How to Preserve Cattails for Fall Floral Arrangements

2 Materials
1 Hour

Sure, you can buy artificial cattails, but I've never found any that looks as good as the real thing. You can easily find cattails growing in ditches or near ponds.

If you have access to any real ones, preserving them is easy, and you can use them time and time again to make beautiful fall floral arrangements.

We cut the cattails from the edge of the water on our property, and the dried wheat was only $2.99 at Trader Joe’s! The rest of the flowers and embellishments came from Hobby Lobby.

Trader Joe’s has great items for fall flower arrangements right now!

I added another string of fairy lights on a timer to this arrangement, too. When the overhead lights are off, and both sets of fairy lights come on, the front entryway has such a beautiful, warm glow.

Be sure to choose cattails that are brown and beginning to dry, but that have not started to split open and expose the fuzzy interiors.

To preserve my cattails, I first cut the stems to the height that I wanted using my garden clippers. (See how the stems are mostly brown and dried? That's what you want.)

Then, I sprayed the cattails on all sides, including all the way down the stalks. I gave them all an even coat, being careful not to over-saturate them. I used Rust-oleum clear matte spray paint, but any clear spray paint will do.

I happened to have this plant stand to hold them upright while they dried for about an hour. Then I gave them a second coat. The spray paint should keep them from breaking open and spreading fuzz in the house.

After they were completely dried, they were ready to be used in my arrangement!

That's it! Easy, cheap, and with beautiful results!

You can see my whole f ront entryway for fall HERE, and my fall front porch HERE.

-Niky @ The House on Silverado

Suggested materials:

  • Real cattails   (my yard)
  • Clear spray paint   (Amazon)

Niky | The House on Silverado
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

  2 questions
  • Ann Ann on Sep 28, 2021

    I have used real cat tails in the past. I sprayed them with the cheapest hairspray that I could find…at the time Aquanet was 99¢. They lasted and didn’t explode into fluff. Hairspray is way cheaper than polyurethane, I think?

  • Tana Boag-Dinning Tana Boag-Dinning on Sep 29, 2021

    What spray did you use? You didn’t say.


Join the conversation

2 of 7 comments
  • Denise Denise on Oct 21, 2021

    That looks lovely. We have a long waterway locally with loads of bullrushes, guess I'll be stopping off there soon :)

  • Kay Beckett Kay Beckett on Oct 23, 2021

    If you cut them just before July they won’t explode. After the beginning of July, they start going to seed and will explode. Came from NY and that’s the case there.