Violets: Hardy plants with a gentle nature
Spring is almost here again and we’re ready for bright colours in the garden. What better plant for that than the hardy violet? Despite its soft and gentle appearance, the violet is a hardy plant that will brighten up your garden, patio or balcony not just in spring, but also during harsh winters.
Want a ravishing garden, patio or balcony throughout the year?
If so, the violet is a perfect choice for you! Violets bloom in every season, depending on when you plant them. Planting and caring for them is a piece of cake. Anyone can enjoy these little beauties, even those without green fingers. View our range of violets.
From dog violets, horned violets, tricolour violets to blue violets
Which violet is right for you? There are over 400 species of violets, so it’s no surprise that it can be hard to make head or tail of them. ‘Viola’ is the official Latin name of this genus from the ‘Violaceae’ family. This genus is subdivided into different species. We have organised the best known species in a list below.
Dog violets, the ones you see in gardens, are actually a type of miniature horned violets. True dog violets, Viola silvestris, only grow in broad-leaf forests. However, for the sake of convenience, we call them dog violets.
The horned violet, Viola cornuta, is native to the Pyrenees. They come in many different colours and can be identified by their longer, stretched petals, which is where their name comes from. This violet makes an excellent ground cover.
The tricolour violet, or Viola tricolor, comes in, you guessed it, three colours. This violet loves the sun, so it is perfect for the springtime.
The Sweet violet, Viola odorata, is the first to bloom of them all and has a uniquely pleasant fragrance that inspired its name: ‘Scented’.
Blue violets is the collective name for all the kinds that share this colour. These can be violets of any species. Did you know that blue violets are actually a symbol of love?
When it’s terribly cold, the violets may lose their petals, but don’t give up on them! There is a good chance that they will bloom again when it gets warm. They will grow taller, which makes them eventually start to droop. Give the winter-hardy violet a trim and some liquid plant food. This will give them a boost to make them bloom again. This can last up until the end of May.
Large-flowered and small-flowered violets
These terms refer to the size of the flower. Large-flowered violets are often F1 hybrid violets. This means that they have been bred and cultivated to be uniform in appearance.
Large-flowered violets are known under common names like: Ice violets or Aalsmeer/Holland/Swiss Giants. You can probably guess what kind of flowers small-flowered violets have. These are often horned violets bred with other species. Small-flowered violets bloom for a long time. Perfect to create the spring mood.
Tip: Sow your own large-flowered violets.
How can you tell them apart?
In order to make it easier to identify the violets, we have set the 5 violets with the most distinct appearances beside each other to help you out.
- ‘Eye violet’: these flowers are evenly coloured and have a bright ‘eye’ in the centre. These are often large-flowered violets.
- ‘Flag violets’: the uppermost petals have a different colour than the lower ones. These are often small-flowered violets.
- ‘Veined violets’: The ‘eye’ of the violet has clear lines (veins) that run out to the petals. These are often small-flowered violets as well.
- ‘Single-colour violets’: The name says it all; this violet has a single, even colour, such as these yellow violets. These are often large-flowered violets.
- ‘Frizzle Sizzle violet’: These violets look curled, because the flowers are wavy at the edges. These are generally large-flowered violets. Check out our Frizzle Sizzle violet and sow some seeds yourself.
Violet planting times
Which violets should you use to liven up your garden, patio or balcony in the spring? We have organised the planting times for these in a list below. Take a look at our selection of violets.
- The Sweet violet or scented violet: End of February to end of March (sometimes extending to late August/September).The Sweet violet is always the first one to bloom.
- Horned violet: blooms from April to September. In order to ensure that they bloom again in autumn, trim them after the first flowering and then regularly water them at the roots.
- Tricolour violet: blooms from April to October.
- Dog violet (mini horned violets): blooms from May to September. They may also bloom in autumn, but they don’t like to drown in water. Be sure that you plant them in a pot with a hole in the bottom.
Creative spring garden ideas
- Vertical violet garden: Not a lot of room in your garden or on the balcony or patio? Want to cheer up your wall? Create your own vertical garden with violets. Violets are perfect for it. In addition to their gorgeous flowers, they also add a lot of green, which disguises the hanging system.
- Hanging violets: Their wild and lush manner of growing makes violets ideal for a hanging pot.
- Floating violets: Freshen up your balcony with planters full of violets. No balcony? Use a regular planter with violets and place it on a table on the patio or in the garden.
- Wild violets: create a fun, wild bouquet of violets. Looks fantastic indoors and out.
- Crazy violets: Plant violets in crazy ‘pots’ like old colanders (no need to worry about the hole in the pot!), teapots, pans or cans (these need those holes in the bottom). Or create a true attraction: A great mix of hanging, floating and standing violets.
Did you know that you can eat tricolour violets and Sweet violets? And you can make tea with them! Violets are quite healthy. These plants help with kidney problems and skin diseases, and are a natural cough remedy. Use violets as a garnish for sweets or create flowery Violet ice cups. Sowing them is the best way to go, so you can be certain that they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides.
6 fun facts about violets:
- Violets are used as the basis for perfumes.
- Violets are used as medicines.
- Violets primarily grow in the Northern Hemisphere, but can be found all across the globe. The Viola Cryana is an extinct species that only grew in France.
- In English, these flowers can be called ‘violets’ and ‘pansies’, which comes from the French word ‘penser’. This means ‘to think’.
- The violet was once a symbol of remembrance, therefore they were often placed on graves.
- The Sweet violet was Napoleon’s favourite flower. After he was banned to the island Elba, he promised to return before the Sweet violets bloomed. And he did just that.
4 tips for keeping your violets alive during winter:
If winter is on the way, we have 4 tips for keeping your violets alive.
- Make sure that the violets are in a sturdy pot, with a hole at the bottom, so that any excess water can drain.
- Do not put violets in full sun: they do best in cooler areas.
- Do not allow the pot to freeze: you can prevent this by lining it with bubble wrap.
- Make sure that the violets do not dry out. This can happen right after a frost. Give violets water as soon as possible once the frost has passed.