Contact Us Host an Event 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

Plants for indoor container gardening from Lax Vegas NV
May 10, 2013 - What is an good flower to grow in a pot? I live in a apt., and like roses,tulips etc. if that helps any.
view the full question and answer

Dividing non-native daffodils from Austin
April 15, 2012 - The foliage on my daffodils is lush and healthy, but I have no blooms. Should I divide them?
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native mandevilla in Southport NC
July 11, 2009 - I have planted a mandevilla and the leaves look healthy. It produces buds, but something is cutting them off. Right next to it is a mandevilla that is blooming profusely. Any ideas?
view the full question and answer

Camellia seeds
September 21, 2008 - Hi Mr. Smarty Plants; I have a Camellia plant that has bulbs that look like they could be fruit. And when this bulb opened, four or five little nuts came out. Are they fruit or nuts and can they be e...
view the full question and answer

Identification of non-native Grape Hyacinth
April 13, 2013 - Mr Smarty Plants, can you tell me please, what is the name of the flower in the attached link? I see numerous references to it as blue bells or bluebells, but when I check the USDA Plants database, no...
view the full question and answer

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