Ahh, the dandy dandelion! This European native is probably one of the most well-known weeds to have a love-hate relationship with gardeners everywhere. Some love the plant. Others hate it. For me, seeing those first yellow blooms popping up across the lawn (and in the garden) each spring brings happiness.
Reasons For Keeping and Growing Dandelions
In a world filled with “weeds,” be a dandelion! Why would I suggest such a thing? Let me count the ways”
Okay, I get it. Dandelions can be problematic for people that enjoy perfect green lawns and just-so gardens. Maybe you see these broadleaf perennials as an army of yellow intruders that quickly invade your landscape, their deep penetrating taproots steadfastly anchoring them in place. I will not lie — dandelion weeds can be notoriously difficult to get rid of. And, yes, they do easily propagate through seeds via the wind, which can “potentially” carry them up to 60 miles. BUT in spite of these faults, dandelion plants have a wealth of benefits too. And if I’m being painfully honest, don’t we all have faults? I can be just as stubborn, for example.
Dandelions are resilient
One of the many things I admire about dandelion plants is their adaptability. I mean how can you not appreciate a plant that can literally pop up in a sidewalk crack or other less than ideal location and still thrive? This ability to adapt and overcome is certainly something I can relate to, as I have done my fair share of that too. Regardless of the obstacles life may throw at you, one must strive to persevere. Dandelions do this well. They don’t give up easily, and neither should you.
Dandelions are healthy
These daring travelers have seen it all. In fact, it’s thought that dandelions may have found their way to the US on the Mayflower. What a voyage. It wasn’t by accident either. After all, these plants have been used herbally for centuries to treat numerous maladies.
And the best part – drum roll – dandelion plants are edible and highly nutritious. That’s right! All parts of the plant can be eaten and have a number of health benefits associated with them. They’re packed with vitamins and antioxidants. You can get take full advantage of this “free” medicine by growing dandelions instead of doing away with them. For instance, harvest the dandelion greens and toss them in a salad (blooms too). Dandelion tea is popular but the root works as a substitute for coffee as well.
Dandelions attract pollinators and provide nutrients
My husband is one of the dandelion haters out there, and we constantly disagree about my inclusion of these cheery yellow blooms in the yard. I’m happy to say we’ve come to a compromise – he can have his weed-free lawn, but the dandelions are welcome out back in the wildlife area, with the white clover. And if some of their seeds happen to find their way to the front, I won’t tell. Dandelion flowers are actually important to have around. They attract beneficial insects and pollinators. As if this wasn’t enough, did you know that dandelion plants, with those long taproots, can also help aerate the soil and provide much-needed nutrients to other surrounding plants?
Dandelions are just plain fun
Still not sold? Well, here’s just one more great thing about the so-called dandelion weeds in your lawn and garden. They can bring out the child in us. Life is short so why not live a little? Take a step back in time for a moment. I’m sure many of you can remember the joy of blowing those white fluffy seed heads as children. I still do it (don’t tell hubby).
While many of us did this purely out of fun just to watch the seeds float through the air, there were other reasons for doing this further back in time. Dandelion seeds were a way to foretell the future or keep up with the time. Also called “fairy clocks,” dandelion flowers turn towards the sun throughout the day, helping tell the time. Blowing those seed heads would also give you the “fairy” time (an hour per puff) by counting the number of puffs until all the seeds were gone. And if you’re feeling especially nostalgic, make a wish when blowing the seeds!
For me, dandelions are beautiful and belong in the garden.