Dandelions, like most weeds, will grow in pretty much any soil.

Many gardeners claim that you can tell the pH of your garden’s soil (its acidity or alkalinity) just looking at the weeds that grow there. Mosses, ferns, horsetails, dandelions and hawkweed, they say, only grow in acidic soil while wild carrots, goosefoots, bladder campions, and thistles indicate an alkaline soil… except that it’s not really true.

In fact, all the afore-mentioned plants grow equally well in soils that are on the exact opposite of the spectrum (mosses in alkaline soil, thistles in acid soil, etc.). Even a cursory glance at the weeds in your own yard will probably show dandelions and wild carrots growing side by side, or thistles near hawkweeds. In fact, the ability to grow in almost any soil is a characteristic common to most of the plants we call weeds. Thus, the presence of a particular weed does not indicate much of anything… except that it is perhaps time to do a little weeding.

If you really want to know the pH of your soil, just have your soil tested.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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