Wild violets

gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)May 21, 2008

Does anything exist that will actually kill wild violets? Nothing I have tried works. Not even Roundup. Not even horticultural vinegar. They'll yellow and look sickly for a few weeks, but not completely die, then come back like they were never sprayed.

I've tried weed killers (Bayer Advanced All in One Weed Killer for Lawns and Ortho Weed B Gone Max) that state on the label that they will kill wild violets, and it hasn't happened yet.

I hate those damn weeds! They spread by seeds, and by their tuberous roots. I had some grub damage, and the grass in that area was dead, but guess what survived just fine? Wild violets! When I dug them up, they had grubs feeding in their roots, but they were still going strong!

If I only had a few, I'd just dig them all up. However, they've spread all over my lawn, and I want to find something to get rid of them. Is there such a product sold???


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My wife has fond memories of picking wild violets from her lawn and giving them to her mother. When the wild violets appeared here our first year, she expressly forbade me from ever doing anything to harm them, much less kill them. Is there any chance you can convince your wife they're desirable in the lawn?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 1:37AM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)

NO! They spread into the flower beds as well, and they are not welcome there!

1 Like    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 7:43AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I have read some lists about violets. The only person who was happy with his eradication used mechanical means. He pulled up his entire garden to get at the dense mat of violet roots just under the surface. Then he discarded all of them and started his lawn over again.

Repeated roundup might do it. Repeat until they are gone.

One oddball thing you might try - I've heard of this being used against nutgrass but never anything else. Mix a cup of molasses or table sugar in a gallon of water and pour it in one spot. Then watch that spot for a few weeks and see if there is any difference in the weed or the grass. At this point you are probably willing to try anything.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 10:18AM
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Don't mind them in the lawn, but they can become a downright nuisance in the flower beds. All I do is pull the little critters out by handfuls, but the larger clumps are just so darn beautiful that I don't have the heart to. Nothing like laying down a layer of wonderful compost mulch and in a couple of days see all these tiny violet babies smilin' up at ya'! Yikes.
I use Roundup when there's an invasion between my stones in the courtyard.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 10:40AM
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Wild violets, and creeping charlie, should be treated with the 'Smith & Wesson' method. Smith & Wesson, the revolver people. You have seen that 'humorous' sign, on fences or trees, that says 'Tresspassers Will Be Shot. Survivors Will Be Shot Again.'

Treat wild violets, and creeping charlie, the same way. Weed B Gone works just fine, but here's the deal: you have to do it EVERY seven days. Spray every Saturday. There will be some survivors, even though it looks like it's dying. Hit it again. If it's raining on Saturday, do it on Sunday. But you have to understand that violets, and creeping charlie, are quite different from clover, or dandelions, and considerably more durable. Shoot it again. Every seven days. You'll know when to quit. (But you may NOT quit before four applications, a week apart).

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 9:34PM
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reelman(Zone 7 AL)

Last year I planted a dense shade mix of grass to try to overtake the violets. I was mainly trying to keep the soil from eroding on a shady slope. I watered and fertilized and the grass was looking good, then that drought hit, most of the grass died and the violets took over like crazy. Now the violets are my erosion control. This is a lesson in what not to do. I couldn't beat them, so now they are my friends. They grow better than anything in the shade, control my erosion and are extremely drought tolerant. I just wished they bloomed longer.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 12:43AM
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Use Confront or Elim D will kill them...

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 2:47PM
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two_cycle_nut(Z6 Sw-Pa)

I have had goood results from Speed Zone.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 7:11PM
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Just try to ignore them -- best approach!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2008 at 12:04AM
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Because one of my neighbours decided to befriend and not treat these hardy invasive plants I and many of my neighbours no longer have grass after last years drought. This plant will over take any plant in it's path choking it out. I would never have suggested chemicals a few years ago but today I am all for it's use on these plants. If my one neighbour would have done this when they first appeared in her garden it would have been a less severe treatment, environmentally speaking, than several of us all using chemicals to kill them off in our yards.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 10:09AM
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Turflon ester has been effective for me. I have drastically reduced those darn wild violets, but not eliminated them. Turflon ester will kill bermuda grass in the areas you spray, but bermuda is so resilient, it quickly spreads from surrounding areas to fill in.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 10:59AM
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The violets in my yard/neighbrhood have been there since, at least, the 20's. The neighbor to the right of me has lived in his house since it was built in '28 and remembers them always being there. Unfortunately, the retired gentleman to the left of me has had a professional lawn care service spraying his yard/fairway for the last 5 years and he regularly hand sprays the violets on the boarder of our yards; making me feel like a horrible neighbor. I have tried various products on the violets every year with no success. In fact, they seem to get healthier. This year will be different. I rented a ditch witch and cut a trench around the entire perimeter of my property. Today, is judgement day for the violets. They WILL die in a controlled burn. I feel like George must have felt, as he took that last walk with Lenny in, "Of Mice and Men"....and a bit like the groundskeeper in Caddyshack. What's the worst that can happen?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 10:47AM
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andy10917(NY 6a)

I have had success against wild violets for over 10 years, although because I am surrounded by a woods that is full of them on three sides, they always make an effort to re-establish themselves. I get lots of practice! Some states allow Confront (which contains both Trichlopyr and Chlopyralid) and others don't --- Chlopyralid is persistent in compost piles. Contront is the gold-standard against wild violets though. Products containing 8% Trichlopyr work well if you're persistent (that's what I have to use). I hit them every 10 days, even when they're hurting. I have found that mechanical attacks on them can actually spread them, where I live. Don't even bother with WBG Max which has 1.5% Trichlopyr - you'll be able to hear the violets laugh at you. 8% Trichlopyr can be found in Ortho's CHickweed, Clover and Oxalis Killer and also Ortho's Brush-B-Gone. The same product works on Ground Ivy too. Persistence is the key. If you use Confront, keep treated materials out of your compost pile.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 12:59PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I think clopyralid is off the market. Certainly it is off the homeowner market. The problem is that it does not degrade for years under normal soil conditions. It can even be eaten by livestock and it persists in their manure and in compost made from the manure. It is the herbicide that keeps on going. The problem with that is that compost made from manure eaten by cattle that ate grass sprayed with clopyralid will kill trees, shrubs, and almost all plants except grass for years and years.

However Brush-B-Gone is easy to find and has no clopyralid in it. I've not heard anything terrible about trichlopyr and I've been listening.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 6:50PM
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I have had more than a few battles with Charlie in the grass. Weedbe gone has a blend for it. Hit it every week for a month. In between hitting the ones you know about, take a walk around mid week and see if you missed any (you will be able to tell) hit those new ones too.

If you have a lot of this stuff you will need to buy a 2 gallon sprayer and mix the stuff up in bulk. Its better than bending over each time you want to spray and much cheaper too.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 7:20PM
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andy10917(NY 6a)


Clopyralid is still "general use" in some states.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 8:13PM
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Regarding the Ortho Oxalis / Chickweed killer - has anyone seen it for sale recently at HD?

Based on other internet research that informed me about the "wonders" of Trichlopyr (sp?), it worked great. WBG that I applied this year (not the max, so it's a year+ old) - not so great - will need repeated applications. Tough to do though with a dog and 2 year old.

Which leads back to my original question - I haven't seen the Oxalis / Chickweek concentrate for sale in HD, nor in a Walmart the few times I can get to one.



    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 6:56PM
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andy10917(NY 6a)

I haven't had trouble getting it up here in NY.

Pssst! Lean real close to the screen so I can tell you a secret without anyone else hearing it: Ortho's Brush-B-Gon Poison Ivy Killer is the same 8% Trichlopyr. Check the label.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 9:35PM
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Jane Rafferty

All this work to get rid of something I cherish. I just moved a clump of violets and carefully mulched and watered them. It's odd how one man's flower is another man's weed...?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 7:27AM
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Thanks for the advice. I stopped in a local garden center this morning, and lo and behold, there was the clover/oxalis killer. Maybe they were just out last month when I was there - serves me right for not taking the time to ask.

I did a comparison between the clover/oxalis and the poison ivy killer (formerly known as brush-b-gon), and of course, you were right - 8% on each. No other active ingredients. So what's the difference? The PI killer has all sorts of overspray warnings (not suitable for lawn use - non-discriminate herbicide, etc.), whereas the Ch/C/O killer only says not to use it on St. Aug and I think Bermuda (whoops - sorry Mr. Bermuda, didn't mean to make you stop invading from my neighbors yard, I'll really be more careful where I spray - oops, sorry, trigger finger spasm, didn't mean it that time either...).

So more Ortho marketing shenanigans, or a different formulation that isn't being marked/labeled appropriately? Only difference I could find is the application rate (1 oz/gal/200 sf vs. 4 oz/gal/100 sf (dense brush) or 4 oz/gal/400 sf (light brush). (added in previous sentence after additional research but before posting, so I may have answered my own question, but decided to leave in links below for anyone interested)
Label 1: http://www.scotts.com/smg/products/ortho/weed_killers/weeds_in_lawn/pdf/WBGChickweedCloverOxalis_042009.pdf
Label 2: http://www.scotts.com/smg/products/ortho/weed_killers/poison_ivy_and_tough_brush/pdf/PITBConc_042009.pdf

Well, at least the fertilizer I use is organic.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 5:12PM
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andy10917(NY 6a)


Ahem! I assure you I was never whispered to by that nice garden center owner 10 years ago that Brush-B-Gon was good for Wild Violet control, and legal for lawns in some states. It just wasn't "registered" in my state for that use, although it was registered for brush killing. Some accidentally fell on Wild Violets on my property and the violets died with no damage to nearby grass. Phew!!! Unfortunately, I couldn't share my learning on lawn forums for fear of doing 10-20 years of hard time for unlawful weed murder.

I'm like you - I shake my head that great marketing gets away with what they do. I still can't believe that Scott's gets away with selling grass seed that is only 48% grass seed (by calling fluff coatings "special science"). And the EZ-Seed stuff is just 8% seed. I guess people that don't read labels deserved to get fleeced.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 11:16PM
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Reviving this thread. So I have a backyard that is over-run with this pesky weed. I had thought about spraying the yard with RoundUp. Concern described below has prevented this, though.

Based on what I'm seeing above, RU won't work. Between that and one other small (or rather large, actually) issue I don't know what to do to get rid of the wild violets. I have a VERY large silver maple in the back yard. Roots running along the surface of the lawn. I assume that anything I do apply is going to harm the tree.

Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 9:32PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Round up should only hurt the tree is you spray the tree. It is a contact type material. Spray the leaves of the target weed and it takes it to the roots of that plant only.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 1:51PM
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gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)


What I found that will work is a product called Spurge Power. Not cheap stuff, but it won't hurt your tree. The best time to spray is late March when they're first coming out, because that's when they'll be most vulnerable. Plus, you want to get them before they flower, because then they're spreading seed. It will likely take multiple sprayings, and you'll have to do it for the next few years as seed germinates.

What works best of all is digging them up. You can't just pull them by hand b/c they have tuberous roots that will stay in the ground and resprout. You need to use a tool. They are a pain, and are quite prolific!


    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 2:08PM
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The problem with wild violets is that they are a woody plant, unlike your average weed, so it takes a combination including brush killer to kill them. To kill Wild Violets, mix 4 oz. of Brush-B-Gon with 1 oz. Weed-B-Gon into a gallon of water. Spray in the evening with no rain in the forecast using a handpump sprayer. This won't harm your grass. Also, always bag weeds to make sure you're not putting seeds right back into the ground for the following year.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 12:41PM
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Imprelis Herbicide will kill wild violets with one application at the recommended rate. However, you won't find it at Home Depot or Lowe's. Better check your local John Deere store.

Here is a link that might be useful: Imprelis

    Bookmark   April 10, 2011 at 2:59PM
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Auteck, I've read some interesting stuff on Imprelis. Do you know much about the product? Can it be applied by a homeowner using a 2gal pump sprayer??

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 4:15PM
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andy10917(NY 6a)

There are now numerous treatments for Wild Violets. CCO Killer. Imprelis. Certainty (not for TTTF). Tenacity. You're not going to find Tenacity, Certainty or Imprelis at the big-box stores though. This isn't a fair fight anymore - we now have the advantage.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 10:18AM
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Viola papilionacea is native to north america unlike so many other horrible invasive species. I welcome them to my yard. They are beautiful, hardy, and attractive. I cant understand why anyone would want them gone.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 2:13PM
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andy10917(NY 6a)

Rats are native, too - but I don't invite them into my house.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 11:39PM
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Weed b gon works, you just have to be patient and keep hitting them every week like a previous poster said.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 4:12PM
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Did you know these accursed weeds are the Wisconsin state flower? I was hoping to find something on this site to kill them with extreme prejudice.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 3:07PM
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Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858-1954, cofounder of the American Horticultural Society and one of the premier horticulturalists of his era, was once asked by a gardening enthusiast, "Oh Professor Bailey, what do I do about dandilions?" to which Bailey replied, "Madam, you must learn to love them!" That advice seems good for wild violets.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 12:15PM
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Mystery solved. I've been struggling with wild violets for nearly a decade in two different homes in Virginia. I've been pulling them out by hand...reseeding every year...using copious amounts of Roundup...nothing ever worked. Until now. See, God recently blessed me with an invasion of nutgrass/nutsedge. I found a new product called Ortho Nutsedge Killer available at Home Depot. They only sell it in small spray, 24 ounce containers. When I sprayed on the nutsedge, I noticed the following day that the wild violets looked worse. I sprayed on again on the wild violets - and voila, it killed them and not the grass! At least it hasn't killed the grass so far. I'm delighted and finally at peace.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ortho's Nutsedge Website

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 7:35PM
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Interesting thread. Like mentioned before, Tenacity, is labeled for it. Methylated Seed Oil is an important adjuvant, I believe. Quinclorac is also rated for it.

I was talking with another lawn care pro a couple of weeks ago and he said that Imprelis totally (I think in a big way) wiped out the wild violets in just one application. That was when Imprelis was getting popular. He had some significant tree damage on that property (it's quite large), and obviously Imprelis is out of the question now, but maybe they will figure out a way to reformulate it.

Glad the Ortho stuff worked for you!

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 9:39PM
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I had no idea that wild violets were considered invasive. I have always loved them.
Bought some violet, white and yellow plants and white seeds.
We have a lawn care service that killed all of our grass so I wanted some thing would survive.
I have such great memories that include violets.
My wedding bouquet was white violets

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 4:01PM
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