MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This time of year, we always see swaths of yellow mixed into the green, which had Tim from Burnsville wondering if there are more dandelions this spring than in the past.
“I don’t know if we’re seeing more dandelions, but people are more in tune that dandelions are a good pollinator plant,” says Julie Weisenhorn, a horticulture educator with the University of Minnesota Extension. “Maybe people aren’t mowing their dandelions or they’re leaving their dandelions more. That might be one reason why we might see more.”
Dandelions come from the French phrase, dent-de-lion, which means lion’s tooth. They are native to Europe and parts of Asia and depending on who you ask, they are either a flower or a weed. Children often pick them for parents, while parents often pick them for a greener lawn.
Dandelions are technically a broadleaf perennial weed that come up each spring. They seed heavily and have very long roots, which make it hard for people to get rid of them. People who live next to neighbors who don’t control their dandelions often end up with many unwanted dandelions of their own.
Weisenhorn says people can use herbicides to kill the plant if it’s in very large quantity. Given the way it grows, it can be spot-treated, rather than having to apply herbicide all over the yard or garden. She also recommends a dandelion digger to hand-dig out the plant and its root. Mowing may cut down the plant’s leaf tissue and deplete the dandelion over time, but it doesn’t get rid of them entirely.
“They have a very long tap root,” she says. “Any piece of that root that remains in the soil is going to reorganize as a plant.”
Ultimately, Weisenhorn says use moderation when it comes to dandelions because they are such a good early-season pollinator.
“There are some people who feel very strongly about not using an herbicide or pesticide on their property and this might be a case where they are a little bit right,” Weisenhorn said.