I love purple! It’s hands down one of my favorite colors. I like purple clothes, purple ornaments, purple carpets, and I’m especially fond of purple flowers. Hell, I even have a large area in my yard dedicated to lavender! But even I understand that there’s such a thing as too much purple.
If you’ve started to notice something of a purple surplus in your garden as of late, it might be time to take action, but it’ll help to know what it is exactly that you’re fighting against first.
Unfortunately, as many weeds have purple blooms, identifying the ones taking residence in your yard can be troublesome. Not to worry, though, friend. Consider this your ultimate guide to all things purple in your back green.
We’ll be discussing four of the most common purple plant interlopers around, how to keep them under control, and if necessary, how to rid your yard of them altogether. Sound good? Awesome. Let’s get to it!
The Usual Suspects – 4 Common Weeds With Purple Flowers
If we were to run through every single weed with purple flowers, you’d be here all day, giving those purple perpetrators more time to spread throughout your lovely yard. So, to keep things sweet and snappy, let’s take a look at the most common floral trespassers.
- Creeping Charlie (also sometimes referred to as Ground Ivy).
- Purple Deadnettle
- Wild Violet
Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of these invasive culprits, we’re going to be addressing them one at a time, so you know exactly what you’re dealing with! But before we dive into some violaceous details, let’s talk some general weed control basics.
Pernicious Purples And How To Kill them
I’d always recommend trying to deal with weeds organically at first. Avoiding herbicides will help to keep the soil fertile for intentional cultivation later on and will help to keep surrounding plant life in tip-top shape.
Hand pulling is exactly what it sounds like. You get a good grip, low down on the stem of the weed, and yank it from the earth; however, some weeds root deeply, so you may have to use a trowel to get up underneath them as you pull.
Hand pulling is a very physical solution, meaning for some, it’s not a viable option. Instead, you can keep things organic by using a vinegar solution as a natural weed killer. The recipe for this deadly yet eco-friendly concoction is 1-gallon of white spirit vinegar, 1 cup of salt, and one tablespoon of dish soap.
Do bear in mind, though, that this solution may only kill surface vegetation, allowing roots to continue growing, and should you exhaust your organic options, it may be time to bring out the big guns.
Herbicides enter the plant’s system through the leaves, and attack on all fronts — roots ‘n’ all!
Most purple blooming weeds are categorized as broadleaf plants, which means you’ll be best off using Dicamba herbicide, such as this Southern Ag solution. Notice that it’s advertised for treating broadleaf weeds specifically. That’s what you should keep an eye out for.
Herbicides are poisonous to humans too, so it’s important that you cover your skin and eyes when spraying, and always wear some sort of breathing filter. Something like this Kischers safety set will be perfect.
Common Weeds With Purple Flowers – Creeping Charlie
Creeping Charlie At A Glance
Despite often being referred to as ground ivy, Creeping Charlie actually belongs to the mint family. It’s a broadleaf weed that starts life as a small shrub around 1-inch in height.
It sprouts numerous deep green leaves similar in hue to that of its spearmint cousin, but they tend to be quite squat, with rounded instead of spiky margins — pretty cute, right?
Well, it’s not long before that adorable little plant sends its reaching tendrils and leaves out across wider areas — body snatcher style. It’ll block the sunlight from reaching anything it covers, slowly choking out competing plant life.
It often goes unaddressed due to its pretty, blue-magenta Spring blooms that attract all sorts of bees, but if given half the chance, this lawn weed will grow across your entire yard, killing every blade of grass in its path.
To make matters worse, Creeping Charlie is an amazingly resilient weed with very little vulnerability to pests or disease, which means if you don’t take action, it will grow uncontested and ruin your yard.
It’s a shame to remove a plant that supports bee activity, but as long as you have plenty of other bee-friendly plants in your garden, you can oust this purple menace with a clean conscience.
Where Does Creeping Charlie Grow?
It’s not just near invulnerability to pests and disease that make Creeping Charlie one tough customer, but the fact it can survive in zones 2–12, which is basically…everywhere.
It loves highly fertile, moist soil and thrives in partial sun. Far more likely to infest lawns that are already displaying a certain amount of disrepair, the best defense is to take great care of your grass. A strong lawn maintenance routine is absolutely key — we’re talking mowing, fertilizing, and watering just the right amount.
Getting Rid Of Creeping Charlie?
Organic Methods – If you’re looking to keep things as clean and green as possible, you have two options. You can try to starve the Creeping Charlie by covering it with a tarp, blocking any sunlight or moisture from reaching it. Unfortunately, though, there will be some collateral damage. Anything that the Creeping Charlie has grown over or amongst will also die.
If you’re only dealing with a small infestation, your best bet is to put in the elbow grease and do some hand pulling. It doesn’t root deeply, so it’s easy to pull, but it does have wide-spreading roots, so do your best not to snap them before you get most of it up.
Vinegar solutions may not be potent enough for Creeping Charlie.
Herbicide – Creeping Charlie is so dang robust that in some instances, it will survive herbicide, even those designed specifically for tackling broadleaf weeds. The reason being, there’s a lot going on underneath the surface with these hardy weeds. Their wide-spreading rhizomes can be tricky for toxins to reach.
That said, as long as you use a high-quality Dicamba weed killer, it should close the casket on this irksome weed fairly efficiently.
Common Weeds With Purple Flowers – Purple Deadnettle
Purple Deadnettle at a Glance
Believe it or not, Purple Deadnettle (Lamium Purpureum), is another member of the mint family — talk about some bad apples, huh?
It grows pleasant, pinky-purple flowers, but before it blooms, you’ll notice the distinct purple hue of its upper leaves above the greener foliage. With their triangular shape and spiky margins, Purple Deadnettle leaves are reminiscent of spearmint leaves. The upper leaves of younger plants can even be eaten like spearmint, and are often used to garnish salads or to season sauces.
Although the upper part of the plant is densely populated with leaves and, eventually, flowers, the lower section of the squared stalk is completely bare.
As Purple Deadnettles can thrive year-round, they’re a fantastic resource to bees when other seasonal sources of nectar run dry, so getting rid of them can weigh heavy on the soul. But, again, as long as you kit your yard out with plenty of other bee-friendly vegetation, you’ve nothing to worry about.
Where Does Purple Deadnettle Grow?
The strange thing about Purple Deadnettle is that gardens are usually a little too high-brow for them. They much prefer dingier, wild environments such as fallow fields, woodland edges, and drainage areas.
Their propensity to grow in such unkempt locations means that they’re less likely to show up in your yard than Creeping Charlie, but living close enough to one of its preferred areas is usually all it takes for this mint family member to develop ideas above its station.
If you often mulch, use drip irrigation, or mix water-absorbing materials into your soil, your chances of developing an unhealthy Purple Deadnettle infestation skyrocket, as these are some thirsty little plants that absolutely adore moisture!
They’re not as bold as Creeping Charlie in that they tend not to infest your central lawn, rather, they’ll sneak around the edges, out of the way, hoping not to draw too much unwanted attention.
Getting Rid Of Purple Deadnettle
Time is of the essence when it comes to this winter annual. You need to get rid of it before spring hits, and it starts producing seeds, otherwise, you’re looking at a more severe infestation.
Organic – To prevent this distinctive weed from squatting in your yard, you should try tilling perimeter areas towards the end of fall and then once more when Spring comes around. You could give soil solarization a go too if you’re feeling adventurous.
Solarization involves mulching the problem area and covering it with a transparent tarp. The tarp collects and stores solar energy, increasing the heat of the soil and disinfecting it of troublesome pollutants such as fungi, bacteria, nematodes, mite pests, insects, and, you’ve guessed it…weeds.
Pulling them by hand is also an option, but such an activity can be tough on the back if the infestation is already quite severe.
Herbicide – Purple Deadnettle isn’t as brave in the face of chemicals as Creeping Charlie, so herbicide is definitely an option. Just make sure you spray it early on, as if it’s given the time to bloom, you’ll inevitably witness wider infestation.
Common Weeds with Purple Flowers – Henbit
Henbit At A Glance
Henbit (Lamium Amplexicaule) and Purple Deadnettle is often confused, but they’re actually very different weeds. While they both have a dual-section, squared stem, Henbit leaves are much rounder, with deep lobes and no definite apex.
The eagle-eyed green thumbs out there will also pick up on the fact that the upper leaves of Henbit don’t rely on petioles to connect them to the stalk, rather, they protrude directly from it.
One last difference of note is that although Purple Deadnettle leaves do have hair, they don’t have the fuzzy appearance of Henbit leaves.
Where Does Henbit Grow?
One of the reasons Henbit and Purple Deadnettle are often erroneously mistaken for one another is that they have largely the same habitat. They are most commonly found around the edges of a yard, in fallow fields, and the edges of buildings.
In light of this, you can breathe a sigh of relief that your lawn is not at stake here, or if it is, at least you know the intruder isn’t Henbit, narrowing your list of suspects down a little.
Native to the Mediterranean region, you’d be forgiven for thinking this weed needed hot weather to thrive, but that’s not the case. It’s now a key part of plant ecosystems worldwide, providing bees, birds, and foraging animals with sustenance during the punishing winter months.
Getting Rid Of Henbit
Is Henbit a vital part of the landscape, yes, but don’t feel bad about wanting rid, as it’s a very common weed. If bees don’t find it in your yard, they’ll find it in a million other places.
As is the case with Purple Deadnettle, you need to act fast to keep your Henbit infestation under control. If it’s allowed to seed in early spring, it’s too late.
Organic – Small patches of Henbit can be pulled from the ground fairly easily, but make sure you’re disposing of the plants rather than leaving them as fertilizer, otherwise, they’ll still seed.
In larger cases of Henbit havoc, you should try the same tilling schedule that we discussed as a remedy to a Purple Deadnettle invasion — that’s late fall and early spring.
Herbicide – Your standard Dicamba herbicide will work a treat on Henbit, but make sure you spray it early, just as spring hits. Once those lovely purple flowers see the light of day, no amount of chemicals will stave off further spread.
Common Weeds With Purple Flowers – Wild Violet
Wild Violet At A Glance
With its deep green, love-heart shaped leaves, delicate stems, and gorgeous purple flowers, no one could argue that Wild Violet is a treat for the eyes, but as it has a tendency to spread at an alarming rate via two means of proliferation, it can be a real pain in the yard!
Where Does Wild Violet Grow
While Wild Violet loves a good drink, once it reaches maturity, it’s more than tough enough to handle the odd drought, which means it can grow in any number of environments, including our lawns.
They’ll start somewhere shady, but utilizing both dispersal and underground rhizomes for propagation, they’ll be popping up all over the shop in no time at all.
They’re also incredibly adaptable little so-and-sos, capable of physically reacting to an environment. For example, it may stunt its own growth to avoid the blades of a mower, buying enough time to form flowers and spread its seeds via wind and rain.
Getting Rid Of Wild Violet
Organic – If you plan to don your gardening gloves and shake hands with each and every wild violet in your yard, that’s perfectly fine, but make sure you’re getting up as much of the rhizomes as possible, and dispose of the waste.
It may take a couple of sessions to eradicate it, so prepare yourself for a battle!
Herbicide – A strong herbicide will also get the job done; however, it may take a couple of treatments, and as they can spring up anywhere, you’ll need to be wary of run-off harming surrounding plant life.
Sometimes Purple Isn’t Pretty!
There you have it, folks; the first step of any yard-based animosity is to know your enemy, and now you know yours like the back of your hand!
Whether you’ve got a serious case of the Creeping Charlies, a Purple Deadnettle debacle, a Henbit breach, or a Wild Violet violation, you have the tools to nip it in the bud and regain control of your garden.