Equisetum Hyemale: Scouring Rush Horsetail Information and Care

Scouring Rush Horsetail is a perennial with tall bamboo-like stems. Why should you consider growing it and how to care of it?

Scouring rush horsetails are perennial plants that lend interest to the winter landscape. They are tall accent plants with bamboo-like stems. A plant native to the United States, they were once used as scouring tools to clean pots and pans.

Today we’ll look at how to grow and care for this hardy plant.

General Information

Equisetum hyemale is commonly known as scouring rush or rough horsetail. It is an evergreen perennial with green stems and horizontal bands. Scouring rush horsetail grows 2 to 6 feet tall, reaching its peak height in just a few weeks. They are used as ornamental plants; they do not produce any flowers.

The name comes from the stems that resemble horses’ tails. Early Americans used the silica-rich stems to polish pots and pans, giving origin to the common term scouring rush. They are also helpful in polishing wood furniture and flooring.

Because horsetails may spread their roots under sidewalks, garden walls, and roads, they can cause damage to structures if not properly contained.

scouring rush grass in the forest

Care and Maintenance


Horsetail can be planted at any time of year; however, it is most commonly planted in the early spring. Because of its fantastic adaptability to varying light levels, this plant can thrive in any setting, from full sun to partial shade. It grows well in dry, sand-and-gravel soil with consistent moisture.


Horsetail should never be allowed to dry out, so watering it at least twice a week is good practice. This plant appreciates consistent moisture levels and can grow in standing water as deep as four inches.   

growing green rush horsetail grass


Horsetail isn’t usually pruned, but the main challenge is managing it or getting rid of it where it’s unwanted. Thick clusters can be thinned out by chopping off individual stems. The plant can be gradually eliminated by cutting the reed-like stems back to the ground as they emerge.


Horsetails, like ferns, reproduce through spores and underground rhizomes. The root clusters can be simply divided and planted elsewhere for propagation. This task is best performed in the spring. 

How to Use it in Landscapes

This full-sun plant is popular in modern landscaping because of its attractive towering stems. Gardeners can simultaneously take advantage of the plant’s ability to serve as a well-defined hedge and a specimen plant in large containers.

Horsetail is effective as a ground cover in damp, low-lying regions where most plants cannot grow. For this reason, it is often used to decorate water gardens or marshy areas.

These plants make excellent edging plants or short groundcover. They look excellent as a border plant along fences, forming a thick wall of exotic plants. For best results, place them where they receive full sun.

The scouring rush horsetail can also form tall vegetative screens and divide off areas of your yard. It should be placed away from other plants that could suffer from its aggressive growth habit, so use caution when deciding where to plant it.

a growing small bamboos in the river

Companion Plants

The scouring rush horsetail is excellent as a single accent plant. However, it also works well with companion plants such as hostas, herbs, and small shrubs. Placing them next to plants with similar growing requirements or complementing textures will provide you with a beautiful flourishing garden bed.

Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Milkweed flourishes in moist meadow locations, where scouring rush horsetail also thrives. It grows well in naturalized environments along ponds and streams, reaching heights of 5 feet and widths of 2 to 3 feet. This pollinator-friendly plant is also an important food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars.

blooming orange milkweed flower in the garden

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

The cardinal flower grows best in moist soil like swamps, marshes, streambanks, and wet open woodlands. It grows above the water surface, featuring green leaves and stunning scarlet flowers. This moisture-loving plant pairs well with milkweed, horsetails, irises, and others.

beautiful red cardinal flowers in the backyard
Jeffrey Douglas
Jeffrey Douglas own a landscaping company and has been in the business for over 20 years. He loves all things related to lawns or gardens and believes that proper maintenance is the key to preventing problems in the first place.
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