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How to Grow Violas

One of my earliest gardening memories is planting violas with my grandma in her flower garden in early spring. The name viola is a common name for the flower family “Violaceae”, which includes Johnny jump-up, pansies, violas, violets, and many others

Violas are easy to grow, low maintenance, and come in many varieties. Violas have been cultivated for over 2000 years now and are known for their sweet scent and attractive flowers. Learn how to grow violas with these five tips.

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5 Tips for How to Grow Violas

1. Plant violas at the right time

Violas prefer cooler weather. The best time to plant violas is during autumn or early spring. The fall planting would allow the violas enough time to establish their roots before winter arrives. Planting in early spring gives them enough time to grow and flower before the summer heat arrives.

Violas can be easily started from seed or transplanted from established plants. For growing from seeds indoors, sow the seeds 6-8 weeks before the expected last frost. Once they are a few inches tall and have some true leaves, transplant them to their final growing location.

In the low desert of Arizona, start seeds indoors:
August – November
Plant seeds or transplants outside:
October – January

Violas will bloom through May in the low desert of Arizona

Perpetual Flower Planting Calendar for Zone 9B

Flowers to Plant Outside & Seeds to Start Indoors Each Month in the Low Desert of Arizona.
PLANTING GUIDE: Each month lists annual flowers and bulbs to plant outside & seeds to start indoors.
BLOOMING GUIDE: Photos show what may be in bloom that month.

2. Plant violas correctly

Violas come in a wide range of colors and sizes. The most common types include the Johnny-jump-up variety with a yellow and purple two-tone bloom, the extremely popular “Sorbet” series, and the “Rococo” strain known for its frilly petals. Additionally, the “Delta” series is ideal for garden beds and borders, while the “Majestic Giant” is perfect for containers with larger blooms.

Scatter viola seeds on top of the soil and then cover with about 1/4 inch toil. Seeds should germinate in 7 to 14 days. Keep seeds moist until they sprout. Thin seedlings to about 8 inches apart. Click here for viola seeds. 

If planting from transplant, choose small transplants and plant at same depth as nursery pots. Space transplants about 8 inches apart. 

Violas grow best in partial shade during warm weather. During cooler weather, violas grow well in full sun. 

For square foot gardening, plant 4 viola plants per square foot.

3. Care for violas correctly

Violas are relatively low-maintenance plants. Violas prefer slightly acidic soil, with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. They need moist, well-drained soil with full to partial sunlight. Add organic matter like compost to the soil before planting to help with drainage and increase soil fertility.

  • Water violas well until plants are established. Do not let violas dry out; they do best with regular water. 
  • Violas benefit from a light dose of organic fertilizer each month during the growing season. 
  • Deadhead blooms often to encourage fresh blooms. 
  • Hot weather causes viola blooms to fade and plants to die back. 
  • Cut back violas in the fall to reinvigorate the plant and encourage fall blooming. 

To grow violas in containers:

  • Violas are a great choice for containers. 
  • Feed container-grown violas a half-strength dose of fish emulsion every 2 weeks throughout the growing season.

4. Harvest viola flowers often

Violas are not just beautiful; they are also edible. They are used in salads, herbal teas, cakes, and many other dishes. Pick the flowers in the morning and wash them gently, removing the sepals and stems. You can also dry them for use in fragrances or potpourri. Harvest viola blooms often to use in salads, baking, and as a garnish.

  • Remove blooms at their peak before they begin to fade.
  • Harvest by snipping with pruning snips. (I link to my absolute favorite ones).
  • Harvest in the morning so flowers have the highest moisture content. 
  •  Place flowers in a single layer and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Growing and Using Edible Flowers 

Learn more about growing and using edible flowers in this blog post.

5. Allow violas to reseed each year & save seeds

Johnny jump-up

Save viola seeds for next season. Once the flowers are faded, the seed pods will grow and turn brown. Collect the seeds before the pods burst and store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

At the end of the season, allow flowers to drop seed after blooming. Many varieties (including Johnny jump-up) will reseed easily each year. In fact, the name “Johnny Jump-Up” comes from their ability to self-seed and jump-up in new delicate patches.

Visual planting guides for vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers & vines.

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