How to dry cat tails( for using in flower arrangements)

SHERRIBNC(NC/7)September 23, 2002

I would like to know when is the best time to harvest cat tails. Is there a correct way to cut them and how do you dry them or preserve them to use in flower arrangements.

I also have fox tails too. Do you have any info. on these?

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gardenz(7B)

We're in a fairly similar zone and around here, in late summer and early fall, the "heads" of the cattails in the New Jersey marshlands start to break apart and spread their seed. So, the best time to cut and harvest them would've been probably sometime in mid-summer. But, you may stll be able to locate some that haven't gone to seed yet.

Just bundle 5 or 6 together and hang them upside down in cool, dry, dark spot. You could just try standing them upright in a tall, narrow bucket of some kind and let them dry that way, too. Foxtails, I think, aren't quite as sturdy, so I'd go the "upside down to dry" route with them.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2002 at 4:34PM
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Marianne57(zone 3 Alberta)

I had an armfull of cat tails blow up in my house while I was on holidays. I almost sold my house versus trying to clean up all the fluff. I would suggest dipping the head in some type of wood sealer, like verathane, just to be safe.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2002 at 9:57AM
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chancygardener(6-NW AR)

Just spray heavily with the cheapest hairspray. (I used AquaNet, which also removes ink stains from clothing) I've done this 2 different times and they didn't blow up in the house.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2002 at 9:46PM
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Sonshinepat(6a)

I would dip them in a matte varnish. They sure are a mess when they "explode".

    Bookmark   October 11, 2002 at 5:46PM
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hotdancerchik09_hotmail_com

I am doing a biology project that involves picking and pressing wildflowers. I was reading this posting and I never knew that cat tails could explode. I was planning on cutting my cat tail that I picked, in half long ways and pressing it that way. But, I am not sure, now, if that would make the cat tail explode.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 5:26PM
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Josh(z8a)

Jenn, The cattail seedhead won't "explode" like a firecracker, shattering completely. Just the outer portion as it dries will open up and release hundreds of seeds...check the photos on site attached.

If you picked your cattail some time ago and it is fairly dry, it probably won't open further. Usually you'll notice just a few seeds before it opens entirely, then it's time to get it out of your house or get out your vacuum cleaner...the seeds are lightweight to be carried by the wind/water to new locations to start new plants...a totally benign operation unless it's in your home...LOL josh

Here is a link that might be useful: Cattail Seedhead

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 1:17AM
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oldherb(z8 Oregon)

When we lived in Idaho we would pick them just as soon as the heads were nice and brown...July or early August as I remember...then dry them and spray paint them with clear spraypaint...never had a seedy one in the bunch.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2006 at 12:19PM
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