Weed avengers: Identifying wild violet

May 31, 2019 -  By
Wild violet (Photo: iStock.com/KulikovaN)

Photo: iStock.com/KulikovaN

Wild violet isn’t always viewed as a troublesome weed. In fact, some homeowners might even encourage the growth of these petite (usually) purple blooms. However, a large patch of wild violet growing in the middle of an otherwise well-manicured lawn is typically seen as a problem.

Wild violet is a low-growing perennial weed commonly found in damp woods, meadows and roadsides. Once established, however, the weed will tolerate sunny, drought-prone locations. It is a colony-forming weed and tends to grow in low-lying patches.

Wild violet can be a difficult weed to treat, and turf managers often struggle with it, according to Jason Fausey, director of technical services for turf and ornamental at Nufarm.

Aaron Patton, turfgrass extension specialist at Purdue University, adds that cultural practices such as mowing, fertilization and irrigation have little impact on wild violet populations in lawns. Therefore, turf managers rely on herbicides to control wild violet.

Because the weed spreads by rhizomes and seeds, preemergent herbicides are not effective at managing wild violet, Fausey says.

Postemergent herbicide options are available, however. Look for products with one or more of these active ingredients: 2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba or triclopyr.

Proper timing of application is key, Fausey adds. Spring applications to wild violet can control plants that have emerged prior to the application. However, more applications may be required as the plants germinate and emerge from dormant rhizomes.

When dealing with an established stand of wild violets, expect multiple herbicide applications to be required for complete control.

Leaves: Wild violet boasts smooth, green, heart-shaped leaves, with pointed tips and rounded teeth. The leaves arise from the crown on a long petiole, which is generally about twice as long as the leaf blade.

Flowers: Wild violet produces a typical violetlike flower. Depending on the type of wild violet, the flower can range from white to bluish-purple in color and can even be yellow, as is the case with the aptly named yellow violet. Flowers are produced from April to June and have five petals.

Stalks: Flowers are produced on leafless stalks that are no longer than the leaves themselves.

Rhizomes: Plants spread by short, thick, branching rhizomes in the soil that are about the size of a pinky finger. Plants emerge from the rhizomes from April until September. Because of the long emergence window, wild violet is difficult to control.

Sources: Aaron Patton, Ph.D., turfgrass extension specialist, Purdue University; Jason Fausey, director of technical services for turf and ornamental, Nufarm

This article is tagged with and posted in Featured, May 2019, Turf+Ornamental Care

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