University of Maryland Extension

Wild violet

(More Lawn Weeds)  (Lawn Control Options) 

Wild violet
Viola papilionacea

wild violet



Growth habit

Low growing < 1-ft. from basal crown; heart-shaped leaves; flowers blue to violet, occasionally white, on leafless stalks.


Seed and short, branching rhizomes.

Conditions that favor growth

Thrives in moist shady sites, but tolerates drought once established; mowing lawn too short. Common in thinning lawns that are in poor condition.

In general, wild violets are native and they do have wildlife value. They are the larval food source for fritillary butterflies.

Management - lawns

Cultural control: Maintain healthy, dense turf that can compete and prevent weed establishment. Plant groundcovers in areas where grass will not grow. 
Mechanical control: Hand pulling or using an appropriate weeding tool are the primary means of mechanical weed control in lawns. This is a viable option at the beginning of an infestation and on young weeds. Hand pulling when the soil is moist makes the task easier. Weeds with tap roots like dandelions or have a basal rosette (leaves clustered close to the ground) like plantain are easier to pull than weeds such as Bermudagrass (wiregrass) or creeping Charlie (ground ivy) that spread with stolons or creeping stems that root along the ground.
General chemical control: (lawns) Spot treat weeds with a liquid, selective, postemergent, broadleaf weed killer applied when weeds are actively growing. Look for a product with the following active ingredient: Triclopyr. Wild violet is hard to control because it is resistant to most common lawn herbicides. Immature plants are most susceptible to herbicide applications. Mature plants frequently require two or more herbicide treatments at 21 to 28 day intervals, in the spring and/ or fall.

Organic control

For a glossary of herbicide terms and additional information see: control options     




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