Invasive African violets and dogs

Asked May 27, 2020, 2:14 PM EDT

This is my pet Dogs enclosure. She does eat grass at times, Although I have not seen her try to eat the Violet's. I would like to know how to get rid of this invasive plant. Trying to dig them out is difficult and I don't want to use dangerous chemicals. Help! Thank you, Sandy Hogan

Shiawassee County Michigan

1 Response

The weed in the photo is common blue violet (Viola papilionacea). Common blue violet is a common perennial weed species found in home lawns and gardens.

Common blue violet can be removed by hand, but it is critical to get all of the underground structures so that it does not reemerge from roots and rhizomes. Given the plant density in this photo this is probably not a very realistic option, but it can help overtime with diligence.

Tillage is problematic as it can cut and spread the root system around, spreading the infestation.

Tarping the area for an extended period of time to starve the plants from light could be effective, but often for perennials this could take multiple seasons and is likely not desirable for your dog’s enclosure.

Control of common blue violet may be also be achieved with herbicides and if used properly they can be safe to use around pets. The best herbicide would be one containing the active ingredient triclopyr (e.g. Ortho Weed B Gon Chickweed, Clover and Oxalis Killer). This product can be used in lawns and in ornamental plantings, or bareground areas like you have here. This herbicide does not affect grass species, but you should use caution around desirable broadleaf species to avoid injury. As with any pesticide application, it is important to read and follow all labeled instructions. The label for this Ortho product states that people and pets can reenter the area after the product is dried, but if you want to be extra cautions you could keep your dog out of the area for the whole day. There is a lot of testing that goes on when herbicides (and other pesticides) are registered with the EPA, including hazards to domestic animals. You can read more about that at the National Pesticide Information Center if you're interested at

Repeated treatments may be necessary due to the density of the population. Though treatment can be effective any time plants are actively growing, late-August to September applications are often the most effective time to treat herbaceous perennials as the herbicide is more easily moved into the root system with the natural flow of carbohydrates as plants prepare for winter.

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