Closely related to pansies, violas are pretty perennials that have smaller flowers than their cousins. They come in a wide range of colours, from white to almost black, and everything in between.
Violas make excellent bedding plants and are ideal for pots, window boxes and hanging baskets. Recent breeding means that modern varieties can stand up to winter wind and rain, and can continue flowering right into summer. Some varieties flower almost all year round.
The flowers of many violas have a sweet scent and are edible – use the petals to decorate cakes, biscuits and leafy salads.
Here are some beautiful viola varieties to grow.
Viola ‘Sorbet Peach Frost’
Viola ‘Sorbet Peach Frost’ is part of the Sorbet series of violas, prized for their winter hardiness. It bears delicate purple and yellow flowers for several months, with the exception of the hottest summer weather. Plants are bushy and compact.
Viola ‘Bowles’s Black’
Viola ‘Bowles’s Black’ bears velvet, almost black flowers and yellow eyes in summer. For best results, grow in moist but well-drained soil in partial shade.
Viola ‘Sorbet Coconut Duet’
Viola ‘Sorbet Coconut Duet’ is another viola from the Sorbet series. It has highly distinctive flowers that look lovely planted en masse and should flower from autumn to spring.
Viola ‘Tinkerbell’ bears masses of pretty flowers, which open cream and mature to a silvery blue. Plants bear flowers throughout summer and are well suited to growing in containers, hanging baskets and bedding displays.
Viola ‘Sorbet Ruby Gold Babyface’
Viola ‘Sorbet Ruby Gold Babyface’ is also part of the Sorbet series. ‘Sorbet Ruby Gold Babyface’ has velvety maroon flowers with a large yellow centre and maroon ‘whiskers’.
Viola ‘Sorbet Marina’
Also part of the Sorbet series, Viola ‘Sorbet Marina’ has beautiful blue-grey flowers with a large white centre and dark purple ‘whiskers’. It combines beautifully with Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete’.
Viola ‘Sorbet Coconut Swirl’
Viola ‘Sorbet Coconut Swirl’ is another Sorbet type with creamy-white flowers with a picotee blue edge and ‘whiskers’. Try growing with grape hyacinths (Muscari).
Viola ‘Sorbet Delft Blue’
Deadheading helps to keep the flowers coming. As soon as the flowers fade, nip them off. Keep plants well watered, too. Trim plants back in June to tidy up the foliage and encourage further flowering, and divide plants in September.