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Wild Violet


Aug 6, 2016

QuestionThe attached pictures are some kind of "weed" that is taking over our beds.  What is this & how do we get rid of it?

Wild Violet

AnswerThe weed in question is wild violets.  They are tenacious to say the least, and getting rid of them is difficult if not impossible.  They have a small bulb or corm underground and spread quickly.  While some gardeners like them for their showy spring blooms I detest them.  They are a host for our state butterfly the Diana.  Spot spraying with a product containing glyphosate (Round-up) can help.  I weed-eat them to the ground and put cardboard and mulch over them and they are “gone” for the season, but back strong the next year.

May 1, 2016

QuestionI need help with weed control.  I have what appears to be a weed with small purple blooms and heart shaped leaves in my garden. It seems to be quite an invasive weed. It seems to spread by runners. I have never seen it in my yard before, and it is getting in my lawn and my flower beds.  I am uncertain how to fight it.

 AnswerThe weed in question is quite invasive—it is the common violet.  It does have pretty purple blooms in the spring, but you start out with a couple of plants and pretty soon the entire yard is covered. It has a small bulb or corm underground which multiplies and the more you mow, the more it spreads.  It is tough to kill, but a broadleaf herbicide with 2,4-D and dicamba can slow it down in the lawn, or try to dig up some of the clumps if it is just getting started.  You can also spot-spray with Round-up in flower beds, making sure to only spray what you want to kill.

 March 26, 2016


I had no idea how invasive the little wild violets are!!!  I have always thought they were cute and pretty.  I have a huge pot of them and water them all summer and keep it until the next year.  But---since I moved to the country, namely Mountain Home, I have been  invaded by these little devils.  They are everywhere---my flower yard, my raised bed gardens. I have pulled enough of them to cover the whole county.   I was doing a really good job of pulling the little clumps of them and getting rid of nearly all of them last spring when, a dreaded thing happened---a snake moved thru and I left the rest to him.  I am deathly afraid of any kind of snake.  I didn't get all the violets pulled before they died down.  I know I will have the same to do over again this spring.  Do you have a solution to my problem??  Since they have a bulb, how do they go from one part of the yard to the other side or to the pots? 


Have you considered moving again?! LOL.  However all jokes aside, you will probably fight wild violets for the rest of your life.  I fight them every year and each year I think I have gotten a handle on them, and the following spring they are back every bit as strong. They multiply rapidly by producing more bulbs underground, and every flower that is left in place can produce seeds which also help spread them.  They usually get started in shadier areas of the yard that don’t have as much competition and then they spread.  I do not have them in my raised beds, but they are in all the shade gardens and adjacent lawn areas.  As soon as I see them, I weed-eat them at the soil level and keep doing that. I put down cardboard or newspaper and then mulch over that.  It does help but they aren’t gone.  If you can spot spray with Round-up that will give you some control, but that doesn’t work in the lawn and mine are too inter-planted with other perennials and shrubs.  If you have the time and patience to dig up the plants and bulbs, which will definitely help, but you will probably miss some.  A spray with 2,4-D in the  lawn can manage them, but not completely kill them, and that is only for lawn use.  Let’s hope the snake has moved on!

 December 5, 2015


In the spring of this year before the perennials started to come up, my flower bed was almost covered with wild violets. Needless to say I did not want them.  Is there anything I can do ahead of time to kill them before they start in 2016?  Would appreciate any help you can offer. 


I am in the same boat as you are—or should I say garden!?  Wild violets are very difficult to control without chemicals, and even with chemicals are difficult.  I have them so mixed in with perennials and shrubs, that herbicides are out of the question.  I attack regularly with a weed eater in the spring and early summer, and then put down cardboard or newspapers under the mulch and around the desired plants. It gives me a season free until the next year. I am hoping to eventually wear them out, but I don’t see that happening in the foreseeable future.  Pre-emergent herbicides won’t work on perennial weeds, which wild violets are.  If you have the stamina to dig and sift out the tiny bulblets, that can help but I doubt you will get them all

May 2012

QuestionWild violets are spreading into our monkey grass. We’ve pulled it from the beds pretty well, but now it is entwined with the monkey grass. Short of digging up the monkey grass and getting the weeds out, is there another solution? Thanks for any help.

 AnswerUnfortunately, the answer is not promising. Anything that would kill wild violets would also kill monkey grass. Both are tough plants, and hard to kill, but killing one would lead to the death of the other. I think wild violets are the worse I have ever seen them this year—I know I have been weed eating and pulling them for weeks. If you can spot spray and just get the herbicide on the violets, a glyphosate (Roundup) product could help, but even that would need more than one application.

April 2010

QuestionI've heard that wild violets can take over flower beds. Will they hurt azaleas? I've also heard that azaleas don't like to be disturbed. Is it ok to pull weeds under the azaleas or should I just keep them trimmed?

 AnswerWild violets are tenacious and can spread quite rapidly. Many folks enjoy the colorful flowers in the spring, but despise the foliage all summer. I really don’t think violets will hurt your azaleas that badly, although a few this year will multiply to many more next year. Violets along with any other weed can compete for water and nutrition, but they are shallow rooted. That is probably why you heard azaleas don’t like to be disturbed, their shallow roots make them more susceptible to damage from groundcovers or other plant competition. Violets have a small underground corm or bulb which aids in their spread. Pulling them out or hoeing would be better than just trimming and would not hurt your azaleas.

July 2007

QuestionI recently purchased a home with a Bermuda lawn, but the previous owner planted violets in the flower beds and they had spread all over the lawns. How do I get rid of them without losing the grass?

 AnswerWild violets are not an easy plant to kill. They have a small bulb or corm underground and multiply quite readily. Herbicides containing 2,4-D will give some control, but are best used when the weather is a bit cooler. It will take multiple applications. Spot spray heavily infested areas with a glyphosate product (Round-up) but be aware this product will kill grass as well. You could
also dig them out, making sure to get the bulb along with the tops, but that is also hard work! Good luck.

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