The viola, pansy, and violet are all recognized garden flowers that are frost-tolerant and early blooming. They are also very affordable, which makes them a great option for filling your garden with color. This article will teach you about the key differences between these flowers and how to best use them in your garden.
I rarely grow annuals in my garden, but I’m always drawn to classic pansies and violas. They’re some of the most versatile and easy-to-grow annuals, and they’re great for filling in the garden. They’re also edible, which is a bonus.
Next time you visit the garden centre, be sure to pick up a few trays of pansies or violas – they’re only $5 for 6-10 plants! They’ll add a touch of color to your garden during the colder months.
Demystifying Violas, Pansies, and Violets
There are three different terms for flowers in the violet family – violets, violas, and pansies. While they are all in the same family, they are in fact different flowers.
When people refer to pansies, they are usually talking about the larger blooms. Violas in the garden typically have smaller blooms, but there are more of them. The growing conditions and care for both plants are similar. While pansies are technically short-lived perennials, many gardeners treat them as annuals.
This is a list of some of the most common plants in the violet family.
The blue violet, also known as the common blue violet, is a type of flower that is commonly seen in fields and on lawns. Many people consider them to be weeds because they self-seed and spread easily, but I think they are beautiful and edible.
The flowers listed below are very different than the ones above, with heart-shaped leaves and 5 petals of either blue, purple, white, or yellow. The bottom three petals are veined and the lowest curl back. These pretty blooms are native to North America.
The plant known as viola, or wild pansy or Johnny Jump Up, is small and produces many flowers at a time.
Iris flowers come in many colors, the most common being a combination of two purple petals on top, white petals underneath, and a lower yellow petal.
This flower is commonly known as the sweet violet or English violet. It is the violet flower with the most scent and has a sweet floral fragrance. Many perfumes have been inspired by this flower. It can be found in dark to light purple, white, or pink colours.
They can be found in their native Europe and Asia, as well as in North America and Australia.
Viola x wittrockiana
The best-known type of pansy is the garden pansy, which is widely available from garden centres, supermarkets and hardware stores. It is a hybrid of the Viola tricolor.
There is an incredible variety of colors that the large flowers come in.
Uses for Viola Flowers
Not only are viola blooms beautiful, but they are useful too. Here are a few ways you can utilize them:
Each cool season gardener has planted pansies in their garden beds. Pansies are a very versatile flower that can provide a burst of color when few other flowers are blooming. They are often planted among spring bulbs.
Pansies make great garden borders, look lovely in containers, and make colorful hanging baskets. You can even plant them in your vegetable garden as an edible flower.
Giving the plants boosts of fertilizer will make them Grow more quickly and fill in any bare patches in the garden.
There are several types of violets that are used for medicinal purposes, including Viola odorata, Viola tricolor, Viola sororia, and Viola pedate. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, they use Viola yedoensis.
Violets have a good amount of Vitamin C in them and are known for promoting restful sleep and easing headaches. Ancient Greeks also used the herb to moderate anger and strengthen the heart.
Violets are often used to help with coughs and respiratory conditions due to their moistening nature, which can help to relieve dryness and inflammation in the respiratory system.
Violets are commonly known to reduce fever and inflammation. When applied topically, they can also help with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
The flowers of the violet plant have been shown to have positive effects on cancer and chemotherapy.
The violet is one of the most popular edible flowers. It is used by professional cake decorators and home gardeners as a food garnish. It works well as a garnish for desserts, drinks, salads, and pizzas.
There is a great deal of variation in the taste of different violas, with some being quite strong and grassy, while others are mild and sweet.
I recommend growing sunflowers from seed if you want to eat them. They’re not difficult to grow from seedlings and you can start them very early in the season.
Some violas are edible while others are not. Make sure you can identify the edible flowers before consuming them. Any of the violas listed above are safe to eat.
Do you have an outdoor violet, pansy, or viola that you would like to put in an indoor pot? Or perhaps a nursery start that you are ready to transplant into its permanent home inside?
Here’s how to transplant an established plant or a nursery start:
Place the container on top of the root ball, then invert it and tap on the bottom of the container until the plant slips out. Make a hole in the potting mix that is the size of the root ball. Place the container on top of the root ball and invert it. Tap on the bottom of the container until the plant slips out.
Next, loosen the soil in the existing planter or the ground around the plant with a butter knife or gardening trowel.
To avoid soil spilling out of smaller containers, put your pointer and middle fingers on either side of the stems, and use your other fingers to support the rest of the soil.
Carefully tilt the pot until the plant starts to come out, then use your other hand to hold the roots as you lower it into the prepared hole.
Mark a circle four to six inches from the central stem with a trowel if you are removing a larger plant from a bigger outdoor container or the ground.
The hole should be big enough so the roots can spread out. Dig a hole that is about four inches deep on all sides of the plant. Gently lift the root ball out of the ground and set it in the hole. The hole should be big enough so the roots can spread out.
After planting the tree, fill the container with soil and water the tree thoroughly.
Find a spot in your home that gets at least six to eight hours of sunlight every day for your indoor violet.
To plant new seeds, make quarter-inch divots in the soil, spaced six inches apart if you have a larger container, like a windowsill box.
Add a seed to each small hole. I always find that pansies germinate well, so one seed per hole should be enough, but feel free to add two if you want to improve your chances.
Put a very thin layer of soil over the seeds, and water them with a spray bottle. If you want the seeds to germinate more quickly, put a heat mat under the container and a humidity dome over the top.
Water the potting mix every other day or whenever the top inch of soil feels dry.
If there are multiple seeds, pinch off the smaller seedlings a week or two after they first sprout.
Caring for Your Plant
If you live in the north, you will know that there is little sunlight in the winter.
Perhaps three hours of sunlight enter through a window during November and December in Alaska.
If you’re anything like me, you might need to place a grow light above your plants to give them the light they need, especially when there’s not much natural sunlight available.
To ensure your plant grows healthy and strong, keep the grow light on for at least 12 to 14 hours each day. Position the bulbs close to the plant, making sure to adjust their distance as the plant grows taller.
Pansies need cooler temperatures to thrive, so don’t turn up the heat too much.
Water your pansies or violas once a week, giving them a long, deep watering. Check the top inch of soil regularly and water again whenever it has dried out.
Check the moisture levels in the soil every 2-3 days to ensure your plants are getting enough water.
The text is saying that you can water plants a little less in the winter months because they are not growing as much.
Fertilize every other month to keep the plant nourished and the blooms coming. You can use any 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer, or choose one that has been specifically formulated for violets and their relatives.
I love using this pansy fertilizer from Dr. Earth. It’s available in one-pound packages at The Home Depot.
Dr. Earth Pansy Fertilizer
Sprinkle a tablespoon of granular fertilizer around each plant, and then scratch it into the soil surface.
Small stones or sea glass can help your violets to stay evenly moist, and I recommend it even for indoor plants. Instead of using bark, which can hide pesky gnats, try using small stones or sea glass instead.
How pretty would that look?
At the Nautical Crush Trading Store, you can choose from several different color combinations. The store is available through Amazon.
Assorted Mix Tumbled Sea Glass
You are unlikely to see any weeds when growing your plants indoors in fresh potting soil, but if you do, pluck them out.
After your violets have bloomed, you should remove any spent flowers to encourage the plant to keep producing blossoms.
If your plant is older, you can get new plants for free by hand-pollinating a few flowers, letting them produce seeds, and deadheading the rest. Insects will pollinate the flowers outdoors, but you have to do it yourself if the plant is inside.
1. Use a cotton swab to take pollen from one flower and swipe it onto the stigma of another flower. 2. Make sure to mark the pollinated flowers with a piece of gardening tape so you don’t accidentally remove them.
Members of the Viola genus reproduce by dropping tiny new seeds in the soil, where they will spring up and take the place of older plants that aren’t producing as much.
After the pods are mature and dry, you can help the plant by scraping the seeds out of their pods and pushing them about a quarter of an inch down into the potting mix.
- Select a container that’s at least four inches deep and six to eight inches wide
- Plant in fresh potting mix that provides adequate drainage
- Mulch with pebbles or sea glass
- Provide six to eight hours of daily sunlight through a window or use a grow light
- Water when the top inch of soil dries out
- Fertilize every other month with a 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer
- Deadhead to encourage continuous blooming
Managing Pests and Disease
Violets are less likely to have pests and disease when grown indoors. The experts at the Clemson Cooperative Extension say that members of the Viola genus are not particularly prone to trouble when grown outdoors.
Indoors, it is easier to control the conditions, and there aren’t weeds and wilderness around to provide a breeding ground for pests.
If you use bark mulch or potting soil, you may end up with an infestation of fungus gnats or spider mites.
Watering your violets too much can also attract fungus gnats. Alternatively, a plant that is too dry is an invitation for spider mites, so make sure your soil stays moist but not waterlogged, and allow the top inch to dry out between waterings.
Use a neem-oil based solution to treat gnat or mite infestations according to package instructions.
Captain Jack’s Neem Max from Bonide will help solve the problem, and it’s available from Arbico Organics.
Waterlogged conditions can lead to the development of gray mold, root rot, and crown rot. This is especially likely to occur if the water isn’t draining properly.
To avoid problems with overwatering, make sure your container has drainage holes and a saucer. Empty drainage dishes every time you water your plants.
Cheery Faces All Year Long
Bring your violets outside during summertime or keep them indoors to enjoy their beauty year-round.
Do you have any experience growing violets indoors? We would love to hear any stories or questions you might have in the comments section below!