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Hort in the Home Landscape

A blog devoted to sharing timely horticulture topics and answering the questions of gardeners and homeowners.
2015-05-01 18 41 47

Flowers in the Lawn- Violets and Henbit

Posted by Candice Hart - Lawn Care

A few weeks ago, lawns were a sea of beautiful blue because of the Siberian Squill blooming. This week while walking through my neighborhood, I noticed a different sea of purplish blues.

One of the culprits was Violets (Viola sp.). I happen to love violets. They are the state flower of Illinois! There are about eight species of blue-flowered violets in Illinois, the most common of these being the dooryard violet (Viola sororia).

Some gardeners don't quite appreciate these aggressive growers in their turf though. Violets have heart shaped leaves and bloom in spring, usually in blue or purple, but may also be white. Unfortunately though, they spread both by underground stems and by seed making them a common problem in lawns where they can grow below the height of the grass.

The best control option is to maintain a thick lawn by proper lawn care practices. Unfortunately, grass can be less competitive in the shadier conditions that violets can thrive in. Violets can be dug or applied with a postemergence broadleaf herbicide to get under control.

You can learn more about controlling violets on our Lawn Talk website.



The other blue/purple flower in lawns this week is Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule). Henbit is a winter annual occasionally found in lawns in early spring. The lower leaves have a stalk while the upper leaves clasp the stem. Stems are square, like other members of the mint family. All the leaves are coarsely toothed and opposite from each other. Flowers appear in May and are about one-half inch long, trumpet-shaped, pinkish white to purple, and form just above upper leaves.

Henbit can quickly invade thin turf areas especially where there is good soil moisture and shade may also encourage growth. Like with violets, a dense, vigorous turf is the best way to reduce the encroachment of these winter annual weeds. First, select adapted turfgrass cultivars for your area and then properly fertilize, mow, and water to encourage dense growth.

Henbit can also be hand pulled from moist soils or broadleaf herbicides can be applied. Controlling seed production is the key to controlling annual weeds though. Early bloomers need to be removed now before they set seed and pre-emergent herbicides can be applied in the late summer.


Henbit can sometimes be confused with Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea), another common turf weed. Check out Sandy Mason's Blog for more information about differentiating the two.

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