Viola – growing from seeds, planting and care

Flowers ViolaViola plant (lat. Viola) belongs to the genus in the family of Violaceae, the representatives of which grow mainly in mountainous areas and places with a moderate climate of the Northern Hemisphere and number from four to seven hundred species according to various sources. Some of the violas are endemic to the South American Andes, some of them occur in the subtropics of Brazil, the tropics of South Africa, Australia, the Hawaiian Islands and New Zealand. The common name of viola is a pansy. The violet-viola has long been popular. About 2,500 years ago ancient peoples inhabiting the territory of Europe weaved the flower into festive garlands and wreaths, decorating the rooms for celebrations. Sweet viola was the first viola that was introduced in the culture and it was followed by mountain viola. The first mention of breeding works on breeding hybrids of violets dates back to 1683. Acquaintance of the Europeans with the species of the garden pansy (viola wittrockiana) that is a hybrid of mountain pansy, viola altaica and wild pansy (viola tricolor) took place in the XIX century. Today, a garden viola is one of the most popular plants, numbering hundreds of species and varieties.

Viola flowers – requirements for growing

Viola is represented by perennial, biennial and annual herbaceous plants, reaching a height from 6 to 12 inches. The root system of the viola is fibrous, the main shoot is erect. Simple or pinnately dissected leaves of viola with stipules are either assembled into a basal rosette or grow alternately. Viola flowers are axillary, solitary, on long peduncles, up to 2.7 inches in diameter, upper petals are with “claws”, lower petals are larger, with a sacciform formation at the base that is called “spur”. The colors and shapes of the violas are striking in variety: one-colored, bi- or tricolored, spotted, striped, with a mark, with wavy or even edges of petals, simple or double. Viola blooms profusely from mid-March till the end of May, or from August till frost, depending on the time of planting. However there are hybrids that can bloom throughout the summer or twice a season. The fruit of viola is a capsule with seeds that retain their germination capacity up to two years.

Viola is winter-hardy and shade-tolerant, although if the plant is far from the sun light it blooms not so abundantly, and the flowers become smaller. Loamy, fertile, moist soil is preferable for the viola, as dry sandy soils also make viola flowers small.

Growing of violas from seeds

Sowing of violas to grow seedlings.

You can sow the seeds of viola directly into the open ground, but we are going to tell you how to grow seedlings, since the seedling method of seed propagation is usually more reliable than the non-seedling method. If you want to see flowering in the current year, growing of viola seedlings should be started at the end of February. Before sowing of viola, buy a soil substrate for violas at the nursery, and soak the seeds in a solution of a growth stimulant. Then scatter the seeds into the grooves made in the soil and sprinkle them with the substrate rubbed between the palms, water, cover the container with glass or transparent foil and keep it in a room with a temperature of about 59 ºF.

Flowers of a viola or pansy

Seedlings of viola.

Viola seedlings will emerge from the seeds in a week or a week and a half, and once viola has sprouted, the glass needs to be removed and the container with the seedlings should be kept in a cool place where the air temperature is not higher than 50 ºF, with a bright diffused light with protection from direct sunlight. At this stage care for viola implies timely moistening of the substrate and the usage of a combined mineral fertilizer in the form of a solution twice a month.

Blossoming Viola

Pricking out of viola.

There are two opinions as to how many times and when to prick out viola. Some growers insist that the viola seedlings are pricked out twice: the first time is when a pair of true leaves appears, and for the second time pricking out of viola is carried out in 2-3 weeks according to the 6x6 scheme. But the other no less experienced experts believe that the second pricking is, in fact, planting of viola in the open ground, so it's up to you to decide if you need to prick out viola for the second time. Eventually, viola can be planted on the site in bloom as it perfectly takes root. Viola grown from seeds blooms in late spring or early summer.

Plant of Viola

Planting of viola

When to plant viola.

Planting of viola in the open ground is carried out in April or May depending on the climate zone of your area. Choose a sunny site for viola with the optimal soil composition and add the following mixture: one part of soil, 0.2 parts of not too finely crushed coal, so that its fractions perform the drainage function, and the same amount of humus or dry bird droppings. It will also be good to grow viola in the soil of such composition: humus, sod soil, peat and sand in a ratio of 2:2:2:1. Do not plant viola in the lowland, where the groundwater is close to the ground, for the stagnation of water not to occur in the roots of viola.

Viola in the garden

Как посадить виолу.

If you are concerned with the question of how to plant viola properly, let us reassure you: planting of viola flowers does not have any secrets. The seedlings are placed in pre-prepared holes at a distance of 4-6 inches, sprinkled with soil, tamp the soil around the bush and water after planting. Note that growing of viola flowers involves plant transplantation every three years, combined with the division of bushes, otherwise the perennial viola grows heavily in size and the flowers become smaller, causing the plant to lose its ornamentality. The best viola varieties can be easily propagated by cuttings.

Flowering Viola

Viola: care

How to grow viola.

Growing of viola requires keeping the soil wet and loose, since the root system of the plant is superficial and it is only 6-8 inches deep. The planting site with viola is watered as needed. But in the usual summer rains will supply enough natural moistening. And only if the summer is hot, you will have to arrange additional watering. You should also remove the weeds from the site as they appear, and remove wilted flowers with the seed boxes timely for viola not to lose its blooming intensity.

In addition, care for viola flowers implies monthly fertilizing with ammonium nitrate or superphosphate at a rate of 0.9-1 oz per 11 square feet.

Flower of Viola

Pests and diseases of viola.

As you can see, planting and care for viola are very simple, so do not neglect the rules of viola growing, follow them strictly, otherwise you will have to face difficulties that can be avoided with proper care. We are talking about diseases and pests that emerge when the rules of agrotechnology are violated. Viola mostly suffers from powdery mildew that at first looks like a gray or white coating on leaves, buds and stems. This happens in a dry, sunny summer with abundant morning dew or if only nitrogen fertilizers are applied. In the case of powdery mildew disease, plants are sprayed with a fungicide, or ground sulfur, or soda ash with soap. If the plant is still sick, the treatment must be repeated in two weeks.

Blooming Viola in the Garden

In addition, if the temperature conditions, air and soil humidity are not observed, this can lead to such diseases as gray rot or blackleg. You should eliminate the causes of the diseases, otherwise all plants can get affected. Remove the infected plants, and treat the soil they grew in with a fungicide.

Viola flower

Sometimes viola can get sick with spotting that makes its leaves dry and the plant gets weak. It is necessary to destroy the infected plants, and it is better to burn them for the infection not to spread throughout the garden. Healthy plants are sprayed with a Bordeaux mixture for 2-3 times with a two week interval.

The insects that are dangerous for viola are caterpillars of clover cutworm and pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly, eating the leaves of the plant. Destroy them by spraying viola with trichlorfon or tobacco infusion.

Viola or pansies

Viola after flowering

How and when to collect the seeds of viola.

Seeds are collected from the faded plants in August-September. After wilting of the flowers, there are small capsules with seeds. The sign of the readiness of the seeds for collection is the rotation of the capsule upward. Take seeds from the cut capsules, dry them indoors and store them in the refrigerator. If you do not remove the capsules with seeds, then there may be abundant self-seeding and there will be fresh sprouts in autumn or next spring, but if you thin and prick them out timely, you can grow viola without wasting time on sowing and planting.

Flower of Viola

Viola in winter.

The modern varieties of perennial violas, if covered with fir twigs or dry foliage, can withstand even severe frosts – up to -22 ºF. And one-year-old violas are destroyed after wilting.

Species and varieties of viola

Garden pansy (Viola wittrockiana).

The most common species of viola in our flower beds is viola wittrockiana, or garden pansies. It is perennial, 8-12 inches high, grown as a biennial plant, with oval alternate leaves, dentate with rounded teeth. Solitary, large flowers are from 1.5 to 4 inches in diameter of various colors and shapes. Florists divide varieties of garden pansies into several categories: according to the terms and quality of flowering, the size of the flowers, their color, shape and type of winter hardiness. If the criterion is the size of the flowers and their number on the flowering bush, then according to these characteristics, the garden pansies are divided into groups of large-flowered (grandiflora) and multi-flowered (multiflora) varieties. If the color is the basis of the difference, the varieties are conventionally divided into one-colored, bicolored and spotted, but it should be noted that there is no clear difference between these groups, and one and the same variety can be considered, for example, both spotted and bicolored.

Garden pansy / Viola wittrockiana

One-colored varieties of garden pansy:

  • White Viola is a spreading shrub up to 10 inches in diameter and 8 inches in height with green leaves. The fragrant flowers are on long peduncles. They are white with hardly noticeable greenery and yellowness. This variety blooms from mid-April to early August and from late September to October. It overwinters well under cover;
  • Blue Boy is a bush up to 10 inches high with bluish leaves, lilac-blue wavy flowers up to 2.3 inches in diameter, with dark lilac strokes at the base of the petals, the upper petals are bent back. Simultaneously, there can be up to 19 opened flowers on a bush. It blooms from April to August and September-October. It overwinters well under cover;
  • Rua de Negri is compact shrubs up to 9 inches high, leaves are with a blue-gray covering, flowers are up to 2 inches in diameter with rounded black velvety petals curving slightly at the edges, there is a bright yellow mark at the base of the lower petal. Simultaneously, there can be up to 14 opened flowers on a bush. It blooms from April to August and from September to October. It overwinters well under cover;
  • Red Viola has upright stems with a height up to 8 inches. Flowers are up to 2.8 inches in diameter. They are red colored with a very dark spot at the base of the petals.
Garden pansy / Viola wittrockiana

Two-colored varieties of garden viola:

  • Jupiter is a compact variety up to 6 inches high with dark green leaves. Rounded white-purple flowers are up to 2 inches in diameter. The upper petals are bent at the base and the lower ones have a velvety texture and a dense purple hue. There can be up to 20 simultaneously opened flowers on a bush. It overwinters well.
  • Lord Beaconsfield is a bush up to 10 inches high, the leaves are bluish. Flowers are up to 2.2 inches in diameter. The upper petals are white-blue with ink dab at the base, the lower ones are dense purple with an uneven lilac rim along the edges. There can be up to 30 flowers simultaneously opened on a bush. It overwinters well;
  • Saint Knud is a compact shrub up to 8 inches in height with green leaves. The flowers are up to 2 inches in diameter. The upper petals are of a light yellowish-orange hue. The lower ones are of bright orange color with a red base, protruding strongly forward. There can be up to 19 flowers simultaneously opened on a bush.
Garden pansy / Viola wittrockiana

Spotted violas are:

  • Shalom Spurim is the improved type of the viola rococo, or double viola, but its petals are incredibly ruffled and flowers are very large – they are one third larger than the standard has. They are sold as a mixture of seeds of different colors. Unlike its parental species, it prefers a light half-shade to the sunlight as it makes its leaves wavier.
  • F1 hybrid Tiger eyes is a new product of incredible colors: there are thin frequent brown lines on yellow background. The diameter of the flower is up to 1.2 inches. It can be grown in flowerbeds and pots. The hybrid is characterized by early and incredibly abundant flowering and pleasant fragrance;
  • F1 hybrid Cassis is a compact plant. Its violet petals have a thin white border around the edges. It blooms very abundantly and has a high winter hardiness.
Horned pansy (Viola cornuta), or trailing viola

Horned pansy (Viola cornuta), or trailing viola.

Horned pansy is also widely cultivated in addition to garden pansy. It is a perennial plant, from 6 to 10 inches high, with a creeping branched rhizome. As it grows, it forms a carpet. The stems are triangular in cross-section, the leaves are oblong, coarsely dentate, up to 2.4 inches long, stipules are pinnately incised. Numerous flowers are 1.2-2 inches in diameter, with a horn-like spur. They are purple-violet with a small yellow spot. It blooms from May to September. It is winter-hardy, but it is better to cover it in winter. Growing of trailing violas is not much different from growing of garden violas. The breeding of new varieties of horned viola was done mainly by British breeders:

  • Arkwright Ruby is a large-flowered variety with petals of intensively red color with a yellow mark and dark spots at the base of the lower petals;
  • Balmont Blue is a variety with blue flowers and stems. It grows well in hanging baskets and containers on balcony;
  • Purple Duet is a variety with flowers that have two upper petals of burgundy color, and the three lower ones of dark pink with darker strokes at the base.
Sweet viola / Viola odorata

Sweet viola (Viola odorata).

Sweet viola also grows well in our gardens as it has lots of garden varieties. Sweet viola is a perennial plant with a thick rhizome and almost round leaves up to 3.5 inches long and 3 inches wide, forming a rosette. Flowers are quite large, fragrant, with purple hue. It blooms in May for three weeks, sometimes it blooms again in autumn. The varieties are:

  • Rosina has very fragrant flowers of pink color, darkening closer to the base, the upper petals at them are bent, lateral petals are slightly extended forward. The flower looks like a flying bird;
  • Charlotte is a viola with large dark purple flowers;
  • King is a viola with very fragrant purple flowers.
Common blue violet, or hooded blue violet / Viola papilionacea = Viola cucullata

Common blue violet, or hooded blue violet (Viola papilionacea = Viola cucullata).

Common blue violet, or hooded blue violet is highly demanded in the culture. It is 6-8 inches tall with heart-shaped or kidney-shaped leaves with serrated edges. The flowers are large, solitary, purple. The upper petal is white with a purple strip, and the center is yellowish green, almost white. It blooms from April to June. The varieties are:

  • Freckles has white flowers with dense purple freckles that become larger in the cold spring. It blooms in spring until summer. It is one of the most undemanding varieties in the culture;
  • Royal Robe is a miniature viola with very fragrant flowers, petals are bent back, and at the base of each petal there are yellow and black strokes. The petals have a color from violet-blue to purple;
  • Red Giant has very large red-violet flowers on long peduncles. It is a long-flowering variety.

In addition to these widely used species of violas, there are also such great species as: viola gracilis, viola montana, mountain pansy, marsh violet, viola altaica, hairy violet, alpine violet, viola uniflora, viola variegata, rock violet, viola somchetica, dog violet, wooly blue viola, birdfoot viola, wonder violet, hill violet and northern viola. They are mostly used by breeders to create new varieties and hybrids of garden viola.

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