Does anyone know how to preserve cattails so they last longer? Thank you.
By Jane Rader from Otis, OR
Pick them before they reach the bursting stage. Then put them to one side until they dry and then spray with a hair lacquer or clear shellac.
I also use the hairspray on the plumy grasses to keep them from blowing away. They hold up fairly well, except you cannot dust them.
Preserving cattails for longterm use is not complicated as others have posted. However, whether or not they fall out depends on when you pick them: in the gardening zone I live in (East Tennessee) they must be picked before the end of July or they will ripen and the seeds will burst out. I prefer the thin green ones and they must be picked by early summer. If sprayed with lacquer they will last indefinitely.
Hair spray is good enough and less expensive, since they get dusty (and probably have dust mites and germs inside) and for allergies sake should be thrown out eventually.
Warning: some wetlands in parks and other areas are protected areas and you cannot pick them there - it's illegal. Anyway, it's safer to pick them next to a road right of way because there are fewer snakes, etc.
I have used a flat laquer for years to preserve the cattails and the leaves. That way they can be dusted. Hair spray works well to keep the cattails intact however, they cannot be dusted.
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You mention preserving or drying wild plants. I am interested in how to preserve cattails to keep them from "bursting".