Turf Violets, Viola odorata

Posted by gardensoul on April - 2 - 2015

Violets in GrassDon’t you hate it when you do something stupid in the garden?  As a new Colorado resident, I was thrilled to see my grandmother’s favorite flower, sweet violet, in my yard!  In my native Florida, I remember seeing violets along the catwalk in the swamp adjoining Wekiva Springs State Park.  Living in the sand hills of Orange County, Florida, I knew I didn’t have a chance of growing violets in my sandy garden.  Here in Colorado, in my enthusiasm, I transplanted violets from the backyard to the side and front yards.  Then I learned it is considered a plant pest!  By that time I suspected there might be a problem.  It was popping up in the yard and garden beds. Yikes!

Why is it such a pest?  Like most successful weeds, this plant has multiple ways to reproduce.  Violets produce a seed pod with many seeds very quickly after blooming.  They also reproduce with stolons, stems on the mother plant that spread out creating new plants . I suggest digging violets up, focusing on getting as much of the roots as possible.  Leaving even a tiny portion of the root will produce a new plant.  How about herbicides?  I tried a broad-leaf herbicide such as Weed-B-Gon, active ingredient Triclopyr with minimal effectiveness. Using Round Up, active ingredient Glyphosate, isn’t all that effective either.  And if you aren’t super careful with Round Up, you’ll kill the nearby grass as this herbicide is absorbed by leaves, travels to the roots and indiscriminately kills all plants… well most plants.

What’s a gardener to do?  This is one of the best times to get out there and hand pull violets with a dandelion weeding knife or weed grubber.  Violets are blooming, which makes them easy to spot, you have the opportunity to remove the plant before seeding, new seedlings are sprouting near the mother plant and spring soil is loose.  If violets are a problem in your yard, get out there and pull some violets. Oh, and get that dandelion, too!