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When fighting dandelions in a lawn, I know it is common practice to dead-head the yellow flowers before they morph into the pappus stage with the feathery seeds, but will the seeds in the yellow flowers germinate if left in the lawn?

A neighbor told me that they will, but I question it. Are the seeds fertile/mature at that point? Once the yellow flowers are plucked from the plant, can they still mature while on the ground? I can not find info on this anywhere on the interwebs.

  • Doesn't dead-heading just increase the size of the root? It may prevent spreading, but I'd think it'd be best to pull the entire weed if you can. – DA. May 3 '13 at 18:17
  • I use chemical treatment, but I was plucking the flowers off as well. – Evil Elf May 3 '13 at 18:52
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    Follow up: I took some dead headed flowers of different ages/ripeness and seeded them in some soil. Nothing germinated whatsoever. I call the myth busted personally. – Evil Elf Feb 11 '15 at 18:56
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At the old house I would often pull the flower heads (technically not dead-heading, as they were in full bloom) and the buds when I saw them. I would discard on the lawn. If the flower heads had (or could develop) seeds in that form, then I think I would have had an explosion of dandelions! As it was, I was able to keep them in check with just a few which I assume floated in from elsewhere.

When we moved in, the lawn was covered with them, but a treatment of feed&weed fixed that. About the only thing it killed, and it was something we quickly stopped doing. Much better to mulch and spot treat weeds, if you can.

  • using granule weed and feed is tough, even if you perform the spreading with dew on the lawn. Most brands that you hook up to the hose are not very good at all, but the Ortho WeedBGone is amazing stuff in my opinion. – Evil Elf May 3 '13 at 16:50
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Yes, dandelions are the only flower I know of that will develop seed after they are picked. I generally pick my dandies into a large plastic pail, and when I let the pail sit for several days and then check it, some (not all) of the flowers will develop into seedheads. It may have to do with what stage you pick them at, but I am not sure what exactly was the difference between the ones that continued to develop and the ones that did not. To be safe, I would remove them from the lawn rather than letting them compost in place.

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Of course you can. But they are dangerous for the lawn, because they are perennial and very invasive. The plant consists of a tuft of leaves alway wider, covering the grass and cause it to die. In addition it has a long taproot, quite deep. If you decide you no longer want dandelions in your lawn, you will need to dig a long time to remove them all. Do not leave even a small piece of the root, which would give new shoots.

On the other hand, they are edible and also very good, good to purify the body. You have to collect the young leaves, just after winter and before they bloom, with a pointed knife that cuts the base (also the root is edible and very good).

If they are very young you can eat as a salad, pleasantly bitter, seasoned with salt and fried bacon cubes. Less young, theyhave to be cooked. It belongs to the group of the bitter herbs very beneficial for the body.

  • This is how my grandmother always served them, violadaprile. :) I disliked it when I was little (especially when we found a stray ant or little worm in the salad - lol!), but now subject my children to it on occasion because, as you've mentioned, it is very healthy. Plus, it reminds me of gramm. ;) – michelle May 3 '13 at 17:14
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I deadheaded the dandelions in my lawn a couple of years ago, tossing the yellow flowers into the grass. Much to my surprise, and chagrin, I later found that many of them had continued to develop into the seed stage, despite being plucked. Now I gather them up into a little cup and throw them in the trash.

Can anyone recommend a good tool for digging up dandelions?

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