8 Common Plants With Little White Flowers in Grass

For all of the time and sweat that goes into maintaining a green lawn, discovering something else growing amidst the grass can be a real bummer. No, those weeds didn’t suddenly appear on your lawn overnight. You just probably didn’t notice them until they began to flower.

Little white flowers in the grass aren’t always a bad thing. They can offer a much-needed food source for pollinators and add some biodiversity to the landscape. If you just let anything grow in your lawn, however, it’s likely to be overtaken by nasty weeds.

In this article, I’ll teach you about the most common lawn weeds with white flowers and how to best control them (if you so choose).

Tips for Identifying Weeds with White Flowers

Though sometimes easier said than done, identifying the weeds plaguing your lawn is the most important step in controlling them. If you don’t know exactly what you’re up against, you have no way of knowing what will work to kill the weeds or prevent their spread.

Weed Types

The most common lawn weeds with small white flowers are broadleaf weeds. However, there’s always a chance that your yard also contains varieties of grass or sedge weeds. Treatments designed to control one type won’t necessarily work on the others.

Broadleaf 

Flowers aside, broadleaf weeds are generally the easiest to distinguish from normal turf grass. These weeds come in all shapes and sizes. Common examples include dandelions and clover.

If you look at the leaves up close, you’ll see that the veins form a web- or net-like pattern. Many broadleaf weeds also have branching stems with multiple leaves coming from single growth points (nodes).

You can purchase selective herbicides that target broadleaf weeds while leaving nearby grasses more or less untouched. I’ll dive into a bit more detail later in this article.

Grass

There are thousands of grass species, only a few of which we plant as lawns. Other species, like crabgrass and wild barley, are generally classified as weeds.

Grassy weeds can be hard to spot because their growth blends in so well with the surrounding turf grass. You may only notice the intruders when they develop flower stalks or go to seed.

Treating grassy weeds is also a bit trickier than most broadleaf weeds. These weeds are very similar to turf grass biologically, so chemical control methods that kill off grassy weeds also tend to target the lawn itself.

Sedge

Weeds like yellow nutsedge may look like grass but they actually belong to an entirely different family. The simplest way to identify a sedge is to look at the stem. Sedge plants have triangular stems with distinct edges not seen in true grass.

You can control sedge in your lawn using a selective herbicide containing an ingredient like halosulfuron that won’t harm turf grass.

Life Cycles

The weeds in your lawn are either annuals, biennials, or perennials. These labels refer to the average life cycle of a given plant.

  • Annuals complete an entire life cycle in a single growing season. An annual weed will germinate from seed, sprout, flower, and produce its own seed all in one year.
  • Biennials tend to live for two years. They focus on growing leaves and storing energy during the first year and produce flowers and seeds in the second.
  • Perennials live for many years, though they may die back to the ground each winter. These weeds usually flower and produce a new generation of seeds every year.

Bloom Time

Paying attention to when those little white flowers appear on your lawn can tell you a lot about the type of weed you’re dealing with. For example, some weeds bloom in very early spring and are easy to ID based on that fact alone.

Another thing to note is that when a weed bloom is directly related to when it produces seeds. This is important. You want to prevent the existing weeds in your yard from creating a second generation of nuisance plants.

8 Lawn Weeds With Little White Flowers 

The sheer number of different weeds that can invade your lawn is overwhelming. Fortunately, there are only a handful of likely candidates that produce small white flowers.

If your lawn has recently fallen victim to an invasion of white flowers, I’m willing to bet you’ll find the guilty party in this list:

1) White Clover

White Clover

Trifolium repens

  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Bloom Time: Spring to summer

White clover is incredibly common in nearly all grass types. It’s native to Europe but is now widespread across most of the world. In the US, white clover is reliably hardy in zones 3 to 10.

White clover’s trifoliate leaves are very distinct. However, there are tons of weed species with clover-like leaves, so you shouldn’t rely on the foliage alone for identification.

This low-growing perennial easily blends into turf grass until its flowers first make an appearance in the spring. Depending on the weather, flowering can continue well into fall. Bees and other pollinators are frequent visitors of the tufted blooms.

Though white clover is found far and wide, it’s more likely to invade lawns that are already struggling. According to Pennsylvania State University, the presence of white clover in your yard may indicate that the grass is too thin or underfed. 

White clover forms thick patches using horizontal stems called stolons. The stolons spread out from the original plant and put down new roots. It also reproduces via seeds. This makes clover very hard to control once it’s well-established.

2) Hairy Bittercress

Hairy Bittercress

Cardamine hirsuta

  • Life Cycle: Annual or biennial
  • Bloom Time: Spring

Hairy bittercress is a member of the mustard family native to Europe and Asia. It routinely pops up in landscape beds and cracks between pavers. It’s also very common in patchy lawns where it blends in among the grass.

This weed loves damp soil, so an infestation of hairy bittercress may indicate that your lawn isn’t draining properly. It can also be a sign of over-irrigation.

The seeds of hairy bittercress usually germinate in fall and overwinter until early spring. A rosette of small, compound leaves precede the white flowers. Though hairy bittercress typically has a prostrate growth habit (it spreads along the ground) its flower stalks can be around 10 inches tall.

Hairy bittercress has super shallow roots that are easy to pull out by hand. Pre-emergent chemical controls should be applied in late summer or early fall to be effective.

3) English Daisy

English Daisy

Bellis perennis

  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Bloom Time: Spring to summer

It’s admittedly hard to look at a quaint English daisy and call it a weed, but this herbaceous perennial has a semi-aggressive habit that can overtake all but the healthiest lawns. 

The foliage of an English daisy can be very similar to a dandelion’s but without the toothed margins. Both the leaves and flowers of this weed tend to lay low to the ground, making them easy to miss with your lawn mower blades.

English daisies rarely crop up alone, as they produce underground rhizomes that sprout new plants. If left to grow unimpeded, you’ll likely end up with big patches of daisies scattered across your lawn. Some homeowners opt to let the daisies ‘win’ because they prefer the look of little white flowers throughout the turf grass.

A thick, thriving lawn is the best defence against this flowering weed. Once English daisies are established, the use of a selective post-emergent herbicide may be the only real option.

4) Common Chickweed

Common Chickweed

Stellaria media

  • Life Cycle: Annual
  • Bloom Time: Spring to fall

Common chickweed is traditionally a winter annual that thrives in cool, wet growing conditions. Most plants germinate near the end of the year and overwinter until the following spring. 

This weed has long, prostrate stems that lay close to the ground. The small white flowers look a bit like daisies and can bloom anytime from early spring to fall.

Though common chickweed is small and short-lived, its seeds are incredibly persistent. According to Michigan State University, the average mature plant produces about 25,000 seeds. Those seeds can survive in the soil for a decade or longer before finally sprouting!

As you may have guessed, controlling common chickweed in turf grass comes down to managing its seed production. Note that plants can produce viable seeds even after being pulled out of the ground. The most effective chemical control is a pre-emergent herbicide applied in late summer or early fall.

5) Mouse Ear Chickweed

Mouse Ear Chickweed

Cerastium fontanum

  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Bloom Time: Spring to fall

Mouse-ear chickweed is very similar in appearance to the common chickweed described above. You can easily tell the two apart, however, because mouse-ear chickweed has fuzzy leaves and stems.

Like common chickweed, this low-growing plant invades patchy lawns and un-mulched garden beds. It has a spreading growth habit, and new roots often sprout where the stems come into contact with the soil. Over time, this chokes out turf grass and other desirable ground cover plants.

Mouse-ear chickweed is a perennial but may live for a year or less in frequently disturbed areas. It primarily spreads by seeds, which can germinate anytime the weather is sufficiently damp and cool.

Apply selective post-emergent herbicides early in the season, before mouse-ear chickweed starts to flower. This will kill off the existing weeds and prevent the next generation of seeds with a single treatment.

6) Yarrow

Yarrow

Achillea millefolium

  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Bloom Time: Summer

You may know Yarrow as a charming cottage garden perennial that makes an excellent companion plant. While many varieties of yarrow are cultivated for this exact purpose, it can be a weedy nuisance in some lawns.

In my own experience, yarrow often invades turf grass from adjacent garden beds. You may also encounter wild yarrow in your lawn, especially if the soil is particularly dry and nutrient-poor.

Yarrow has soft, feathery leaves and clusters of very small flowers. The flowers are usually white but can also come in shades of yellow, pink, and red. It’s normal for yarrow leaves to remain close to the ground, even lower than your lawn mower’s blades. 

Keep in mind that you might have a yarrow on your lawn but rarely see the distinctive flowers. This happens when routine mowing cuts the flower stalks before they grow more than a few inches tall. 

Many popular selective herbicides don’t work well on yarrow. Instead, you could try a 2, 4-D herbicide to control yarrow growing in turf grass.

7) Wild Violet

Wild Violet

Viola spp.

  • Life Cycle: Perennial
  • Bloom Time: Spring

Wild violets are a contentious weed since many people (myself included) see them as sweet volunteers rather than unwelcome pests. Just because I’m happy to cede my grass to these little spring flowers doesn’t mean every gardener or homeowner is eager to do the same.

Confused by the inclusion of wild violets on this list of weeds with white flowers? Though the vast majority of violets have purple flowers, white varieties are very common. Yellow wild violets also exist!

Wild violets typically grow in woodland areas but have no qualms about invading thin, struggling turf grass. You’ll probably only find them growing in moist, shady sections of your lawn. They use underground rhizomes and seeds to reproduce quickly.

The war against wild violets is often a losing battle, but you may stand a chance if you spot the infestation early. Dig up offending plants, being sure to remove the entire root systems, and use selective herbicide sparingly where required.

8) Pearlwort

Pearlwort

Sagina procumbens

  • Life Cycle: Annual
  • Bloom Time: Spring to summer

Pearlwort is a very finely textured weed that may be mistaken for a type of moss. Though difficult to see, it produces extremely small, white flowers on short upright stems. The rest of the plant usually adopts a spreading growth habit.

Pearlwort likes loose, recently disturbed soil that is consistently moist. You might find it invading recently seeded sections of lawn, especially if you have a sprinkler running throughout the day. It might also appear along the edges of turf grass where the soil quality is poor.

Though pearlwort stems can spread many inches away from the root point, this weed’s primary form of reproduction is seeds. Early identification and removal are key to its control. A combination of selective pre- and post-emergent herbicides is most effective.

If you found this article interesting, why not click the link to read all about white flowers with black centers?

FAQs Little White Flowers in Grass

Why is my turf grass flowering?

Your lawn might start flowering if it grows too long between mowings. However, turf grass flowers are very inconspicuous. If you notice obvious flowers in your lawn, the more likely culprit is a broadleaf weed like white clover or dandelion.

What are the little white flowers on my lawn?

Little white flowers in the grass are usually the result of white clover. White clover is a very common low-growing perennial that likes similar conditions to turf grass. While many people classify white clover as a weed, it’s becoming more and more popular as a grass alternative.

Citations

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.