The small viola (Violaceae) flower is often lumped into the category of pansy flowers, but they are somewhat different. The viola bloom is much smaller than pansy blooms and is the smallest plant in the Violet family.
Viola is a cool-season plant and blooms in early spring, late fall or during the winter in mild climates. These hardy little flowers are easy to grow and only have one main requirement – cool temperatures. So, how to grow violas?
These happy little plants grow equally well in full sun or partial shade, but a location that will provide a little bit of both is ideal.
Soil should be well-draining and amended with plenty of compost. Violas bloom for a long period of time and need to be planted in nutrient-rich soil that will provide them with the energy to keep blooming, especially when planted in fall/autumn.
Seeds or Plants
Start viola seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last predicted frost if you want to plant them in spring. For late-season color in fall/autumn and winter, seeds can be planted directly into the soil outdoors at the end of summer when the temperature cools down. Here is how to grow viola.
Incorporate 2-4 inches (5 – 10 cm) of compost into soil (violas can be grown in containers too), then sprinkle seeds on top of soil. Sprinkle a light layer of compost on top of seeds and water thoroughly.
Thin plants to 4 inches (10 cm) apart after the seeds germinate.
When starting with plants, incorporate 2-4 inches (5 – 10 cm) of compost into the soil and place plants in 2-inch (5 cm) deep holes that are 4 inches (10 cm) apart.
Perennial, Biennial or Annual
There are several different viola varieties to choose from, with most of them being annuals and bearing a purple bloom. But the plant also comes in perennial and biennial varieties and other bloom colors too.
Violas are compact plants that do not spread or require staking.
Water plants during times of drought and add a thin layer of mulch around the plants to keep roots cool when plants are grown in the spring.
If plants become leggy, cut back to 2 inches tall and feed with balanced plant food.
Keep plants dead-headed to encourage more flower production and to keep the plants looking neat.
Violas are great for growing as a border plant in a late-season vegetable garden. They add colorful beauty in the garden and on your plate. Violas are edible and have the flavor of mild salad greens.
The plant is also prized for its medicinal uses and is used in many home remedies.
Difference between Pansies and Violas
Pansies tend to have larger flowers, usually, 2-3 inches (5 – 7.5 cm) in diameter, while viola flowers are much smaller, usually less than an inch (2.5 cm).
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