Blue violet is known by several names, such as common blue violet or white violet. You may not have known what you were looking at, but almost everyone has seen this broadleaf weed in their yard or out at a park or wherever else grass grows. Their attractive flowers can fool you into thinking they should be welcomed guests in your yard, but the truth is that blue violet is one of the last things homeowners want to see sprouting up in their lawns. Heartland Turf & Landscape has assembled this guide to common blue violets so that you can identify this lawn weed and take action to prevent it from growing or spreading in your lawn this season!
You have likely walked right past and looked at blue violet many times without even knowing it. What looks like a pleasant flower is actually an invasive lawn weed that must be properly identified in order to remove it. You can most easily identify common blue violets by their blueish-purple color (occasionally white), but there are a number of other characteristics that can help you spot this pesky weed.
Blue violets can range from 2 to 10 inches in height, but most plants will be about 4 to 6 inches in height when fully matured. Most varieties tend to have small yellow centers/seed pods surrounded by 5 hairy petals. The flowers may be solid-colored or speckled, so differentiating blue violet from similar types of flowering weeds can be accomplished more easily by looking at the shape of the flowers and the surrounding leaves.
Aside from the bright colors of blue violet flowers, an easy way to identify this weed is by looking at the number of flower petals at the end of each short stem. You will notice 5 petals arranged with 2 on top and 3 on the bottom. Additionally, the petals are usually described as slightly droopy or angled downward. The leaves of blue violet weeds are famously heart-shaped with scalloped edges, and they will have a glossy or waxy appearance. Identifying these heart-shaped leaves is a great way to catch a blue violet invasion before the plant can drop more seeds.
Look For These In Your Lawn:
Blue violet, otherwise known as Viola sororia, does produce flowers and belongs to the same family as many other flowers, such as the garden-favorite pansies. However, because of their invasive weeds and unhealthy rate of growth, blue violet is not something you want to see growing in your yard, especially if you did not intend for it to be there. Unlike other flowers that develop healthy roots and growth habits, blue violet has shallow roots that will crowd and overtake the roots of your desired garden flowers. Be sure to stay on the lookout for common blue violet popping up in your garden, as ignoring them or misidentifying them as healthy flowers could have disastrous results for the rest of your garden.
Blue violet can quickly overtake other plants in the lawn and become a dominant weed species. Its leaves and stems create dense mats that prevent sunlight from reaching turfgrass, which causes your lawn to become discolored and thin. Roots of the common blue violet are more shallow than most healthy turfgrass roots, which means that the blue violet weeds in your lawn will absorb any nutrients or moisture that soak into the soil before your lawn can access them. The roots of this weed are the real troublemakers in lawns and yards because they branch out by way of thick underground rhizomes and runners, and your desired turfgrass will struggle to grow as a result.
Blue violets are perennial weeds, meaning they will continue to come back year after year if they are not eradicated. In fact, a single blue violet weed can live for more than 10 years in ideal conditions. The flowers bloom with the weed matures, which is usually sometime between April and July in our area. They tend to prefer cooler temperatures, so the flowers will fade during the hottest days of summer. In fall, the seedpod will drop seeds down into the soil, and the seeds will germinate and emerge again during the following spring.
Wild blue violets grow all over the United States, and they are most commonly found in moist areas of full sun or partial shade, such as near streams and ponds or at the edges of woodlands. In residential lawns, you can expect to find blue violets in areas that are not heavily shaded by trees or other obstructions. They prefer well-draining soil that is rich in nutrients. The rhizomes they produce in the soil help spread the invasion to areas that may be nowhere near an existing weed in your lawn, which is why it is so important to know how to control a blue violet invasion.
Both seed dispersal and root expansion help blue violet spread its invasion. Blue violet is self-seeding, meaning it does not require a pollinator in order to produce and spread seeds. The seeds of this weed are dispersed through a projectile ejection from the seed capsules in late summer or early fall. In addition to seed dispersal, the shallow and fibrous roots of blue violet develop rhizomes that will spread underground, often going undetected until they sprout new vegetation in your lawn and yard. The growth and development of this new vegetation are often described as “colonies” due to the dense grouping of blue violet as it spreads.
Unfortunately, blue violets have some of the hardiest roots you are likely to encounter, so pulling them up is not typically advisable. The rhizomes in the soil are so sturdy that they will stay in place even if the entire plant is removed above the surface, and a new plant will simply re-emerge from the remaining root fragments. Maintaining a dense lawn is a good place to start when it comes to controlling this lawn weed, and below are some useful tips to keep in mind for controlling blue violet in your Kansas City lawn through this growing season:
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