How to Trim a Horsetail Plant

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Things You'll Need

  • Secateurs

  • Long-blade pruning shears

  • Electric hedge trimmer

  • Mower


Never allow horsetail to grow in areas or pastures where animals such as horses, cows or sheep are because the plant is poisonous to them.

A stand of horsetail can be used as a foundation planting.

Horsetail is a is genus of prehistoric rhizomatous forbs or grass plants known botanically as Equisetum. According to the USDA, there are more than 18 species and cultivars of the plant. While horsetail is cultivated and grown as an ornamental landscape plant by some, it is considered to be invasive and noxious weed by others. The plants can be annuals or perennials and are deep-rooted and persistent growers. Pruning is to control size and form as desired.

Step 1

Prune down any dead, damaged, bent or listing stalks individually with secateurs. Sever the problem tissues down to the soil line and pull all of the cuttings from the stand, chipping and composting or discarding them.

Step 2

Mow or shear the plant down to the crown or soil line in the late winter or early spring to rejuvenate the plant and make its size and regrowth form more dense and compact. Long-blade pruning shears or hedge trimmers are most efficient for large or dense stands.

Step 3

Shear the terminal tips of the plant into a level line to create a tailored and modern hedge or linear shrub form. Reduce the height as desired but remove no more than one-third of the plant height in any pruning session to limit stress on the plant. Long-blade scissor shears or electric hedge trimmers are ideal for this work.

Step 4

Harvest stalks of horsetail when at their peak beauty for use as an accent or as filler greens in cut flower arrangements. Sever the individual stems all the way down at the soil line and pull them cleanly from the plant. When harvesting large amounts, pull from the plant evenly to preserve the natural form and prevent noticeable bare patches or holes.


D.C. Winston

A communications professional, D.C. Winston has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals and film/broadcast media. Winston studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.