How to Grow Viola Plants

Guide to Growing Violet, Pansy, Wild Pansy, and Heartsease

The beauty of plants belonging to the Viola genus means that they are an often grown plant in gardens and parks.

Viola are hardy or half hardy perennials. They range from 5 to 30 cm (2 to 12 inches) in height.

Johnny Jump up

The time that plants bloom at is species dependent, and can occur at any time in the year.

Flowers can be one colored or multicolored and patterned. Some Viola species, such as pansies, are often said to have smiley faces.

Viola tricolor
Viola tricolor by Fabrizio.binello; Creative Commons.

Colors include purple, violet, blue, orange, red, yellow, and black amongst many others.

Some common names for Viola include violet, Pansy, Johnny jump up, Horned violet and Tufted pansy.

See also, How to Grow Sweet Violet.

Commonly Grown Viola Species Photographs and Plant Identification

Viola cornuta

Viola cornuta
Viola cornuta (Horned Pansy / Horned Violet), photograph by 阿橋 HQ; CC.

Viola tricolor

Viola tricolor
Viola tricolor (Wild Pansy / Johnny Jump up / Heartsease), photograph by Forest and Kim Starr; CC.

Viola alba

Viola alba
Viola alba (White violet), picture by stanze; CC.

Viola Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Violet, Pansy, Wild Pansy, Heartsease, Sweet Violet, English Violet, Violetta, Johnny Jump Up.
Family: Violaceae.
Life Cycle: Half hardy perennial. Hardy perennial. Hardy biennial commonly grown as a half hardy annual by gardeners (Viola tricolor).
Height: 3 to 12 inches (8 to 30 cm).
Native: Americas, Europe, Asia, Australasia.
Growing Region: Zones 2 to 10.
Flowers: As an annual: spring. Perennials: year round, depending on species.
Flower Details: Violet, blue, yellow, red, white, pink, black, orange. Multi-coloured or single colours. Five petals. Four symmetric fan shaped; one downwards pointing; lobed. Spurred. Faces.
Foliage: Simple. Cordate. Palmate. Deltate-oblong.

Sow Outside: Biennial as an annual: Surface 1/4 inch (6 mm). Late Summer or autumn. Spacing 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm).
Perennials: Cover seed. Start of spring or autumn. Spacing 8 to 15 inches (20 to 38 cm).
Sow Inside: Biennial as an annual: (best started outdoors) germination time: two weeks in the dark. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Three months in advance. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.
Perennials: Mix seeds in a growing medium; keep moist, place in a freezer bag, then stratify by refrigeration for two weeks. Germination time: one to three weeks in the dark. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Two months in advance. Transplant outdoors just before the last frost or in autumn.
Requirements: Partial shade. Good drainage. Soil pH 5.5 to 6.5. Rich soil. Moist soil. Early season feed. Mulch. Water to maintain soil moisture. Deadhead. Cut back to encourage second bloom. Propagate perennials: dividing in the spring.

How to Grow Viola Plants: Pansy and Violet

If growing Viola species such as pansies and violets outdoors from seeds, then sow either at the start of autumn or spring.

Once sown, Viola seeds should be lightly covered. Viola should be planted with a spacing of 20 to 30 cm (8 to 12 inches). Locate in a partially shaded part of the garden for best results.

Ideally the soil that pansy, violet and other Viola plants grow in should be rich, have good drainage, be slightly acidic to neutral in pH (5.5 to 7), and moist.

If first growing Viola indoors, then start about 10 weeks in advance. The seeds should first be put into soil within a plastic bag. Put the bag containing the Viola seeds in the fridge for two weeks. Then sow the seeds in the dark at 18 to 25 degrees centigrade (64 to 77°F). It should take about two to three weeks for Viola to germinate.

Caring for Viola species

Viola plants prefer moist and cool conditions, so supply them with a mulch and keep well watered.

Ideally violets and pansies should be fertilized when they are young. Following flowering, deadhead the plants to prolong blooming. At the end of the first bloom cut back stems; this may result in a further bloom.

Common Questions

How many members does the Viola genus have?

The Viola genus, which includes violets and pansies, consists of about 500-600 species.

Do members of Viola make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Viola species are often grown for their variety of colors and forms. They're great for borders, rock gardens, or as ground cover.

Which Viola species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Commonly grown species include Viola odorata (Sweet Violet) and Viola x wittrockiana (Garden Pansy).

Are members of the Viola plant genus fragrant?

Some Viola species, such as Viola odorata, are especially known for their pleasant fragrance.

What is the perfect location to grow Viola?

Viola prefers a sunny to partially shaded location with well-drained soil. They're excellent for borders, rock gardens, or as ground cover.

Is Viola invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Some Viola species can be aggressive spreaders, but they are not currently listed as invasive in the USA. Always check local regulations.

How do I remove Viola plants from my garden?

To remove Viola, uproot the entire plant, ensuring all root material is removed to prevent regrowth.


The Viola plant genus is a part of the Violaceae family. It contains around 500-600 species of annuals, perennials, and small shrubs distributed around the world, especially in temperate regions.

Viola plants prefer partial shade to full sun and well-drained, moist soil. They can be grown from seeds, typically sown in spring or autumn. Known for their five-petaled flowers, they are often grown in borders, containers, or as ground covers.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Viola plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides on coneflowers, which are often grown as altenatives to – or alongside – violets: How to grow Rudbeckia, Echinacea purpurea, and Echinacea plants.