En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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 Pests Questions

Oak tree with browning leaves in Brenham TX
August 16, 2011 - I have a large oak tree in my small back yard. I also have a sprinkler so the tree has been receiving some water. Nevertheless, some of the leaves are turning brown in patches. Would drip watering ...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of Lantanas
August 06, 2008 - Here at work we have 4 beautiful yellow Santanas(should I say had), the leaves have started to turn brown and no longer blooming. Appears to have a fungus or disease. Please help!
view the full question and answer

Are fuzzy oak leaf galls harmful to post oak trees?
October 19, 2012 - Are the fuzzy balls on the undersides of our post oak trees harmful?
view the full question and answer

Discouraging rattlesnakes in northern California
July 12, 2011 - Searching for information re: managing your garden to discourage snakes, especially rattlesnakes. I live in northern California and we have many. I found one of your articles, but the link to an U. of...
view the full question and answer

Fungus gnats on indoor plants
July 09, 2007 - Hello, I live in Austin and I work in an office where we like to have plants. Recently we started to get these annoying tiny, little nits, how can we get rid of them without harming my plants. Help th...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center