Identify purple seed headed lawn weed

The Only Weed Identification Guide You’ll Ever Need: 33 Common Weedy Plants to Watch For

Don’t let these pesky plants crash your garden party! The first step is to know your enemy. Then you’ll know the best way to deal with your weed problem.

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What is a Weed, Anyway?

A weed can be any plant growing where you don’t want it to. However, there are some particularly weedy species to keep an eye out for. These aggressive plants not only make your yard look messy, they can also choke out the garden plants you’ve worked so hard to grow. Whether you’re trying to identify lawn weeds or garden weeds, this handy guide will help you identify more than 30 common weeds by photo, plus give you tips for how to best remove them.

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Dandelion

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: 12 inches tall, 6 – 16 inches wide

Where It Grows: Lawns and gardens in sun or shade

Appearance: This common lawn weed has a long taproot; leaves are deeply notched. Yellow flowers mature into puffballs. Dandelion seeds are like parachutes that fly away in the wind, helping them invade new spaces in lawns and garden beds.

Weed Control Tips: Mulch to prevent dandelions in gardens. Pull dandelion weeds by hand or treat lawns with a broadleaf herbicide, which won’t kill grass.

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Oxalis

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: To 20 inches tall

Where It Grows: Sunny or shady landscape, lawn, or garden areas

Appearance: This garden weed has light green leaves that look a little like clover and cup-shape yellow flowers in summer and fall.

Weed Control Tips: Mulch garden areas in spring to prevent weeds. Pull oxalis weeds by hand or spray weeds with a broadleaf herbicide in spring or fall.

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Crabgrass

Type: Grassy annual

Size: To 18 inches tall and 20 inches wide

Where It Grows: Lawn, landscape, and garden areas in sun or shade

Appearance: Crabgrass is exactly what it sounds like: A grassy weed. This lawn weed grows roots anywhere the stem makes soil contact. Seed heads spread out like four fingers.

Control: Use a preemergence weed preventer to prevent seeds from sprouting, pull crabgrass by hand, or spot-treat with a nonselective herbicide if growing in sidewalk cracks or other places where nothing else is growing.

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Bindweed

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: Climbs 6 feet or more

Where It Grows: Landscape and garden areas in sun

Appearance: Identify this garden weed by its arrowhead-shape leaves on twining vines. Bindweed also produces white to pale pink morning glory-type flowers.

Control: Mulch your garden to prevent bindweed. Repeatedly pull or cut down growing bindweed plants and/or spot treat with a nonselective herbicide designed to kill roots, not just above-ground growth.

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White Clover

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: 8-10 inches tall, 12 inches wide

Where It Grows: Lawn, landscape, and garden areas in sun to partial shade

Appearance: White clover has three-lobe leaves and round white flower clusters. The plants quickly spread outward to form dense mats of foliage.

Control: Mulch your garden beds to prevent white clover in landscape areas. Use an iron-based herbicide to get rid of clover growing in lawns or dig out the weeds in garden beds.

Test Garden Tip: Clover adds nitrogen to the soil plus the flowers feed many pollinators so some gardeners use this plant to create a more environmentally friendly lawn.

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Nutsedge

Type: Grass-like perennial

Size: 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide

Where It Grows: Lawn, landscape, or garden areas in sun or shade

Appearance: Nutsedge has slender, grassy leaves, triangular stems, and small, nutlike tubers on the root system. When these weeds pop up in lawns, they often grow faster than turf grass, so they are easy to spot.

Control: Mulch garden areas in spring to help prevent nutsedge. Plants are easy to pull up by hand, but it will take repeated weeding to get rid of an infestation. Various herbicides are labeled for use on nutsedge in lawns but it is important to use the right one for the type of turf grass you have to avoid damaging it.

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Creeping Charlie

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: 4 inches tall, several feet wide

Where It Grows: Shady lawn, landscape, or garden areas

Appearance: Identify this lawn weed and groundcover by its scalloped leaves, creeping stems, and clusters of purple flowers in late spring.

Control: Mulch garden areas in spring to prevent creeping charlie. Pull plants by hand or spray with a postemergence herbicide in spring or fall.

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Lamb’s-Quarter

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: To 4 feet tall and 18 inches wide

Where It Grows: Landscape and garden areas in sun or shade

Appearance: Lamb’s-quarter’s scalloped, triangular leaves have gray undersides.

Control: Mulch your garden to prevent lamb’s-quarter. Pull weed plants by hand or use a postemergence herbicide.

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Plantain

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: To 8 inches tall and 12 inches wide

Where It Grows: Moist lawn and garden areas in sun or shade

Appearance: When you’re identifying weeds in your garden, if you spot broad, flat, oval-shape leaves arranged in a low rosette, you’ve likely found a plantain.

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Control: Mulch to prevent plantains growing in the garden. Pull these weeds by hand or use a postemergence herbicide in lawns.

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Dayflower

Type: Annual grass relative

Size: To 30 inches tall and wide

Where It Grows: Sunny or shady landscape areas

Appearance: Dayflowers have dark green leaves sprouting from a stem and brilliant blue flowers through the summer.

Control: Mulch the garden to prevent weeds or use a preemergence herbicide in spring. Pull weeds by hand or spot-treat with a nonselective postemergence herbicide.

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Purslane

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: To 6 inches tall and 2 feet wide

Where it grows: Dry, sunny landscape and garden areas

Appearance: Identify this weed groundcover by its fleshy, dark green leaves and small yellow flowers at the ends of the stems.

Control: Mulch your garden to prevent purslane or use a preemergence herbicide in the spring. Pull plants by hand or spot-treat with a nonselective postemergence herbicide.

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Velvetleaf

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: To 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide

Where It Grows: Fertile, sunny landscape and garden areas

Appearance: Velvetleaf gets its name because of its large, velvety heart-shape leaves up to 10 inches across. The weed blooms with yellow flowers in summer.

Weed Control: Mulch your garden to prevent velvetleaf or use a preemergence herbicide in spring. Pull existing plants by hand or use a postemergence herbicide.

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Wild Violet

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: 6 inches tall, 6 inches wide

Where It Grows: Shady lawn, landscape, or garden areas

Appearance: Wild violet is a groundcover with heart-shape leaves and purple flowers in late spring.

Control: Mulch garden beds in spring to prevent wild violet. Pull weeds by hand or spray with a postemergence herbicide in spring or fall.

Test Garden Tip: This plant is sometimes grown as an ornamental in shade gardens.

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Smartweed

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: To 42 inches tall and 30 inches wide

Where It Grows: Sunny landscape and garden areas

Appearance: Identify garden weeds like smartweed by its lance-shape leaves often marked with purple chevrons. It’s an upright plant with pink or white flowers in summer and fall.

Control: To prevent this weed, mulch garden beds in spring. Pull plants by hand or apply a postemergence herbicide once it grows.

Test Garden Tip: This weed is native to areas of North America. Unlike many exotic weeds, it does support local wildlife.

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Quickweed

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: To 2 feet tall and wide

Where It Grows: Sunny landscape and garden areas

Appearance: Quickweed has jagged, hairy leaves and small white daisy-shape flowers in summer.

Control: Use a mulch or a preemergence herbicide in spring to prevent quickweed. If plants do grow, pull them by hand or spot-treat them with a postemergence herbicide.

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Pigweed

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: 6 feet tall, 2 feet wide

Where it grows: Sunny landscape or garden areas

Appearance: Pigweeds are tall plants with a taproot. Identify weeds by their hairy-looking clusters of green flowers (though some varieties are grown as annuals).

Control: Mulch garden areas in spring to prevent pigweed or use a preemergence herbicide in spring. Pull weeds by hand or spray with a postemergence weed killer.

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Canada Thistle

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: To 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide

Where It Grows: Sunny lawn, landscape, or garden areas

Appearance: Canada thistle has spiny, gray-green leaves and purple flowers.

Control: Mulch your garden to prevent it in landscape areas. Use a postemergence herbicide in lawns in spring or fall, or dig the weed out by hand.

Test Garden Tip: Thistle has an extensive root system that can grow several feet out from the main plant.

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Knotweed

Type: Broadleaf annual

Size: To 8 inches tall and 2 feet wide

Where It Grows: Sunny or partly shaded lawn, landscape, or garden areas

Appearance: Knotweed is an invasive groundcover with blue-green leaves sparsely appearing on long stems.

Control: Prevent knotweed with a deep layer of mulch or apply a preemergence herbicide in spring. Once the plant grows, hand-pull or spot-treat it with a nonselective weed killer.

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Pokeweed

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: To 10 feet tall and 2 feet wide

Where It Grows: Sunny landscape or garden areas

Appearance: Identify this garden weed by its light green leaves, clusters of white flowers, and dark purple berries.

Control: Prevent pokeweed with a deep layer of mulch. Once the plant grows, hand-pull or spot-treat it with an herbicide.

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Poison Ivy

Type: Broadleaf perennial

Size: To 15 feet tall and wide

Where It Grows: Sunny or shady landscape or garden areas

Appearance: Poison ivy can be a vine, shrub, or groundcover. The weed has leaves divided into three leaflets and can sprout clusters of green berries.

Control: Prevent poison ivy with a deep layer of mulch. If the weed starts to grow in your yard, spot-treat it with an herbicide or wrap your hand in a plastic bag, pull the plant up, roots and all, and carefully invert the plastic bag around the plant, seal, and throw away.

Test Garden Tip: The plant contains oils that cause a severe allergic skin reaction in many people when touched. These oils are present even on dead leaves and can become airborne and inhaled if the plant is burned.

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What are the Weeds with Purple Flowers Called?

Who doesn’t like pretty purple flowers? In their proper place, purple flowers and the plants that produce them are lovely. However, when they start to over-run your lawn or crowd out the plants in your garden, these purple flowering plants become weeds. To complicate the issue, a number of weeds have purple flowers, so identifying what you’re dealing with in your lawn or garden can be tricky. If you’re asking “What are the weeds with purple flowers called?” I’ve got you. Today I’ll introduce you to the 4 most common weeds with purple-colored flowers and help you understand how to control and eliminate them from your lawn and landscape.

Let’s get into it.

Four Nasty Weeds Bearing Purple Flowers

Honestly, there are a number of harmful weeds that have purple flowers. They’re beautiful, but not when they’re in the wrong place (like your lawn).

The following four weeds with purple flowers are probably the most notorious culprits responsible for invading your landscape:

  • Creeping Charlie (Ground Ivy)
  • Purple Deadnettle
  • Henbit
  • Wild Violet

Let’s take them one at a time so you can identify the purple flower weed in your lawn or garden, but first a word about eliminating these weeds.

How to Kill Purple Flowering Weeds

Hand-pulling is the best organic method for eliminating most weeds, and spraying with a vinegar solution can also work as an organic method.

Herbicides are the most effective method if you’re open to using them. Be sure to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) and follow all safety recommendations from the manufacturer.

Most of the weeds with purple flowers you’ll encounter fall under the “broadleaf weed” category. As such, Dicamba will work to kill most of these plants. I use and recommend this product from Southern Ag. It’s my go-to herbicide for most broadleaf weeds. But you can find effective options locally at hardware and box stores as well. Look for something marked for broadleaf weed control.

Creeping Charlie (Ground Ivy)

What is it?

Creeping Charlie, also known as Ground Ivy, is a broadleaf weed from the mint family. This branching weed grows about one inch high and quickly becomes a low-growing mat of stems and leaves scattered around your yard.

Chances are this fast-spreading weed is the culprit responsible for those purple blooms scattered throughout your yard. Many people battle it in their lawns.

At first glance, Creeping Charlie’s delicately scalloped leaves and blue-violet spring flowers appear to be quite tolerable, but don’t be fooled. Creeping Charlie is a resilient and adaptive vine that can quickly overtake a lawn and kill the turf-grass around it.

Part of this weed’s resilience lies in the fact that it is not vulnerable to pests and diseases. So just hoping it will go away will result in a quickly spreading predator capable of choking the life out of your lawn.

While Ground Ivy is an undesirable weed, its delicate purple flowers have one redeeming quality. In the proper conditions, these blooms attract Honey bees, Bumblebees, and Mason bees. Supporting pollinators is great, but let’s be honest … there are better ways to do it.

Where does it grow?

Creeping Charlie is hardy in zones 2 – 12, making it a nuisance nearly everywhere. Because this weed is exceptionally resilient, it thrives in some of the most unsavory conditions. However, it prefers partial sun and moist, fertile soil.

Like most lawn weeds, Creeping Charlie seems to prefer unhealthy lawns. Therefore, regular mowing, watering, and fertilizing is one of the best ways to prevent it from appearing in the first place. When healthy, well-fed grass grows extra thick, it leaves no room for weeds like Creeping Charlie.

How do I get rid of it?

Even though Creeping Charlie is considered a broadleaf weed, it is not affected by all broadleaf herbicides. Most methods tackling this nuisance are somewhat ineffective because what’s seen on the surface is only part of the problem.

This variety of weed has vining rhizomes underground that are especially troublesome to kill. Unfortunately, the best way to eradicate this pest from your yard is to use a pro-level herbicide like Dicamba.

Natural methods such as placing a tarp over the affected area and starving the Creeping Charlie of sunlight will also work. Unfortunately, the tarp will also deprive the grass and other plants of light. For smaller infestations, good old-fashioned hands and knees pulling is an effective elimination method for Creeping Charlie.

Purple Deadnettle

What is it?

Lamium Purpureum, or Purple Deadnettle, is another pesky weed that is derived from the mint family. This common weed is characterized by its purplish-pink flowers, but more so by its stem and leaves.

The square-shaped stem has a lower and upper section. The lower section is entirely devoid of foliage, yet the upper part bears purplish colored leaves with triangular tips. These leaves have petioles, or stems, that connect them to the main stem.

Where does it grow?

Purple Deadnettle prefers a quite unsavory habitat. It can thrive in moist areas such as drainage ditches, fallow fields, waste areas, and weedy edges of woodlands.

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Preferring these types of places initially makes Purple Deadnettle no significant threat for your lawn. However, if your yard is typically moist (say, from an irrigation system) and possibly close to a field or woodland area with a Purple Deadnettle infestation, then your yard could be at risk.

How do I get rid of it?

Prevention is vital with Purple Deadnettle. This weed is a winter annual, meaning if you can stop seed production in the spring, your problem is solved. Herbicide application is an effective elimination method if applied in the early spring before Purple Deadnettle begins to bloom.

However, if you prefer to try organic ways of ridding your acreage of weeds, tillage in the late fall and again in the early spring is a decent solution. Understandably, you won’t want to till your entire lawn. But the reality is that Purple Deadnettle is most likely not going to attack your grass lawn, rather the edges and small sections here and there on your property where conditions are favorable.

This pest will rear its ugly head in places like your garden plot or around your yard’s perimeter. In these areas, organic tillage or even solarization is ideal.

Henbit

What is it?

Henbit also has the signature purple flowers these other weeds possess. At first glance, it could be confused with Purple Deadnettle, but there are some telltale differences.

Henbit has the same type of square stem that divides into two sections. However, it has more rounded leaves with deep lobes. Unlike Purple Deadnettle, the leaves on the upper stem do not have petioles. Instead, they are directly attached to the main stem.

Probably the most apparent visual difference between Purple Deadnettle and Henbit is that Henbit leaves have a “hairy” appearance.

Where does it grow?

Henbit is another widespread weed that will most likely appear around the edge of your yard, in fields, fallow areas, next to buildings, or your garden.

It is not generally a weed that will take hold of your actual lawn, so if you have purple flowering weeds in your grass, Henbit probably isn’t what you’re dealing with.

How do I get rid of it?

Because Henbit spreads through seed production, preventing those seeds from forming will greatly assist in controlling this weed.

Herbicide application in the early spring is probably the most effective way to cripple seed production in Henbit. However, I should note that if you wait until the pretty purple flowers appear, you’ve waited too long and herbicides won’t be effective.

Even your most powerful herbicide is no longer useful once the plant begins to bloom.

Organic methods to eliminate this weed are pretty standard. You can control small patches with hand pulling Henbit. Just be careful to control inadvertent seeding by carefully pulling the plants and putting them in a bucket or sack. Do not leave them on the ground.

Larger infestations of Henbit are manageable with early spring and fall tillage, the same as Purple Deadnettle.

Wild Violet

What is it?

The verdict is out on this particular plant. Some people affectionately refer to it as a flower, yet others passionately detest its presence. For our purposes (looking at its presence in a lawn), it is a weed.

This perennial bloomer has deep green heart-shaped leaves and delicate stems. These stems support a rather pretty purple flower, of course.

Where does it grow?

Wild violet prefers a moist, shady environment; however, mature plants are drought tolerant. This detail means wild violet can originate in an ideal place in your yard (like under a tree or near a shaded downspout) but spread to just about anywhere it wants in one of two different methods.

The unattractive aspect of wild violet is that it spreads prolifically two ways. First, it can propagate from seeds that form in low bearing flowers that do not open. These seeds can end up nearly anywhere by way of rainfall and wind.

Wild violet also spreads by rhizomes under the ground. People who battle this weed will tell you it mostly ends up in places it is not welcome. Worse yet, wild violet is quite resilient. Amazingly, it adapts to mowing by growing shorter so it can dodge the blade and give itself ample time to develop seeds.

How do I get rid of it?

As with most of these purple flowering weeds, eradication involves an appropriate herbicide or hand pulling.

Because wild violets have both seeds and rhizomes, be extra careful to dispose of the pulled waste properly, so regrowth does not occur.

Additionally, the hand pulling method will most likely require several sessions, so be vigilant and patient.

When Purple Flowers Aren’t Pretty

Looking out over your yard or garden, you want to be sure the pretty purple flowers you see are intentional, and growing where you want them.

When purple flowering weeds become a problem, there are solutions to eradicate them and prevent them from returning.

Whether its Creeping Charlie, one of its friends from the mint family, or wild violet, there is hope for eliminating that undesirable purple hue from your yard.

Identifying the weed you’ve got is the first step toward a weed-free lawn or garden.