Viola is a large genus of 500 or so species of annuals, biennials, perennials, and subshrubs from temperate areas worldwide. Violas are grown primarily for their 5-petaled flowers in every color of the rainbow. Flowers have a spurred lower petal, 2 upper petals, and 2 lateral petals. Most cultivars are classified as garden pansies, violas, or violettas, differing in habit, flower characteristics, and cultivation requirements. The Viola genus is useful in containers, as bedding, in a rock garden, or in a border.
Noteworthy CharacteristicsProfuse flowers over long periods.
CareFull sun to part shade. Grow in fertile, humusy, moist but well-drained soil. Rock garden plants can grow in poor soil but they need gritty, very well-drained soil. Deadhead regularly.
PropagationSome species can be propagated by division. Take cuttings of perennial species in spring or late summer. Sow seed in a cold frame in spring or when ripe. For garden pansies, sow seed in late winter for early spring-summer flowering, or in summer for winter flowering. Many species are short-lived, so start new plants regularly.
ProblemsSlugs, snails, aphids, and violet leaf midges commonly munch on plants. Violas are also prone to mosaic viruses, downy mildew, powdery mildew, crown and root rot, rust, Botrytis, spot anthracnose, and other fungal leaf spots.