When dandelions go to seed, they seem to wither. It looks like they die, but do they really? Are dandelions that have gone to seed really dead, or will they spring up from the soil again in the spring?
Dandelions don’t die after seeding. They’re perennial plants, meaning they don’t die after seeding but regrow from their roots after their growing season instead. This means that if you don’t kill dandelions’ roots, they’ll continue to regrow forever.
In this article, I’ll go over the dandelion’s life cycle, why they grow back, and how to prevent them from spreading. I’ll also talk about perennial plants, what they are, whether they’re all weeds, and how to remove them. If this sounds interesting, read on.
The Life Cycle of Dandelions
A dandelion starts its life as a single seed with a fluffy white head. Blown on the wind from another location, it lands and remains in the soil until there’s enough moisture. Once the conditions are right, it germinates, sprouts, and grows leaves that push above the ground in search of sunlight.
It stays in this leafy state until it has amassed enough energy and food through photosynthesis. Then, it grows into a bright yellow flower. This is how most people picture dandelions, and it’s the best time to get rid of them if you don’t like them, too. Once they go to seed, it’s hard to keep them from spreading.
The dandelion’s yellow flower remains until bees and other insects have pollinated it. Then, it turns into a seed head, creating seeds with fluffy white tops. A single dandelion can create up to 100 new seeds, so it’s important to deal with them before they reach this level of maturity. If you don’t, you may kill this dandelion, but find many others nearby next year.
When the seeds on the dandelion’s head are mature enough, they begin to loosen. The wind pulls them free and blows them away, and the cycle begins again in many new locations.
Why Dandelions Grow Back
You may wonder why dandelions grow fast and are so stubborn, and why it’s important to dispose of them when they’re flowering before they begin producing seeds.
Dandelions grow back because they are perennial plants. Perennials appear to die on the surface, but during the next growing season, they re-sprout from their roots. Just removing a dandelion won’t do. You have to destroy or poison their roots to prevent them from coming back.
Perennial plants are stubborn. It’s much harder to kill them, and so they’re more likely to reproduce and spread their seeds. Most of the time, this is a good thing, but it’s unfortunate for people who encounter dandelions in their yard as they’re looked down upon and considered to be an unwanted weed.
Dandelions are edible, tasty, and were used in salads for much of our history. They weren’t always considered a weed, but have become so because they’re hard to contain and control. People didn’t enjoy having them all over their yard, so they began to think poorly of them, leading to our cultural dislike and thoughtless removal of dandelions today.
Will they someday be accepted again? At this point, there’s no way of knowing. After all, lawns and yards are artificial. If we ever begin letting our yards be wild again, dandelions might just get their chance at redemption.
How To Prevent Dandelions From Spreading
So, how do you prevent dandelions from spreading if they’re both perennial and produce seed heads?
You can prevent dandelions from spreading by ripping out their roots or killing them with poisons while they are in the flower stage. Doing so will kill the dandelion itself and prevent it from producing seeds to create new plants. Here are some tips to prevent them from spreading:
- To rip out their roots, you can use a hand fork or a spade. It’s important you get all their roots, otherwise the dandelion will still grow back.
- If you’re not sure you can get all the roots, it might be a better idea to use poison. You can buy dandelion poison at your local home hardware or home improvement store. However, it’s important to be careful with poisons. Not only will they kill the dandelion, but they’ll kill the grass around it and anything that’s exposed to it, including pets or people.
- Be careful and practice being precise when applying poison to the dandelions in your yard. Always wear gloves and be mindful of where you’re applying the poison.
If you would like to explore your options to keep your dandelions from spreading, check out my article: How to Prevent Dandelions from Spreading: Complete Guide
What Are Perennial Plants?
What are these perennial plants I keep mentioning? Are they just dandelions, or are other plants perennial, too?
Perennial plants are any plant that grows back from its roots after its initial growing season. There are more perennial plants than just dandelions. Peonies, daylilies and black-eyed susans are also perennial.
Perennials tend to be flowering plants, as are dandelions. However, recently, scientists have been experimenting, trying to create perennial crops. If plants like wheat and oats were perennial instead of annual and grew back on their own each season, it would save the food industry and farmers a lot of money.
However, this fresh development is a long way from reaching fruition. Right now, perennial food-bearing plants are just a dream.
Are All Perennial Plants Weeds?
When you have to deal with dandelions all the time, you may wonder if all perennial plants are weeds.
While dandelions are considered weeds, not all perennial plants are. Some of them are pretty flowers that some gardeners covet, such as peonies or daylilies. Others are vines, line trumpet creepers or Carolina moon seeds. Dandelions are a rare exception, as most people keep perennial plants because they regrow season after season.
As I’ve said before, perennial plants are sturdy and hard to kill. This trait and their tendency to flower means that owners of flower gardens prefer them. If you have a neighbor whose garden blooms year after year with little work, they’re likely growing perennial plants.
However, perennial plants still need upkeep. While they tend to outgrow weeds, they can still struggle to reach their full potential if they have to fight a battle on two fronts. Plus, they can get plant diseases, the same as any other plant. Some might even be susceptible to certain diseases, depending on their species.
Additionally, the time when you initially plant perennial plants is very important. Many of them grow from bulbs, and they need very specific conditions to put out roots and not die. So, if you plant them when the ground’s already frozen for winter, you likely won’t see them growing or flowering the next spring or summer.
Removing Perennial Plants
Removing perennial plants is simple. Just cut out their roots with your spade or shovel and remove them from the soil. However, if you want to grow more plants there later, avoid using poison. Poisons can remain in the soil for some time and kill any plants or grasses that try to grow there.
Bear in mind that some perennial plants can be big. In cases like this, I advise you to cut the plants and their roots up and remove them in sections. When you dispose of them, put them in a plastic garbage bag or other container so the plants or their parts don’t wind up regrowing in some other part of your yard.
As for poisons, my prior warnings about them are important. They can kill the plants around the spot you’re treating if used too liberally, and so it’s important to be precise.
If you would like to explore your options to make your garden weed free, check out my article: How To Make a Garden Weed Free (10 Methods)
Dandelions don’t die after seeding. Instead, they hibernate and regrow after the growing season has ended. Dandelions are hearty and stubborn, and spread quickly if not taken care of. They’re perennial plants, growing back each season from their roots.
However, not all perennials are weeds. To remove them, you must poison or destroy their roots. Take care with poisons, though, since they’re dangerous and can damage your yard if you use them incorrectly.