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Viola 'Dynamite Blotch' (pansy)
Viola 'Dynamite Blotch' (pansy)

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Zone
Zones A1-A3, 1-45, H1, H2
Full SunPartial SunNo Sun
Full, Partial, Shade
Regular Water
Moderate

VIOLA

Viola, Violet
Violaceae
Annuals, Perennials, Flowers

Botanically speaking, violas, pansies, and almost all violets are perennials belonging to the genus Viola.

However, violas and pansies are usually treated as annuals, invaluable for winter and spring bloom in mild-winter areas, for spring-through-summer color in colder climates.

Typically used for mass color in borders and edgings, as covers for spring-flowering bulbs, in containers. Violets are more often used as woodland or rock garden plants.

Violas and ­pansies take sun or partial shade; violets grow in part or full shade (except as noted), but most are natives of deciduous forests and bloom best with at least some sun during the flowering season.

Viola cornuta
Viola cornuta

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Viola cornuta

To 6–8 in. high and 8 in. wide, with smooth, wavy-edged leaves. Purple, pansylike, slender-spurred flowers about 1/2 in. across. Modern strains and varieties are complex hybrids with larger, shorter-spurred flowers; they come in solid colors (purple, blue, yellow, apricot, ruby red, white) or with elaborate markings (“faces”). Plants in the frost-tolerant Penny series grow 4–6 in. tall and wide, with spring and fall flowers in bold colors. Sorbet strain comes in pastel bicolors; tolerates heat and cold. Some nurseries offer English violas—named varieties propagated by cuttings or division. These form 2-ft.-wide clumps and are reliably perennial.

Viola hederaceae

To 1–4 in. high; eventually covers several feet, spreading by runners at slow to moderate rate. Kidney-shaped leaves to 1/2 in. long. Nearly spurless, 1/4–3/4-in. flowers—broader than high and rather flat—in summer. They come in violet, blue, or white; commonly seen form is white with heavy blue-violet veining in throat. usa as a ground cover in light shade or (with abundant water) in sun.

Viola odorata
Viola odorata

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Viola odorata

Violet of song and story. To 8 in. high, 1/2 ft. wide. In cool, mild climates, can spread widely by seeds and runners, possibly becoming a pest. Dark green, heart-shaped, 2 1/2 -in.-long leaves with toothed margins. Fragrant, short-spurred flowers 3/4 in. or wider in deep violet, bluish rose, or white.

Viola pedata

So named because its finely divided leaves resemble a bird’s foot. Forms a clump to 2 in. high, 4 in. wide; does not spread by runners. Blooms from early spring to early summer; 4-in. stems bear inch-wide, typically two-tone violet-blue flowers with darker veining. Not as easy to grow as other violets; likes excellent drain­age, filtered sun or high shade, and acidic soil.

Viola tricolor
Viola tricolor

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Viola tricolor

Perennial grown as a cool-season annual. Spring bloomer to 6–12 in tall and broad; spreads widely by profuse self- sowing. Oval, deeply lobed leaves to 1 1/4 in. long. Pert, 1–3/4-in., velvety purple-and-yellow or blue-and- yellow flowers are the original wild pansies. Same planting and care as pansy. Crosses with closely related small-flowered species have produced forms with flowers in violet, blue, white, yellow, lavender, mauve, apricot, orange, red—with or without markings (“faces”).

Viola x wittrockiana

Perennial grown as a cool-season annual. Erect and bushy to 6-10 in. high and 9-12 in. wide. Many strains with 2-4-in. flowers in white, blue, mahogany red, rose, yellow, apricot, purple; also bicolors and multicolor blends. Most have dark blotches on the lower three petals; such flowers are often said to resemble faces. Shiny green leaves are oval to heart shaped, slightly lobed, 1 1/2 in. or longer.

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