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

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Zones 1-10, 14-24, 29-43
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Full, Partial
Regular Water

Viola cornuta

Viola, Tufted Pansy
Annuals, Perennials


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.

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