Dandelions may appear like any normally growing sidewalk plant, but do you know they are an invasive species in many states?
But, Dandelions can benefit your garden if you understand the correct growing ways and find non-invasive locations to plant them.
Learn from the article below and clear your doubts!
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Are Dandelions Invasive?
All Dandelions are members of the Asteraceae family, with bright and colorful flower heads.
Common Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale), with familiar bright yellow flower heads (capitulum), is invasive in North America and some territories of Asia and Africa. But they are native to Europe and a few parts of Asia.
Further, Dandelions were first introduced from Europe on Mayflower (English Ship) in North America as a medicinal plant for treating skin, liver, and gut disorders.
Despite their benefits and non-toxic to pets, they are considered an aggressive perennial invasive weed, raiding barren habitats.
Dandelions are invasive because of their seed production ability, seed dispersal mechanism (anemochory), competitiveness, and limited seed dormancy periods.
Additionally, Dandelions bloom from mid-spring to early summer (April to June) and are ready to set seeds within 9-15 days after flowering.
Are Dandelions Invasive In All States?
Their seeds are capped by a feathery pappus, allowing them to travel long distances and parachute into new habitats in the air.
Due to the cosmopolitan seed dispersal mechanisms, Dandelions grow in almost all states except New Mexico.
However, Dandelions are only invasive in Alaska and Oregon, with a low risk to the native plant communities in other states.
Check out this video to learn about the seed dispersal method of Dandelions.
Are Dandelions Good or Bad For The Yard?
People instantly uproot Dandelions away, but you may think twice before killing them because of their advantages.
Some good deeds of Dandelions in your lawn include the following.
- Dandelion flowers are a valuable nectar food source for native pollinators (bees and butterflies).
- Strong taproots of Dandelions break the hardpan soil layers facilitating a porous soil texture.
- Dandelions can extract calcium from deep soil layers using their roots and regurgitate it to the soil surface, making it available to other plants.
- Their hairy taproots grasp and clump the soil particles together, preventing erosion.
Dandelions act as an indicator of compacted and poor soil low in calcium.
Also, you should not mow Dandelions once they form seed heads, as mowing may rattle them, promoting seed dispersal.
In a sense, Dandelions can indirectly assist the growth of other plants while also aiding the ecosystem to a certain extent.
However, Dandelions overpopulate your garden due to their rapid growth rate. Hence, you can plan a strategy to hold their population.
How Do I Fix My Lawn Full Of Dandelions?
An individual Dandelion plant can easily live for 10-13 years and produce many seeds throughout its lifetime.
Hence, they can disperse and invade faraway lands, but you can control their foray in 2 ways.
1. Preventing Invasive Dandelions In Your Yard or Lawn
Preventing the invasion of Dandelions means closing your garden gates for these intrusive plants before they enter.
Hence, it is a way to control the germination of Dandelion seeds or their entry into your garden.
- Apply pre-emergent herbicides in late winter to prevent the spread of Dandelion seeds before they germinate.
- Dandelion seeds can stay and germinate from 1 inch below the soil surface. So, prevent soil tilling to keep their seedbanks in check.
Lure Goldfinch and House Sparrow populations in your garden as they naturally eat Dandelion seeds.
- Carefully deadhead and burn the Dandelion seed heads to prevent their outbreaks.
- Try planting tall competitive native grasses, like Gamagrasses, Saltgrass, Blue Gramagrass, and Wheatgrass, in early spring to prevent the growth of Dandelions.
- Place mulch over the soil to prevent the germination of settled Dandelion seeds.
- Keep the soil pH slightly neutral to basic, as Dandelions thrive in acidic soil (pH 4-8).
2. Managing Invasive Dandelions In Your Yard or Lawn
There are 3 ways to manage the existing population of Dandelions in your garden; mechanical, cultural, and chemical.
- Uproot, chop, bury, or burn the Dandelion taproots to control the weed.
- Deadhead the developing Dandelion flowers before they convert into seed heads.
- Dandelions require full sunlight, so cover their population patch with an opaque cloth to cut off the light supply.
- Employ crop rotation techniques using other native perennial varieties.
- Utilize fall applications of Isoxaben or Dithiopyr herbicide to prevent the growth of Dandelions.
From Editorial Team
Dandelions are invasive weeds with glorified seed production capacity. They usually don’t harm the ecosystem and invade undisturbed sites.
However, to keep them out of your vegetable, fruit, or garden patches, always keep your keen eye to look for them during mid-spring to early summer.