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Horsetail decoction: effect, preparation and use in the garden

03.08.2022  /  Reading time: 8 minutes

For many gardeners, horsetail is an annoying weed. However, the plant has many valuable ingredients that make it a valuable medicinal plant. Not only is it beneficial for humans, it can also strengthen your plants in the bed and protect them naturally from diseases and so-called pests. Horsetail broth is also a good fertilizer for your plants. Instead of fighting horsetail, you can make horsetail broth or tea from it. In this article, you can find out how works and how to use the brew in the garden.

This article contains:

  1. Effect of field horsetail
  2. Prevent pests & diseases with horsetail broth
  3. Make your own horsetail spray: It's that simple
  4. Shelf life of horsetail broth
  5. Horsetail decoction/tea: use in the garden
  6. Horsetail as a fertilizer
  7. Frequently asked questions about horsetail decoction

Quick Overview

Effect of field horsetail

  • Used to strengthen plants against pests and diseases, especially fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and sucking insects
  • has a positive effect on plants, mainly due to its high silica content (silica strengthens cell tissue)
  • Preventive effect and only has a limited effect in the event of an infestation

Making horsetail top dressing

  • Collect 100 - 150 g of fresh or 30 - 50 g of dried above-ground plant parts per liter of water
  • Chop up the plant parts and soak in water; simmer for another 15 - 30 minutes after 1-3 days; strain
  • If you need it quickly, you can also make horsetail tea: simply pour hot water over it and leave to infuse for 15 to 20 minutes; strain
  • Application: spray undiluted or diluted with rainwater every 2 to 3 weeks; if there is an infestation, spray several times a day for several days in a row

Effect of field horsetail

Field horsetail(Equisetum arvense L.) is a subspecies of the horsetail family(Equisetaceae). The herb is known by many names: Horsetail, field horsetail, horsetail-grass, cat's-tail, shank hay, panhandle and scabious. Horsetail is the most common type of horsetail in Germany and can be found in many gardens. This makes it all the more practical that it has many valuable ingredients such as silicic acid, saponins and nutrients such as potassium, magnesium and calcium. You can dissolve these ingredients in a decoction, broth or tea and use their effects in your garden.

Field horsetail
Young horsetail initially resembles a mushroom. Only with age do you increasingly recognize the horsetail. Its appearance makes it easy for you to recognize horsetail. Picture by Andreas on Pixabay

Prevent pests & diseases with horsetail broth

Horsetail decoction or tea is mainly used by gardeners to strengthen plants against pests and thus as preventive plant protection. When extracted with water, mainly silicic acid dissolves in the water. The silicic acid is mainly responsible for the effect of the shaft neck broth. This acid strengthens the cell tissue of the plants, making it more difficult for pathogens and diseases to infect the plants. Horsetail broth can help prevent fungal diseases and sucking pests such as aphids in particular.

Horsetail helps with these diseases & pests:

  • Powdery and downy mildew
  • Gray mold
  • Star sooty mold
  • Scab
  • Curl disease
  • Late blight and brown rot
  • Rust fungi
  • Monilia diseases such as Monilia tip drought or Monilia fruit rot
  • Leaf spot diseases such as dry spot disease, leaf blight or white spot disease
  • Red spider mite
  • mites
  • Leek moth
  • Aphids

Powdery mildew on tomato leaves
Horsetail decoction helps to prevent fungal diseases such as powdery mildew.

The effect of such plant extracts and also of slurries is generally still controversial and should always be accompanied by additional crop protection measures (pheromone traps, glue rings, money boards, etc.). Especially when plants are already diseased, horsetail broth is only of limited help. However, if you recognize the infestation or disease early and act immediately, you may still be able to save diseased plants! Unfortunately, there is no guarantee.

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Make your own horsetail spray: It's that simple

What you need:

  • 100 - 150 g fresh or 30 - 50 g dried horsetail
  • 1 liter of water
  • saucepan
  • sieve
  • optional: cotton cloth

Tip: Horsetail likes to grow and thrive on damp forest or meadow edges and can also be found in many gardens.

Instructions for horsetail broth:

  • Collect the green above-ground parts of the horsetail. Harvest the stems by the end of July to use them fresh or to dry them, as the silica content decreases when they become woody.
  • Horsetail decoction: Chop up the plant parts and soak them in water for 1 - 3 days. Then boil for another 15 to 30 minutes. Then sieve out the plant parts and leave the brew to cool.
  • Horsetail tea: If you're in a hurry, you can also simply brew the horsetail as a tea and leave to infuse for 15 to 20 minutes. Then strain, leave to cool and you're done.
  • If you want to apply horsetail broth as a spray with a sprayer, you should sieve it through a cotton diaper beforehand. Otherwise the glands could become clogged with small plant parts.

If you don't have time to make your own horsetail extract, you can find it in organic quality in our Fryd store! Here you will also find numerous other plant extracts, such as nettle, which strengthen your plants and can be used as organic fertilizer!

Snail sitting in field horsetail in the forest.
Horsetail is rich in silicic acid, which strengthens plants and makes them more resistant to diseases and pests.

Shelf life of horsetail broth

A decoction or tea of horsetail has a limited shelf life and should always be made fresh when needed. You can store the decoction/tea in a closed container for a few days, but then it will start to ferment at some point. This is not so tragic, because then you can simply use the product as a slurry. Due to the fermentation, the liquid manure also contains many microbes that revitalize the soil and thus indirectly improve the availability of nutrients in the soil. Plant liquid manure is therefore generally better suited as a fertilizer than a broth!

Horsetail decoction/tea: use in the garden

Ackerschachtelhalm-Sud Ackerschachtelhalm-Tee
unverdünnt oder mit Regenwasser in einem Verhältnis von 1:5 verdünnt zur Schädlingsabwehr und Bodenpflege mit Regenwasser in einem Verhältnis von 1:10 - 1:20 verdünnt als vorbeugenden Pflanzenschutz und Blattdüngung

Tips for use as a spraying agent:

  • As a plant strengthener for preventive plant protection against pests: repeat application every 2 to 3 weeks, as horsetail decoction mainly has a preventive effect (especially against fungi and sucking pests such as aphids)
  • In case of a light infestation: remove diseased plant parts and dispose of in the household waste; treat the plant several times a day for several days in a row
  • Is mainly sprayed on the above-ground parts of the plant(foliar spraying); if necessary also on the soil (as fertilizer)
  • Spray inthe morning in sunny weather without rain, otherwise the decoction or tea may be washed away by the rain (if necessary, spray horsetail extract again after rain)

Horsetail as a fertilizer

Horsetail teas and decoctions are mainly used as foliar sprays to strengthen plants. A horsetail slurry is more suitable for fertilizing with horsetail. This is because a slurry dissolves more of the ingredients, especially nutrients! You can find out how to make and use a plant slurry in our article using the example of a nettle slurry.

You can find more tips on using plant teas and de coctions in the article on plant tonics. In addition to organic plant tonics such as plant juices, teas and decoctions, this also covers inorganic agents such as rock flour. You can also make your own extract from compost or humus. You can find instructions for compost tea in the article on this topic.

If you have any questions or comments, please write to us at [email protected].

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Cover picture by Andreas on Pixabay

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Marie studied agricultural science at the University of Hohenheim. Her main focus is on ecological agriculture and permaculture. She writes articles for Fryd to educate people about ecological interrelationships and alternatives to current land use. Our current economic systems, especially in agriculture, have numerous negative effects on nature and destabilize our ecosystems. We need a great diversity in our gardens and beds again to counteract the extinction of species. Every gardener can contribute to creating and maintaining habitats and food for a wide variety of creatures. With her articles, she would like to pass on her experience in dealing with natural systems and give people the opportunity to contribute to a stable ecosystem and thus also to securing our livelihood.

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It strengthens plants against pests and diseases, especially fungal diseases, and promotes resistance through silicic acid.

You need 100-150g of fresh or 30-50g of dried horsetail per liter of water, which is soaked and then boiled.

Spray undiluted or diluted, every 2 to 3 weeks or more frequently if infested. Read more in the article.

A decoction has a limited shelf life and is best used fresh. A slurry has a longer shelf life.

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