With their delicate flowers in shades of purple, white, yellow, and blue, violets have charmed gardeners for generations. Growing your own violets allows you to cultivate timeless beauty while learning the specific needs of these captivating plants.
Follow this expert gardener’s complete guide for advice on selecting the best viola and pansy varieties, and how to provide optimal care, including nurturing prolific blooms in your garden or home.
Or, if you prefer, click over to our Plants Guide page and explore everything you need to know about another flower species you’re curious about.
Getting to Know Violets
Violets belong to the Viola genus which contains over 500 species of individual flowers worldwide.
That means, depending on the region you live in (specifically the geography and climate), as well as where you shop for gardening supplies (including seeds and starter plants), you have a lot of choices to consider.
So, before we move on to the main care instructions in this guide, here are some key facts that you may find interesting about violets:
- Violets are native to temperate regions around the world. They thrive in partially shaded woodlands and open prairies.
- The flowers produce a sweet scent and bloom intricately from early spring to late fall, depending on the variety.
- The plants form low-growing mounds of lush, heart-shaped leaves – ideal as groundcovers.
- Violets are deer and rabbit-resistant, making them great choices for problem spots in your yard.
- The edible flowers can garnish salads, cocktails, and desserts. The mild, sweet flavor is delightful.
Now that you’re more familiar with the viola genus, it’s time to brainstorm and research more about any particular types of violets you are interested in growing at home.
Selecting Violets for Your Garden or Home
Choosing the right species and varieties of viola is one of the most important steps to getting started growing your own healthy and happy violets at home.
Amongst the most popular types of violets selected for outdoor gardens, flower beds, window boxes, and indoor containers each year include the following:
- Viola sororia – Common blue violet, very hardy with profuse blooms from early spring to fall.
- Viola labradorica – Labrador violet, tolerant of cold, spreads steadily.
- Viola cornuta – Tufted pansies, a wide range of colors, bloom well until frost.
- Viola x wittrockiana – Garden pansies, excellent for containers and edging, bloom all season.
- Saintpaulia ionantha – African violets, striking blooms in purple, pink, or white. Ideal houseplants.
Further, consider bloom time, flower color, mature size, hardiness zone, and usage to choose the best viola varieties to grow in your specific region and garden conditions. Check nurseries and garden centers for the top performers locally.
Pro Tip: For stunning continuous color, plant pansies in fall for blooms through winter, then fill in with violas in spring to keep the floral show going strong.
Cultivating Violets Outdoors
Most violets outside in the garden, or growing in flower beds, thrive with just a minimal effort on your behalf to provide proper care.
That’s why you should know and understand the recommended growing conditions for growing your own violets outdoors before you get started:
- Sun: Morning sun is ideal, with afternoon shade. Avoid intense midday sun.
- Soil: Rich, humus-heavy soil amended with compost. I incorporate 2 to 3 inches of compost before planting.
- Water: Consistent moisture is key. Water at the base avoiding wetting foliage.
- Fertilizer: Use a balanced granular fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks during the active growing season.
- Pruning: Deadhead spent blooms regularly to encourage more flowers.
My Top Two Product Recommendations for Violet Cultivation: Espoma Organic Potting Mix and Jobe’s Organic Granular Fertilizer are excellent for feeding violets. I’ve used both products extensively, and have netted equally awesome results every time.
Explore Espoma Organic Potting Mix:
Discover Jobe’s Organic Granular Fertilizer:
Growing Indoor Violet Species
These popular flower types make thriving houseplants when you stick to following the basic care regimen for violets.
When growing your own violets at home, indoors or outdoors, most specimens thrive when you systematically provide:
- Adequate Light: Provide bright, indirect sunlight from an east or west-facing window. Avoid direct sun.
- Proper Temperature Range: Ideal temps are 65 to 75°F. Avoid drafty areas.
- A Happy Humidity: Maintain 40 to 50% humidity. Set pots on pebble trays with water.
- The Right Type of Soil: Use an African violet-specific potting mix, or mix 1 part peat moss with 1 part perlite.
- A Regular Watering Routine: Water from below allowing soil to absorb moisture. Keep evenly moist but not soggy.
Pro Tip: Rotate potted violet plants periodically to promote even growth on all sides. I suggest turning the violet’s growing container around either every other day or once per week.
3 Methods For Easily Propagating Violets
Once established, violets are easy to propagate so you can expand your collection, regardless of whether they are growing outside in the ground or in pots inside your home.
Here are the three most common ways to easily propagate your homegrown violets:
1. Division: Dividing overcrowded clumps of violets in spring or fall will yield new plants. Replant divisions 12 to 15 inches apart.
2. Cuttings: Take 3 to 4-inch African violet leaf cuttings and root in pots of vermiculite or potting mix. High success rate!
3. Seeds: Start viola and pansy seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before outdoor planting time. Cover seeds lightly with soil.
My Recommendation for the Best Violet Propagation Product: I suggest using Jiffy Peat Pellets for clean starts with seeds and cuttings of all sorts, including the violets you plan to grow at home. I’ve been using this product for more than 20 years and they’ve never let me down.
Learn More About Jiffy Peat Pellets
Combating The 4 Most Common Violet Afflictions
Flowers often require very little attention, in comparison to other garden variety plants. But, in the case of violets, there are no free passes involved.
That means you need to constantly be aware of what’s happening to your flowers and monitor them closely for potential issues like the following four common afflictions violets most often suffer from:
1. Aphids: Control by spraying plants down with a strong stream of water daily or applying insecticidal soap sprays. Neem oil also works.
2. Powdery mildew: Improve airflow and reduce water on leaves. Apply neem oil weekly to prevent spread.
3. Crown rot: Avoid overwatering which causes roots to rot. Allow soil to dry slightly between waterings.
4. Leggy growth: Give violets adequate sunlight. Prune back leggy stems by one-third to encourage bushy growth.
Learn Ways to Enjoy Growing Your Own Violets All Year Round
With proper care, you can enjoy healthy and vibrant violets nearly year-round. That’s right folks, a little bit of TLC, with these blooming beauties, goes a long way.
Here are some creative ideas to help you with growing your own violets and enjoying them for the longest period of time each year:
- Craft delicate floral arrangements using violet blooms as they appear in early spring.
- Preserve violet leaves and flowers in glycerin or silica gel to retain their color. Display in glass bottles or jars.
- Candy deep purple blooms using egg whites and superfine sugar for a whimsical cake or dessert garnish.
- Add young viola leaves and edible flowers to freshen up salads, cocktails, and desserts with color and mild sweetness.
Growing violets from seeds, cuttings, or transplants is a rewarding endeavor that keeps your garden graced with classic charm or your home filled with beautiful blooms.
Follow the proper planting, care, and harvesting techniques outlined above and these captivating plants will flourish, creating a picturesque floral haven indoors or out.
Final Thoughts About Growing Viola Species at Home
With their diverse range of flower colors and preferred growing habits, it’s easy enough for anyone (including you) to find a vibrant violet variety that is perfectly suited to your specific needs and desires.
When you are growing your own violets at home, remember that providing proper sun, soil, moisture, and the specific types of care outlined here (in this article) rewards you with the maximum amount of delicate, fragrant viola blooms possible.
Further, growing violets from seedlings, or cuttings, enables you to expand your arsenal for even more floral enjoyment throughout the entire year (year after gloriously vivid blooming year).
FAQ About Growing Your Own Violets
What is the best time to plant violets outdoors?
Early spring or fall is ideal in most regions. This gives plants time to establish before summer heat or winter cold sets in.
How often should I water indoor potted African violets?
Water thoroughly when the top 1 to 2 inches of soil feels dry to the touch. Take care to avoid overwatering which leads to root rot.
Why are some of my violet leaves turning yellow?
Yellowing leaves often indicate overwatering. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings to prevent root rot.
How can I get my African violets to bloom more profusely?
Provide bright, indirect light, consistent fertilization every 4 to 6 weeks, and temperatures between 66 to 75°F to maximize blooms.
Should I cut back my violets in the fall?
Yes, trimming violet foliage back by 1/3 to 1/2 before winter is recommended. This tidies plants up and removes diseased foliage.
- Growing Perfect Pansies – More tips for success with pansies.
- African Violet Care – Complete indoor growing guide at The Spruce.
- Starting Seeds Indoors – Step-by-step seed starting guide from The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
- DIY Gardening Ideas and Inspiration – The Gardenboss.org ideas and inspiration archive.