Dandelion can be managed in Autumn broadleaf weed control

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion thrives in temperate regions and exists on playing fields, gardens, and lawns. It has yellow flower heads, that turn into fluffy white balls and disperse in the wind. Dandelion is often mistaken for catsear, which is also known as false dandelion.

Taraxacum officinale is the most common variety of this plant, and considered a herb. People often use the leaves, stems, flowers, and roots for medicinal purposes.

Dandelion is classed as an environmental weed throughout Australia.

After you read this, you will be able to:

  • Identify the weed dandelion.
  • Know its habitat.
  • Know the best cultural and chemical options to control it.

Dandelion is a good indicator weed of soils low in calcium and high in potassium. More information on common turfgrass weeds is in our weed ID chart.

Dandelion is a tap-rooted perennial herb with dark green, spear-shaped leaves. These leaves are hairless or have only a few hairs and are 5-45 cm long. Leaves are lobed but nearly always point backwards. These deep lobes give the leaves the appearance of the teeth of a pruning saw.

The stems can be glabrous or have a few short hairs. Plants have a milky latex, and the leaves are all basal. A single flower head is present on each stem. In good conditions, a plant produces 50–150 seed heads in a year with an average of 250 seeds per head.

Most new seedlings appear in early to mid-summer. This is shortly after the majority of seed production that happens in late spring. These seeds are grey-white, fluffy and spherical. Wind is how most of the seeds move and they germinate almost all the year-round. Taproots are also able to send off new shoots.



How to Identify Dandelions.

Category: Broadleaf (Dicot).
Flower: Dandelions flower almost all year round, and the flower head of Dandelion is 2–3.5 cm across. The flower head consists of numerous, small, yellow, petal-like flowers.
Height: The leafless flower stalk is 7.5-30 cm tall.
Leaf length: Leaves are 5-45 cm long
Leaf width: Leaves are up to 1-10 cm wide.
Reproduction: Reproduces by seeds that can germinate almost year-round. Taproots can also send off new shoots.
Comments: Mature plants form a basal rosette of leaves. The narrow leaves are stalkless, deeply divided toward the base, and lobed. These lobes are triangular, often paired opposite each other, and point backwards. On the midvein and leaf underside there are sometimes scattered hairs present. Large, fleshy taproots may branch and can reach depths up to 200 cm. If you cut the plant it exudes milky white sap.

Habitat: Dandelion prefers full sun and moist soil. But, once established, it grows in light shade and drier soils. Dandelions grow in gardens, playing fields, and waste places.



How to remove Dandelion from your lawn.

Cultural and chemical options can control this weed. Dandelions are perennial weeds, and so return every year, and if you don’t get on top of them they will take over your lawn.
Cultural Control.

If Dandelion is not widespread, you can remove it by hand. You must completely remove the root system to prevent regrowth. It does not normally reproduce vegetatively, but even small root fragments can establish new plants.

Limiting potassium fertilizer also helps control this weed. Grass outcompetes it for for potassium, and this competitive advantage means that if you limit K supply, the grass wins.

Avoid heavy use of lime, as heavy lime use favours Dandelions.

One last point is be aware that seeds can last 1-5 years in the soil.




Chemical Control.

There are several turf herbicides that control dandelion and the best time for effective treatment of dandelion is after the plant has flowered and is in the “puffball” stage. This tends to be in the early Spring or late Summer into early Autumn when plants are actively growing.


In conclusion

The key to managing Danedlions is growing healthy turf by mowing at the right height and fertilizing.