The varieties grown as garden plants are mostly small-flowered annuals or short-lived perennials. Many will self-seed and give you years of delight. Violas are edible flowers and make unexpected garnishes and salad ingredients. They can also be candied for a frosted effect or used to decorate cakes or other confections.
Violas’ size, compact habit, and long flowering period make them perfect for containers. Trailing varieties are exquisite in hanging baskets and tumbling over the edge of containers and window boxes.
Watch Now: How to Grow and Care for Violas
With proper care, violas can bloom all summer and most will bloom again in the fall. Or, particularly in hot, southern climates, they can be removed and replaced with another flower during the summer, then planted again when cooler weather returns in the fall.
Violas are easy to start from seed. They are quite happy to self-seed all over your garden, but in cold climates, the volunteers may not bloom until quite late in the seson. If you would like to start your own indoors, the process is very straightforward. Start seed about 8 to 12 weeks before transplanting. Mature violas can withstand occasional freezing temperatures, but new transplants may be damaged if exposed to a freeze. Warm climate gardeners transplanting in the fall should start their seeds in mid-summer.
Violas like full sun, but not the heat it brings. This isn’t a problem in cool spring temperatures, but when planting in the summer, make sure they get some shade during the hottest part of the afternoon.
Planting: Set out plants anytime in early spring, once danger of hard frost is past. Violas do best in cooler spring and fall conditions, yet will also do well in mid-summer if plants are kept deadheaded to encourage continuous blooms. (Violas are not to be confused with the indoor plant known as Violets, as there is no relation.)
Viola is in genus of the Violet (Violaceae) family, and is a familiar sight in spring gardens all over the world, where the diminutive, heart-shaped flowers, are easily recognized.
When & Where to Plant Viola
Mulching: No mulch is required, yet violas will tolerate mulch to keep roots shady and moist.
Soil: Moist, nutrient-rich soil that is well drained and supplemented with compost. Fertilize, as needed, to keep plants strong and healthy.
Watering: Violas prefer well-drained soil, and can develop root rot or leaves can mold if grown in standing water or in overly tight conditions. If growing in containers, hold back on overwatering and use as an understory to taller plants to give them a little shade during the summer heat.
Winter bedding plants: Sow from May to July.
Nearly all violas are reliably hardy and form low-growing mats of evergreen foliage that is excellent as ground cover. Most violas have a long flowering period in spring and summer – and the winter-flowering pansies will provide excellent garden colour throughout the colder months of the year and well into late spring.
Keep the soil or compost moist, especially when plants are flowering. Regular liquid feeds will help prolong the flowering period.
Summer bedding plants: Sow February to March.
Take cuttings around 5-7.5cm (2-3in) long, cutting just below a leaf joint, or node. Remove the leaves from the lower half to two-thirds of the stem and insert in pots of a suitable cuttings compost to the base of the leaves, spacing cuttings so the leaves don’t touch. Place the pot in a plastic bag or in a propagator and place somewhere warm, with good light, but out of direct sunlight to root.