Staring into the Face of a Lion: Dealing with Dandelions

The Dandelion

(Taraxacum officinale)

You know this pretty little face don't you? Staring up at you with it's bright golden feathery petals gleaming in the sun. It is a pretty little flower in it's own way. Almost...dandy. But its pretty exterior hides how fierce this weed really is. It spreads fast if not contained.

This little flower from the Asteraceae family will spread like wildfire among the soft green blades of your luscious lawn. It is a difficult plant to fight. Sure you can use chemicals on it, but there are other ways of fighting the dandelions.

I've used boiling water on individual weeds and it works great. The only drawback is that you can only bring a little with you at a time then you have to go boil some more. If you have a teapot you have a ready made weed killing machine. Just boil your water and pour it over the base of the weeds that are bothering you. It may take a couple treatments to kill the weed but the advantage is that no chemicals are being used.

Another option would be to use a high concentration of vinegar. It will raise the acidity of the soil so be careful that you don't over do it.

One other way would be to physically remove the diabolical dandelion from the ground. This may require some digging since the dandelion is very attached to its home. Dandelions send down a deep taproot that can be hard to remove. If you leave even a small amount of the tap root it will regrow to haunt you another day. That's why I like the boiling water method. The water gets down to the taproot and you don't have to dig!

In the above picture you can see the dandelion about to break into it's seed distribution mode. If you see a dandelion in this stage or earlier and don't want more of them then pluck it and dispose of it. Also the more flowers you remove from the dandelion the more energy it wastes producing more seed which eventually may extinguish the plant.

When they get to this stage you can expect to see more in your future. The seeds have little cotton like hairy appendages called pappus that will catch the wind (or a child blowing them) to help the seeds travel to a new home. The good news is that many of its parts are edible. The new growth of the foliage can be eaten in salads and some people make Dandelion wine from the flowers. Perhaps the most organic way to get rid of dandelions would be to eat them out of your garden!