If you’re a country dweller like myself, the thought of purposely growing dandelion seeds may amuse you, especially if your lawn and neighboring farm fields are bountiful with them. As a kid, I was guilty of propagating dandelions from seed by blowing the seeds off dandelion heads – and I still do, on a whimsy, as an adult. The more I learned about these perennial herbs, however, the more I began to appreciate them, seeing them less as a pesky weed and more as an amazing plant in their own right.
Did you know, for instance, that the leaves, flowers and roots of dandelion are edible or that the dandelion has purported medicinal properties? Bees and other pollinators also rely on them for a nectar source early in the growing season. It’s true! So, what are you waiting for? Let’s find out how to grow dandelion seeds and when to sow dandelions!
It is said that there are over 250 species of dandelion in existence, though the variety known as “common dandelion” (Taraxacum officinale) is the one that is most likely populating your lawn and garden. Dandelions are quite resilient and, as such, can withstand a lot of less than ideal growing conditions.
If you’re growing dandelion as a food source, however, you will want to grow it in conditions that are conducive for yielding high quality, and hence better tasting, dandelion greens. And by better tasting, I am alluding to the bitterness factor. The taste of dandelion is a bit on the bitter side.
Hardy to zone 3, dandelions grow in sun or shade, but for better tasting greens a partial to full shade location is ideal. The best soil for dandelion seed growing is characteristically rich, fertile, well-draining, slightly alkaline and soft down to 10 inches (25 cm.) deep because dandelion roots grow deep.
Seeds can be obtained from seed companies or you can try propagating dandelions from seed by collecting seeds from the heads of existing plants once the head transforms into a globe-shaped puffball. Now, let’s talk about planting seeds of dandelion.
You may be wondering when to sow dandelions in the garden. Seeds can be sown anytime from early spring to early fall. In terms of spacing, it is recommended to maintain a spacing of 6-9 inches (15-23 cm.) between plants in rows 12 inches (30 cm.) apart for dandelion seed growing. If your intent is to just grow young leaves for salads in a continual harvest, then sowing seeds more densely in short rows every few weeks would be a workable alternative.
To help boost germination rates, you may want to consider cold stratifying your seeds in the refrigerator for a week or so prior to planting seeds of dandelion. Given that dandelion seeds require light for germination, you will not want to completely submerge your seeds into soil – just lightly tamp, or press, the seeds into the soil surface. Another tip for good germination, and for a tastier crop, is to keep the planting area consistently moist throughout the season. Seedlings should appear within two weeks after the seeds are sown.
The process for growing dandelions in pots isn’t much different than for growing in the garden. Use a pot with drainage holes that is at least 6 inches (15 cm.) deep, fill it with potting soil and locate it in a bright indoor area.
The width of your pot, the number of plants you grow in that pot and how densely they are planted really depends on your purpose for growing them. For example, you will want to give plants you intend to grow to maturity a bit more space than those you are growing just for salad greens. One recommendation is to space seeds 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm.) apart in the container for full grown greens, more densely for baby greens.
Lightly sprinkle a scant amount of potting soil over the seeds, just barely covering them, and keep the soil consistently moist. Fertilizing occasionally throughout the growing period with a general purpose fertilizer will also give the dandelions a boost.
Even if you've spend years in a bad relationship with dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) it's not too late to turn it around. This freely growing weed has tender edible green leaves with a slightly bitter taste. Dandelions grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9. Resilient to the point of being invasive, dandelions spread rapidly through wind scattered seeds unless carefully controlled.
Last Updated: October 1, 2019 References
This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.
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Dandelions are known for their bright yellow flowers, dark green leaves, and seed-spreading puffballs that children love to blow on! While they are largely considered to be weeds, dandelions can be harvested and used in many ways, and may possibly have some health benefits. Dandelions are edible from root to flower, and people often use them in herbal medicine to treat conditions of the liver, bile ducts, and gallbladder, as well as for minor problems like bloating and indigestion.  X Research source Start growing dandelions in your garden or in pots to ensure that you always have a supply of these useful plants on hand!
Dandelions (Taraxacum spp.) are quotidian and culturally misunderstood features of modern society. Having felt both these ways at times in my life (as imagine many people also have), I became curious about them. I had friends who taught me about the healing power of the roots and the edibility of the foliage. I recall finding one in New York growing out of a metal signpost of a busy traffic interchange it was actually thriving there. That kind of became my totem when I lived there: this plant, so strong and thriving in the unlikeliest of places.
I helped a friend dig out the fall roots out of her back yard. We cleaned them meticulously with a toothbrush and we hung them upside down to dry on a clothesline she left the foliage on, which she said aided in the medicinal potency of the plant roots.
A couple years later I was thumbing through the pages of James Green’s The Male Herbal. One of his central hypotheses as an herbalist concerns the expurgation of the bitter flavor – so prevalent in plants such as dandelion – from Western diets has wreaked havoc upon reproductive organ and immune systems:
The mistake of eliminating the bitter flavor from our daily experience is as harmony disrupting as eliminating one of the colors from the light spectrum… It’s my opinion that the habit developed throughout our lifetime of avoiding bitter-flavored foods and herbs has created a chronic dysfunction in our lives and organs of digestion, assimilation, and excretion, eliciting secondary hormone imbalances (32).
I'd long grown the true or common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale not to be confused with Cichorium intybus, “Italian” dandelion, or chicory) and naturally became curious if there were other species of this plant. I've since discovered three: Rubber Dandelion (Taraxacum kok-saghyz), Pink Dandelion, and White Dandelion (Taraxacum albidum).