The Viola Genus (Violet)

A favorite of gardeners everywhere, what violets lack in size, they make up for with buckets of character.

You’ll find them growing across the world as bedding plants, and most hail from temperate parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

They’ll hold their own in any planting scheme you may have in mind, as long as you place them at the front of a border, or pop them into pots where they can get plenty of sunshine.

At A Glance: What You Should Know About Violas

Violas, unsurprisingly, come from the Violaceae plant family. There are nearly 600 species to choose from, and while most are suited to cooler parts of the world, you’ll also find some in parts of Hawaii, and the Andes, among other places.

While some are classed as perennials, and you can also find some shrub species, most are annual plants.

You may be more familiar with the viola’s common name: the violet.

As you might guess from the name, most types are violet or a soft purple, but you can get them in many colors, or even tricolored varieties.

Violets are very easy to grow from seed, and you can get them as full-fledged plants if you prefer.

They also self-seed regularly in random places, these cheerful little blooms popping up in the most unexpected areas, such as the gravel on driveways, or through cracks in a wall.

They also have plenty of symbolism surrounding the flowers, which ensures that they have been part of flower arrangements, bouquets and gifts for hundreds of years.

Viola Name Meaning And Symbolism

Violets represent grace, innocence, enduring, everlasting love, faith, and remembrance.

They are typically given to people to express the deepest, enduring love for someone, as well as being an expression of optimism, dreams, and protection.

They have been mentioned in numerous poems throughout the ages, cementing their popularity over the years.

For a detailed breakdown of what violets can signify, including their roles in tattoos, gifts, and in literature, check out our dedicated Violet Flower Meaning And Symbolism guide.

Uses Of Violas

To the Ancient Romans, violets were employed in wine. Not only to flavor the wine, but it was widely believed that adding violets to alcohol would prevent getting drunk, (or more importantly), guard against a hangover.

They may have been onto something, as violets have antioxidant properties, and are packed with vitamin C and anti-inflammatory properties.

You may also see them included in salads as a decorative garnish, as the flowers are wholly edible. Some people use newly-opened blooms to stuff chicken or fish.

The foliage is also edible, preferably harvested while they are young, but they don’t have a lot of flavor.

The flowers have been candied for hundreds of years, often used to decorate cakes or desserts.

Violets also have a wonderful scent, so they’re used in perfume and cosmetics, but what’s interesting is that the flowers contain Ionone, which stops you smelling it periodically! 

Growing Requirements For Violas

Violets are hardy in USDA zones 3 through to 9, and depending on what species you go for, and when you sow the plants, they may bloom any time of the year.

All violets are compact. Most of them may reach a maximum of 20cm tall, but some will be much, much smaller.

Violets like well-draining, rich compost which stays somewhat damp, and this will mean you’ll get the most flowers possible.

These robust little flowers will survive in dappled shade or full sunlight, whichever you happen to have.

For a detailed guide on what violets you should grow in your own garden, the conditions they need, and common problems, visit our Violet Varieties And Plant Care Guide.

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