Wild violets are those flowers, usually purple but sometimes white or yellow that sprinkle your lawn in the springtime. Those first few flowers might elicit an “ooh!” or an “aw, how pretty” thought at first glance but unless you want your lawn taken over by them, you’d better move quickly to eliminate them.
About the Wild Violet Plant
Wild violets are perennials capable of living several years. They are also rhizomes. Rhizomes are stems that grow horizontally, usually underground. Along the stem are nodes that sprout either roots or shoots for new plants. They grow to a height of between 2 and 5 inches. Covered with heart-shaped leaves, they spread quickly. Wild violets are most often found in shaded areas.
Problems Caused by Wild Violets
Because of the rhizome aspect of violet growth, they are difficult to simply pull them or dig out. If any part of the rhizome or root is missed, the violet will grow back and continue spreading. The insidious way they spread can crowd out the grass or plants in the area and before long the wild violets will take over the area.
Controlling Wild Violets Chemically
Controlling wild violets is achieved by chemical means. Depending on the degree of invasion, it can take several years of repeated herbicide applications to eradicate the plant. Several applications should be made each year. Wild violets are considered broadleaf plants so purchase herbicides designated for broadleaf weed control. Chemicals that are effective against wild violets include metsulfuron, sulfosulfuron, dicamba and a mixture of 2,4-D and triclopyr. Check herbicide labels before purchasing to be sure it works on wild violets.
Considerations When Using Chemicals
The 2,4-D and triclopyr solution can only be applied by a certified professional and is not available to homeowners. Metsulfuron, when sold under the name Escort is unavailable for use on residential lawns. Some of these chemicals may be harmful to specific types of grass. Always check the label and be sure the chemical you’ve chosen won’t negatively impact your lawn or other nearby plants.
Using Cultural Controls
Taking good care of your lawn is the best way to prevent wild violets from taking hold. Use a proper grass seed for your area. Choose one that produces a thick, dense lawn. Fertilize it to stimulate early spring growth and follow up with regular watering. Mow frequently to stimulate growth too. A lush dense and healthy lawn leaves little room for weeds, even wild violets, to take root.
Sources: North Carolina State University: Wild Violets
University of Nebraska: Weed Control Wild Violets