale at local nurseries or online. Please advise if anyone has found a source to purchase the herb for growing at home. Thanks.

  • Lora Stone

    How does Equisetum Hyemale compare to Equisetum Arvense? Do they both work as well as the other?

    • Priti

      I watched Doug Simon’s DVD called “Alternatives to Dentists” and he says that you need the hymale species. Avernase is available in abundance, so I contacted the grow network to ask, but no response. If you find something out, let me know!

  • Debbie

    Wild horsetail grows like a weed along the sides of my driveway, which runs through a wet area. It is not as large as the plant described in the article, maybe growing 6-9″ tall, but I am wondering if it can be used for the same purposes. I am slowly trying to identify and find uses for the many varieties of native plants that grow around here. It is much easier and better than destroying them as weeds and replacing them with cultivated ones.

  • Bonnie

    Echoing the posts above, Tammy, and Lora, where might we purchase starts? and how does hyemale compare to arvense? Thanks for the great post.

  • Yes! I have been searching for Equisetum Hyemale TO GROW for months now and can not find a source of it in Canada (B.C.).
    Can anyone help me here?

  • Sonya

    I really enjoyed this article thank you! I’m trying to reverse periodontal disease organically. Please explain how to use this plant, eg tea, chew n spit, swallow etc. Also what part of plant to use and how/when to harvest it. Any tips on getting rid of gum disease would be appreciated as well. My dentist suggested I rinse my mouth with diluted chlorine and told me that once you have it there is no cure. I’m sure there’s another way.

    • Darla

      Marjory has been recommending a book by Doug Simons called Alternatives to Dentists. I am sure it will have some good information on reversing gum disease. My husband had gum disease and he started using a toothpaste called thieves aromabright toothpaste marketed by young living essential oils. Over a years time it has totally reversed his. I’m sure a lot would have to do with the severity of the disease as to how long it would take, but I would check out those two things.

  • Joy

    I’m not sure why anyone with livestock would want it around, as it can be poisonous in large enough doses. While adults won’t eat it, young animals may.

  • I just bought some on EBay to plant. It arrived quickly and in great shape. I will be planting it tomorrow. Thank you for the timely article!!

  • This is the variety I am familiar with around western Washington. (Equisetum arvense)
    It resembles a bottle brush. The article by a local collage describes the native uses. I have only used it for scouring after cooking on a wood fire. It would be interesting to try drying it and maby use the powder as an abrasive additive to my baking soda/coconut oil dentifrice.

  • Victoria

    How is horsetail used to care for the teeth?

  • Tirzah

    How do you have drainage holes in a non perforated pot? (Sincere question, not trying to be a smart alec.)

    • Betsy

      Hi Tyra’s, I think what they meant is you plant in the pot with drainage holes and place that pot into another that is not perforated. So it will hold water and you can lift out the plants and trim the little roots that are trying to escape.

  • Mary McLaughlin

    How do you use the horse tail plant for dental care? The article said all about growing it but not what to do with it for your teeth.

  • Veronica Scott

    Thank you for the information on how to grow Equisetum Hyemale.

    I’m very interested and wanted to try this herb.

    Please, direction on how to use it.

  • thar

    Highly invasive. No, I will not be growing this anywhere near my yard. However, I enjoy seeing it in our local parks.

  • I have heard that horsetail tea is good for urinal tract infections. Is this so?

  • Hi,

    I purchased the “Alternative to Dentists Shipped Edition” and received several Equisetum Hyemale with it. Thanks for the wonderful items and plants. However, the Equisetum Hyemale I received were yellow and dry. Should I be able to revive them by planting to the moist potting mix? If so, how long should I wait for them to become alive/green again? Right now I planted them into one of my aquaponic systems.


  • Owen King

    I grew up in the Seattle area and horsetails were quite common but I don’t know if it is the same variety.
    Now I live in Texas and will have to give the plant a little more attention as things are a tad dryer here than Seattle.
    We did learn that horsetails were great for scrubbing pots in the Boy Scouts due to the high silicon content.

    How do you tell the difference between the varieties?

  • I ordered your dental kit before the hurricane hit. Received the DVD and mirror, comb thingy. But haven’t gotten the equisetum hyemale. Please get back with me.

  • Rachel

    Hi Marjory,
    I received your horse tail roots last Saturday and plant them according to your instruction here, but the stems have been very dry and one of them came off from the root and the other two look like it will come off soon. Will the stem grow back out or they are dead? Thanks.

    • Hi Rachel, please know that this is very normal. The plant arrives in a semi-dormant state and it’s really more the root you are concerned about than the stalks at this point. It takes about 3-4 weeks for the roots to establish and new growth to begin. In addition, the horsetail plant is actually a dry and abrasive plant by nature, so don’t be alarmed by the feel of it. 🙂 If you do feel the plant has died, send me an email at and I will happily replace it for you. 🙂

  • My horsetail bare roots came completely dried out dead. I planted just in case but they’re dead. Had they been shipped with a wet paper towel and wrapped in plastic I think they would have been fine, but they arrived shipped in paper. I’d love to get some to grow.

    • Hi Heather, thank you so much for reaching out. The plant arrives in a semi-dormant state and it’s really more the root you are concerned about than the stalks at this point. These are drought hardy plants despite their love for water, which is why we felt we could be successful in shipping them the way that we did. It takes about 3-4 weeks for the roots to establish and new growth to begin once planted in wet soil. In addition, the horsetail plant is actually a dry and abrasive plant by nature, so don’t be alarmed by the feel (or look) of it. 🙂 If you do feel the plant has died, send me an email at and I will happily replace it for you. 🙂

  • Stacey

    Very exciting news. My Equisetum hyemale plant is sprouting! One question…. How many days, weeks, months, etc before I can start harvesting? Or do I base it by size of stalk?

  • Tune Toth

    Marjory… You recommended a book Pain Free for TEETH GRINDERS – I bought the book but can’t find one thing
    about Grinding Teeth ! Where is it – Please ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *