The Viola genus includes a huge range of plants, from seasonal colourful garden pansies to perennial species.
Violas tend to have small flowers and tolerate heat, with a long flowering season from early summer to early autumn. Pansies have larger, more intensely coloured blooms and are most commonly used as winter bedding.
However, there are so many to violas to choose from that you can find one to suit every garden situation from hanging baskets and patio containers, to woodland borders. Many viola flowers are edible and make a beautiful addition to salads.
Take a look at our handy viola Grow Guide, below.
Where to plant violas
Grow violas in moist but well-drained soil, in partial shade.
How to plant violas
It’s possible to grow violas from seed. Sow lightly in a tray of seed compost, and pot on when seedlings are large enough to handle. If buying viola plants, dig a small hole, add a sprinkling of grit and well-rotted garden compost, plus a spoonful of mycorrhizal fungi and water in well.
Follow our guide to sowing seed indoors.
Propagate perennial Viola varieties by division. Dig up clumps in autumn, pull apart gently and replant in fresh compost to grown on, or straight into the soil in a different part of the garden.
Violas: problem solving
Violas are easy to grow and generally free from garden pests and diseases.
Caring for violas
Violas will flower over a long period of time, if you deadhead spent blooms regularly. Water regularly if growing in containers. In early summer, trim untidy looking plants back to encourage further flowering. Divide perennial plants in September to invigorate them.
Viola varieties to grow
- Viola ‘Bowles Black’ – with velvety black flowers and yellow centres, this is a good ground cover plant and works well in containers and at the front of borders
- Viola odorata – an old-fashioned perennial with tiny, strongly scented flowers and semi-evergreen foliage. With a spreading habit, it’s suitable for growing as ground cover under shrubs or in a woodland garden
- Viola ‘Victoria’s Blush’ – the delicate, pale blue flowers of this viola are unusual and make a fresh addition to the front of a border or a container display
- Viola ‘Sorbet Ruby Gold Babyface’ – one of the Sorbet series of violas, prized for their winter hardiness
- Viola x wittrockiana ‘Tiger Eyes’ – an annual bedding pansy. Larger than the species violas, many of the hybrid cultivars have been bred to bloom throughout winter