Viola cornuta 'Belmont Blue'

Carol Klein’s favourite violas

Carol Klein reveals eight of her favourite violas.

Violas are easy to grow and flower for months on end. Often confused with pansies, violas are smaller and more delicate than their larger cousins, and are often scented, though some of them do bear the same cheery ‘faces’. They’re ideal for growing in pots, hanging baskets and borders in sun or dappled shade.

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What’s more, they’re easy to propagate by cuttings, dividing, layering and in some cases, from seed. Usually their flowers come in rich shades of yellow and purple.

Violas grow best in leafy, humus-rich soil, with some shade during summer. They don’t fare well in hot conditions, which can lead to aphid infestations, especially when watering is neglected.

More of Carol Klein’s favourites:

Discover Carol Klein’s favourite violas, below.


Viola odorata

Sweet violet (Viola odorata)
Sweet violet (Viola odorata)

Our native sweet violet, Viola odorata, is ideal for naturalising under trees or shrubs. In the past, numerous varieties were available, but cultivating them in any numbers can be tricky.

Flowers: February-March.

Height x spread: 20cm x 30cm.


Viola ‘Jackanapes’

Viola 'Jackanapes'
Viola ‘Jackanapes’

Viola ‘Jackanapes’ is a small-flowered cultivar with distinctive colouring – two maroon back petals and bright-yellow lower petals with ‘whiskers’.

F: April-October.

H x S: 15cm x 25cm.


Viola ‘Rebecca’

Viola 'Rebecca'
Viola ‘Rebecca’

Viola ‘Rebecca’ is a standout variety. Each pale flower has a deep-purple picotee edge. Neat, compact and prolific, it’s ideal for pots where its fragrant flowers can be best appreciated.

F: April-October.

H x S: 15cm x 25cm.


Viola ‘Dawn’

Viola 'Dawn'
Viola ‘Dawn’

‘Dawn’ has abundant creamy-yellow flowers that add a bright splash of sunny colour to a lightly shaded spot. Plant in containers or baskets to enjoy their sweet fragrance up close.

F: April-October.

H x S:  15cm x 25cm.


Viola ‘Etain’

Viola 'Etain'
Viola ‘Etain’

A delightful ‘old-fashioned’ viola with neat rounded petals of a soft creamy-yellow, outlined in soft blue. Very floriferous and highly scented.

F: April-October.

H x S: 15cm x 25cm.


Viola tricolor

Viola tricolor
Viola tricolor

Heartsease is a charming wildflower. To find it among grasses and clover in a summer meadow is a real treat.

F: May-October.

H x S: 12cm x 15cm.


Viola ‘Belmont Blue’

Viola cornuta 'Belmont Blue'
Viola ‘Belmont Blue’

Versatile and long-flowering, this viola produces masses of dainty blooms, whose colour fades elegantly to an array of lilacs and pale blues.

F: April-July.

H x S: 10cm x 20cm.


Viola sororia ‘Freckles’

Viola 'Freckles'
Viola ‘Freckles’

This North American species has made itself at home in Europe, where it self-seeds freely. There are purple and white forms, but ‘Freckles’ combines the two, its white petals splashed with purple.

F: March-June.

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H x S: 15cm x 20cm.


Dividing violas

If you want a lot of violas as soon as possible, pull apart clumps into smaller sections, each with their own roots, and replant straight away.

Plastic terracotta effect pot