Dandelions are generally considered to be nothing but pesky garden weeds and the idea of indoor dandelion growing may seem a little unusual. However, dandelions have a number of useful purposes. In the kitchen, the greens are eaten raw, used in salads, smoothies, wine, or sauteed much like spinach. Medicinally, the dandelion plant is thought to act as a mild laxative or diuretic.
Indoor Dandelion Plant Care
Growing dandelion plants indoors may seem odd, but it is easy, and they can be grown at any time of year. Here’s how:
If you want to grow dandelion indoors, you may have to purchase seeds online, although you might find them at a nursery specializing in herbs or wildflowers. If you’re adventurous you can save seeds from wild dandelions at the puffball stage. Be sure the dandelions haven’t been treated with herbicides, pesticides, or other chemicals.
The container for growing dandelion plants indoors should be at least 6 inches (15 cm.) deep to accommodate the long roots. The width of the container depends on how many plants you intend to plant and how large you want them to be at harvest. A 4- to 6-inch (10-15 cm.) container is sufficient for a single dandelion plant. Be sure the container has a drainage hole in the bottom. Cover the drainage hole with a paper coffee filter to prevent potting soil from washing through the drainage hole.
Fill the container with any general-purpose potting mix. Don’t use garden soil for indoor dandelion growing, the soil will become compacted and the plants will soon suffocate. Sprinkle the seeds on the surface of the soil, then cover them lightly with potting mix.
Dandelion plants indoors need several hours of bright sunlight. You may need to supplement natural light with a grow light or fluorescent tubes. Leave the container under the lights for 14 to 16 hours per day (a timer will help). Water the potting mix regularly to keep it moist, but never saturated.
Thin the seedlings to a distance of about 2 inches (5 cm.). Seedlings can be a little closer together if you want to harvest tender baby leaves, or a little further apart for larger plants. Harvest the dandelions before the plant blooms if you intend to grow dandelion indoors for use in the kitchen, otherwise, the flavor will be very bitter.
Store dandelion greens in an airtight bag and keep them in the refrigerator. The greens retain their quality for several days and sometimes as long as two weeks.