Dandelion: America’s toughest, most invasive weed
Characteristics of Dandelions
The dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is North America’s most familiar weed. Dandelions are a particular nuisance in lawns, but they also appear in garden beds. The dark green, jagged-edged leaves are arranged in circular rosettes. Stems rise from the rosettes, topped with bright yellow, daisy-shaped flowers that open in mid-spring. Dandelions quickly give way to puffy, white seed heads. Each seed, equipped with its own parachute, will fly with the wind.
Dandelion seeds germinate eagerly and take little time to get a foothold. They bloom for most of the season and survive winter throughout most of North America. That makes them a dual-pronged nuisance. Dandelions have deep taproots that sprout new leaves when the entire root isn’t removed or killed. When damaged, all parts of the plant seep a milky sap.
Getting Rid of Dandelions
The first step in getting rid of dandelions is removing the existing weeds, ideally before they have a chance to bloom and set seed. Existing dandelions can be hand-pulled, but only ripping off the leaves will allow a dandelion plant to re-grow. It is best to use a sharp, long-handled tool that lifts the entire root system out intact. Most broadleaf weed killers are effective at killing lawn dandelions. Preen Lawn Weed Control for example, kills dandelions without harming grass.
Mulching flower gardens with Preen Mulch Plus offers season-long protection from new dandelions. Organic Preen Vegetable Garden Weed Preventer is an effective dandelion preventer, and can be used around vegetables, flowers and shrubs. Always read and follow the label directions.