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weed with white fluffy seed heads

Enjoying warm locations, dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) grow roots as deep as 15 feet into the soil, if they remain undisturbed. Often considered a weed in lawns and flowerbeds, these rapidly growing plants are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through10. The white floaties that the dandelion produces are specialized seeds that are highly successful for widespread reproduction.

Before the specialized seeds appear, dandelions generate a yellow to orange flower on a stem that can rise up to 18 inches from the ground. This flower appears bright and fluffy against its green background, but is not a large or particularly appealing blossom for insect attraction. Requiring no pollinators, dandelions are self-pollinating and often change from flower to seed head over several days. This rapid seeding ability makes dandelions extremely successful at populating a widespread area — gardeners cannot keep up with the constant growth.

Flowering

Because many dandelions find a good growing location in lawn areas, wind gusts often disperse the seed parachutes throughout the area. The umbrella hairs lift the seed from the head and float along the breeze. The extremely lightweight seed can float as far as the wind allows. Once dropped into another soil location, these seeds do not have extensive dormant periods like other plant species. In fact, the seed germinates quickly to establish itself in the new location before plant competition takes over for natural resources, such as moisture and sunlight.

The white floaties originate from a densely packed seed head that resembles a fuzzy ball. If you look closely, each seed head has dozens of umbrella-like extensions. Located at the seed head’s center are the seeds — each seed has this umbrella structure attached to them. The umbrella’s canopy consists of hairs formed much like a chimney sweep brush. Combining both a tall stem and airy seed head, dandelions keep their seeds upright and available to wind vectors for successful distribution in the region.

The white floaties provide widespread dandelion populations since they fly far distances, especially if the wind is strong enough. In fact, successfully grown dandelion roots help your soil remain aerated. As the roots grow deeply, they reduce soil compaction by creating air and moisture pockets underground. As a result, other tender plant roots have a chance to move into the aerated soil for ample foliage and stem growth. The dandelion taproot also increases nutrients in the shallow topsoil by moving critical elements, like calcium, from the deeper ground regions. Overall, successful dandelion seeds and seedlings create a fertile environment for all plant growth.

Controlling these persistent lawn weeds and others requires killing these invaders, roots and all. IMAGE All-In-One Lawn Weed Killer starts working on contact to kill tough weeds in established lawns all summer long. The ready-to-spray container attaches to a regular garden hose, automatically measuring and mixing as you spray. It delivers visible results in three to seven days and kills weeds completely within two to three weeks.

To help your lawn grass stay at its competitive peak, follow these “good practices” as well:

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For best results, treat new weeds as they emerge from soil, when they’re young, actively growing and still less than 3 inches tall. This stops these lawn pests before they can establish, set seed and spread on their own. Used as directed, IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer is guaranteed not to harm your lawn.*

1. UMass Extension Turf Program, “Biology and Management of Crabgrass,” University of Massachusetts Amherst, May 2011.

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Make sure to read and follow all label directions found on the herbicide bag/container. Make sure the herbicide is safe to use on the type of lawn grass which you are growing,

You can also spray the weed when it is young and tender with a broadleaf herbicide, thus killing them before they produce seed or gather up as much of the fluffy white seed heads as possible reducing the number of seed available for germination.

One question, what type of grass do you plan to seed with and when?

Check with a garden centers for preemergent and/or postemergent herbicides available in your area.

If a warm season grass such as bermudagrass or centipedegrass, now is a great time to do so.

The weed you described seems to be cudweed (without a picture I cannot id with 100% certainty.) Cudweed is a broadleaf weed than does produce a mass of fluffy white seeds. Yes, these seed will most certainly be the next weedy plants.