Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - May 31, 2012

From: Bastrop, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Pests, Wildflowers
Title: Dandelions in bluebonnets in Bastrop TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a 20'x60' front yard area where I planted bluebonnets. It has become horrifically inundated with dandelions. How do I eradicate the dandelions while preserving the bluebonnets ? Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

The much beloved Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet) is an annual which drops its seeds in late Summer to early Fall. Those seeds lie in the soil until (hopefully) winter rains permit them to wake up and germinate. By January, rosettes are beginning to form and will be followed by blooms in a few weeks.

Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) is, alas, a perennial with a long, deep taproot. Once it begins to bloom, it keeps on blooming and is very hard to get rid of. The seeds are wind-blown, it does not need pollination and the blooms can turn into seed heads overnight.

Here is an article from wildmanstevebrill.com that is both funny and informative. More informative (and less funny) is this Integrated Pest Management Online article about dandelions. Just to summarize: allow no flower to seed out, grub the root out but note that it can regenerate. From that last article, this extract:

"Spot treatment with glyphosate can control existing dandelion plants, but do not allow the spray or drift to contact desirable plants or injury will result."

We suggest that if you have a real bad-boy root that you get some small disposable sponge paintbrushes, cut off the plant as far down on the root as you can and, within five minutes, use the paintbrush to cover the cut end of the root with the glyphosate before the root can heal over to protect itself.

Beyond that, do your best for the bluebonnets and your worst for the dandelions. Good luck!

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Return to original color of non-native crape myrtles in Henderson, TX
July 17, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I bought 3 Dynamite Crape Myrtles that were about 3 -4 feet tall (at Lowe's). In the late Spring, I planted 2 of them about 100 feet apart, in full sun, and left the other one in...
view the full question and answer

Fruit fly maggots attacking non-native Grumichama in Lake Worth FL
March 12, 2011 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants How do I prevent fruit fly maggots from attacking my Grumichama fruit?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
June 11, 2010 - Dear Mr Smarty Pants.I hope you can help to save my sanity! I am a true believer in using native plantings, having a yard that is 99% native. I hope that fact provides me a little extra credit towar...
view the full question and answer

Non-native creeping fig
February 26, 2009 - I like the creeping fig that covers my brick wall but the roots are very invasive and are choking my rose bushes and other surrounding plants. I spent two days removing the roots and loosening the so...
view the full question and answer

Non-native oleander failing to thrive in Corpus Christi
May 05, 2010 - I live in South Texas (Corpus Christi). My husband planted Red Oleander in partial to full sun about 1 1/2 weeks ago. They are watered by our sprinkler system. They have recently started to bloom, ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.