Violas are perennial and grow best in well drained soil that has an open structure to encourage fibrous roots and promote many stems from the same root. They may get a bit leggy so cut back two or three times during the spring and summer to encourage new shoots and more flowers. Aid this by applying a liquid rose fertilizer or seaweed and keep watered.
Violas do not have the ‘blotch’ of the pansy but may have dark rays in the blue yellow or mauve petals. Violettas are very similar but with smaller flowers, compact habit and a good fragrance.
Many violas self seed but I try and collect seed from plants that I like. Sow the fresh seed on the surface of the compost but exclude light until they germinate in about 2 weeks.
Propagation to get more Violas for Free
- In the second week of June cut plants back to within 2 inches of the soil.
- When the shoots grow back to 3 inches long scatter some fine soil mixed with peat, amongst the shoots and keep well watered.
- In two or three weeks the shoots will have rooted and can be replanted in a shady spot
- Pinch out the growing tip to encourage branching
- Divide plants every two or three years in Spring as they start to grow or in Autumn but the results may not be as good as the rooted cuttings.
- Alternatively sow fresh seeds in July. Cover lightly but then exclude light for a few weeks until they have germinated. transplant in October to flower next spring.
Violas are so similar to Pansies that they are often sold under both names. Below is a popular variety The Joker which is a viola but is sold as a Pansy.
Violas often have a sweet scent, the blue ones are more closely related to violets and generally smell the strongest. I am looking for some Viola biflora seeds to sow asap.