Common Questions: How can I dry dandelion flowers without them going to seed?

This is a great question!  Let’s first clarify what it means for dandelions to “go to seed”.  You probably recognize dandelions as the bright yellow flower that appears in lawns and along the road every Spring.  You’re probably also familiar with the “wish flowers” that come a bit later.  These “wish flowers” are the puff balls that when you blow on them, all their puffy pieces take off into the air and float away.  These are both the same plant!  Yup, the puffy “wish flowers” are dandelions that have lost their petals and replaced them with dandelion seeds.  The seeds are spread when we blow them or when a breeze kicks up and carries them away.  This is how dandelions spread and perpetuate themselves.

Dandelion Flower Jar

Dandelions have great medicinal properties in their roots, leaves, and flowers.  They can be used to treat and relieve a variety of ailments and issues.  Dandelion flowers specifically can be used internally, such as in a tea, or externally.  Because the flowers will turn into seeds, it can be difficult to harvest and dry them.

Dandelion Table

Thankfully, we were able to harvest and dry about 114 dandelion flowers this season!  While we can’t say exactly why or how our approach to drying them worked, here is the process we followed:

  • We dug whole dandelion plants (roots, leaves, and flowers) from our own private property in Southern New Hampshire and washed them in one piece to remove dirt, dead leaves, and any critters that might have come along for the ride.  (Note: It is important to know the conditions and possible fertilizer/pesticide exposure of what you forage, especially if you are going to be using it internally.)
  • Once everything was clean (this took quite a while), we took on the task of deciding what would happen to the plants.  Some of the dandelion leaves would be eaten fresh in a salad while others would be bunched and dried.  The roots were all left connected and would dry with the leaves they were attached to.  The flowers, which were in different stages of blooming, would either be left intact with the leaves and roots to dry or snipped off to dry separately.
  • The flowers that were mostly or entirely opened were removed with about ¾ of an inch of stem remaining. They were carefully arranged and inverted on an old window screen and left for about a week or so.
  • The remaining attached flowers, leaves, and roots were bunched and hung to dry indoors with limited sun exposure.
  • The flowers that were removed and inverted all dried beautifully (first photo at the top of this blog); none went to seed!  Of the flowers that were left bunched with the leaves and roots (pictured below), all went to seed (and made a mess in our kitchen).

Dandelion Drying.jpg

We can’t say exactly how or why this worked, but for us this year, it did.  We’ll try this same process again next year and hopefully we will have the same results!

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9 thoughts on “Common Questions: How can I dry dandelion flowers without them going to seed?

  1. I’ve dried my pan of dandelions .. sitting in the sun to get the moisture out of them before placing on a jar… but they have started to get that white puffy part on them.. can you still eat like this.. either plain or in teas?

    1. Hi Joyce. Yes, they can still be utilized but my have some diminished benefit and taste. I’ve found drying them as quick as possible is helpful in keeping the flowers together. You can utilize a food dehydrator for this with the flowers placed bloom side down. If you are utilizing dandelion in tea for nutritional or medicinal benefits, also consider using the leaves or (well washed) roots. Hope this helps!

  2. I picked only the flowers , rinsed them well and laid out to dry in my garage room , after that I separated the flowers from the sepals , them lay them out in sun to dry , then place in a jar .

  3. I’ve been drying the flower on a screen outside. They still feel a tad damp. Can I put them in the oven for a bit? And how dry do they have to be before I can store just the flowers in a jar? I plan to make salve later. Thanks.

    1. If it is warm where you are, you could put them in your car to creat a ‘hot box’ of sorts. If you have a food dehydrator, that will work well on the lowest setting. A third option would be to set your screen in a closed room with a dehumidifier. I avoid using the oven but if that’s you’re only option, use the lowest setting and vent the door a bit. Yes, store you finished dandelions in a glass jar out of direct sunlight. Good luck!

  4. Most of the first batch of spring dandies I dried have not gone to seed. I put them on an elevated window screen in a dark upstairs closet with the door open a bit. The second batch picked a week later went to seed on the lower half and the tops remained yellow. I’ve left them up there for now to make sure they’ve stopped going to seed because it took a while for that to happen. I think that the more mature the flowers are when picked, the more likely they are to go to seed. It might be best to pick them when they are mostly open – like 3/4, but not all the way, and avoid picking the ones that are fully mature or are an umbrella shape. The roots and leaves did fine, but I took the flowers off those. I also made tincture, both with just flowers and the whole plant, and I guess doing that guarantees they won’t to go seed. Thanks for the post !

    1. I love the idea of picking them before they are at full bloom. Perhaps the energy they have inside brings them to their full bloom rather than seed. Thanks for sharing!

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