Plants A to Z

How to Grow and Care for Violas

The fast-growing kinds grown as garden plants are usually small-flowered annuals or short-lived perennials. Many will self-seed and offer you years of delight. Violas are edible flowers and are used to make garnishes and salad toppings.

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The cheery Viola genus contains over 500 different species, including annuals, perennials, and even some subshrubs: it's been said that each flower has its face! Collectively, they are known as violas, however individual different garden kinds are commonly termed pansies (Viola x wittrockiana), Johnny-jump-ups (Viola tricolour), or violets (Viola sorolia and others) (Viola sorolia and others). Violas are a diverse group that includes pure species and hundreds of hybrids and cultivars in every hue of the rainbow.

The fast-growing kinds grown as garden plants are usually small-flowered annuals or short-lived perennials. Many will self-seed and offer you years of delight. Violas are edible flowers and are used to make garnishes and salad toppings.

They can also be candied for a frosted effect or used to garnish cakes or other confections. Violas are generally considered cool-season bloomers. They are excellent for beginning and ending the season in colder climates and bridging the seasons in warmer temperatures, where they can remain in bloom throughout the winter months.

The best time to grow violas can vary depending on your climate. They are typically planted in the spring in the cool climate, although they can also be planted in the fall in climates with no winter frost.

Viola Care

Violas are generally the first seedlings for sale in nurseries in spring in colder countries and at the end of the summer in warm locations. Violas bloom 12 to 14 weeks after the seeds are planted.

Variety of V. tricolour (Johnny-jump-up) blooms two weeks before V. cornuta (horned violet); ‘Penny' and ‘Sorbet' bloom nine to ten weeks after sowing. These plants will bloom continuously, but the flowers will be more plentiful if you deadhead the spent flowers. During the summer months, violas will fall dormant.

The mounded plants provide a charming edging along a path or a garden border when used outside. Violas are equally at home in the woods as they are in the crevices of rock walls. Mix them with other cool-weather plants like snapdragons, calendula, and Dianthus.

Alternatively, put violas between spring-flowering bulbs like tulips and daffodils to fill in the gaps left by the bulbs as they fade. Violas are ideal for containers because of their small size, compact habit, and long flowering cycle. In hanging baskets and toppling over the edge of containers and window boxes, trailing is stunning.


Full sun is suitable for violas, but not for the heat it produces. When planting in the spring, this isn't an issue, but make sure they get some shade during the warmest portion of the afternoon in the summer.


Pansies and other violas thrive in humusy, damp soil like a peat-based potting mix or garden soil that has been significantly treated with organic matter. Violas prefer slightly acidic soil, which can be achieved by using peat moss as a soil amendment.


Water on a regular basis, but let the soil dry between waterings. They can withstand some drought, but they bloom best when watered regularly.

Temperature and Humidity

Violas enjoy the chilly spring weather and flourish in temperatures ranging from 40 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Mulch and water will help to relieve the stress of extreme heat.

Violas can bloom all summer with proper care, and most will bloom again in the fall. Alternatively, they can be removed and replaced with another bloom during the summer, then planted again when the weather cools down in the fall, especially in hot, southern areas.


Fill the soil with a slow-release fertilizer. To encourage an autumn bloom, fertilize in the spring and again in the late summer.

Types of Violas

  • When it comes to Viola x wittrockiana, this hybrid is frequently referred to as the garden pansy. It is a short-lived perennial or biennial with enormous flowers; in colder climates, it is more commonly grown annually. Plants grow to be around 8 inches tall with 2- to 3-inch single-colored or patterned blooms. With dozens of cultivars available, this is the most popular of the violas. In pots and baskets, it looks great.
  • Viola tricolour, often known as Johnny-jump-up, is a tiny plant that is one of the pansy's genetic progenitors. As the spilled seeds develop as volunteer seedlings, some hybrid pansies will revert to Johnny-jump-ups. It's commonly used as an edge plant or a filler in the garden.
  • Viola sororia, also known as the wild blue-violet, is native to forested places but has made its way into cultivated gardens and turf lawns, where it is normally considered a weed unless it is intentionally supported in native woodland gardens.
  • Viola cornuta, the tufted or horned violet, has a smaller blossom than the pansy. These are spreading perennials with 1 1/2-inch two-toned flowers over a 6- to 10-inch tall rosette of leaves.


Remove or deadhead faded flowers by pinching off the blossoms at the base of the flower stalk to promote blooming and lengthen the flowering time. Plants that are skinny or overgrown can be revived by pruning them back to 3 to 4 inches tall.

How to Grow Violas From Seed

Starting violas from seed is simple. They are glad to self-seed across your garden; however, volunteers in cold climates may not blossom until late in the season. The technique is quite simple if you want to start your own indoors.

8 to 12 weeks before transplanting, start the seed. Although mature violas may endure cold conditions on occasion, young transplants may be destroyed. Gardeners in warm climates who plan to transplant in the fall should start their seeds in the middle of the summer.

  1. Fill tiny pots or flats about 1/4 inch below the top edge with sterile potting mix. Place two to three seeds in each cell or pot, then lightly cover with the moistened potting mix. Violas require darkness to germinate, so they completely cover the seeds.
  2. Keep moist in a warm (65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit) setting. A good position is on top of the refrigerator. In 10 to 14 days, the seeds should start to germinate. Move the seeds to a sunny window or under plant lights once they have sprouted.
  3. When the first genuine leaves grow, pinch or chop the others at the soil line to thin the pot or cell to the strongest-looking seeds. A temperature of 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal at this point. You can feed your seedlings any well-balanced, water-soluble fertilizer right now.
  4. When the weather and temperatures allow, begin "hardening off" the seedlings by giving them increasingly longer outdoor visits for 10 to 14 days. Begin by exposing them to one to two hours of sunlight and gradually increasing their time under the sun. During this period of hardening off, keep the soil moist.
  5. After the seedlings have gotten used to spending whole days outside, you can permanently plant them in the garden or their outdoor pots.

You can also grow from seeds directly sown in the garden, though this method works best in areas with a long growing season. Carefully amend the planting area with organic matter before loosening the soil and scattering seeds. Cover with a quarter-inch of soil and water thoroughly. Maintain a moist seedbed. Thin the seedlings to about 6 to 8 inches apart as they grow, transplanting the excess seedlings to different locations.

Common Plant Pests and Diseases

Allowing your plants to sit in cool, wet conditions will cause grey mold to grow. Make sure your violas get plenty of sunlight and are well-ventilated. If you notice aphids on your plants, spray them with a strong stream of water or treat them with insecticidal soap if the problem is severe.

How to Grow Violas and Get Them to Bloom

Violas bloom prolifically throughout the spring and summer, except the hottest weeks. To keep yours blooming, deadhead spent flowers, fertilize once a month during the growing season, and prune your plants in late summer to prepare for autumn blooms.

  • Violas' Most Common Issues

While violas are among the easiest plants to grow in your garden, you may occasionally encounter minor issues that are easily resolved.

  • Leaves with Brown Spots

Leaf spot and anthracnose are two fungal diseases that can affect violas. All of these issues can be resolved by removing the affected leaves with a clean garden shear and applying a fungicide to the viola.

  • Flowers or drooping leaves

This can occur for a variety of reasons, including too much or too little water, as well as overcrowding. Once you identify the source of the problem, it's simple to fix. If you're having trouble watering, stick your finger into the soil to see if it's too dry or too wet, and make the necessary adjustments. If your violas appear to need more space between them, replant them with more distance between them.

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Elissa Sanci
Elissa Sanci
Elissa Sanci, the owner of the website, and senior writer of New York Garden; graduated from Santa Barbara City College – a famous public school in California with many diverse training professions, and she majored in horticulture.