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 often grown in gardens and parks.

Viola are hardy or half hardy perennials that range from 5 to 30 cm in height.

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

Flowers can be one or multicoloured and patterned; some Viola species such as pansies are often said to have smiley faces.

Johnny Jump up

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

Colours 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.

How to Grow Viola; pansy, 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 and grown in a partially shaded part of the garden for best results.

Ideally the soil that pansy, violet and other Viola grow in should be rich, have good drainage, 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; it should take about two to three weeks for viola to germinate.

Caring for Viola species

Viola like 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.

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.

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 and Echinacea plants.