Along the Garden Path: Violas are great springtime flowers


Violas are a happy springtime favorite flower for many gardeners. Their fragrant, happy faces gaze up at you and tell you that spring has finally arrived!

These budget blooms come in a rainbow of hues, the usual blues, violets, and yellow but also browns, reds and burnt orange. Ease of growing in cool weather means that violas will pair well with other cool season flowers, such as diascia, lettuce, parsley, verbenas, succulents and other early blooming annuals.

Their fragrance is phenomenal. Most people don’t realize the perfume of pansies and violas grouped together in mass.

Some people get confused with the differences between violas and pansies. They are very similar flowers. Pansies have a distinctive blotching that resembles a face. They also have more compact growth than violas and larger leaves with fewer and larger flowers.

Violas, often called “Johnny-Jump-Ups,” are more winter hardy and durable in the landscape, and we like them for their versatility. The flowers are smaller but more prolific and can cover the plant with color. Many Violas have transitioned from the smaller Violas over the years to the beautiful large-flowered Pansy varieties through the efforts of gardeners and hybridizers. The violas gives you so many more blooms per plant.

Edible leaves and flowers high in Vitamin A and C, the pansy and viola flowers impart a strong flavor and are used to make syrups, flavored honey and as a garnish for salads.

These easy to grow plants grow in sun or partial shade with plenty of moisture, the plants will fade when the days get hot usually around June. It is always hard for us to replace the violas when it’s time to plants summer flowering annuals as the violas is still going strong.

A great centerpiece for the upcoming Easter and spring months would be to make a springtime viola basket. Also, a great hostess gift if you are going somewhere for Easter dinner.

Check out garden centers for your favorite violas; once you get it home, slice off half of the root ball and remove some of the soil clinging to the root ball. This makes the task of fitting lots of plants for maximum color into a container easier. You might want to select a low basket, a vintage metal tray or just a pot.

Start filling the container with the violas, add potting soil and pack them in tightly for maximum impact.

You could add some green sheet moss, tuck this into all the nooks and crannies and moisten everything with a mister.

Keep the planting medium moist — not sopping wet — and this centerpiece will last for six weeks or more.

By Charlene Thornhill

Charlene Thornhill is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her community column Along the Garden Path. She can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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