Violets are the cheeriest flowers to grace our landscapes. They are best known for their vibrant colors and beautifully fragrant, yet elusive scent.
Also known as viola, the violet is a flowering plant that belongs to the violet family Violaceae. In fact, it is the largest genus in the family, with well over 400 species.
Thanks to their edible qualities and ability to add plenty of colors and floral aromas to a garden, violets are highly sought-after by most gardeners. However, with so many species around, we can’t possibly know about every variety and which one to choose. That’s why we want to help.
If you’re struggling to pick which violet to plant in your garden or simply want to learn more about this vibrant species of plant, you’re in the right place. We have compiled a list of the most common violets, giving you a better understanding of what is out there, and what characteristics they have.
Let’s not waste any more time, let’s get straight into the article.
We start our list with one of the most commonly grown violets. It blooms in the spring and early summer and is known for its sweet fragrance. Native to Europe and Asia, this species of violet grows up to 6 inches tall.
Despite its lovely fragrant smell, it is actually toxic. Commonly known as the sweet or common violet, Viola odorata has delicate heart-shaped flowers that can be blue, green, or purple in color.
African violets are native to South Africa, growing in dry, sunny habitats. They are hardy annuals that do well in warm temperatures.
This species of violet can be easily grown inside, making them a great houseplant. Each plant produces vibrant clusters of blue, white, and purple flowers that sit on top of fuzzy leaves.
Lady’s Mantle Violets are one of the most popular spring bulbs. They grow quickly and bloom early in the season. Typically its flowers are white, pink, purple, or blue. They are native to Europe and Asia but were introduced to North America in the late 1800s.
Now lady mantle violets can be seen all over the U.S. Lady’s Mantle Violets are easy to grow and maintain so if you want violets you don’t have to give much maintenance, this variety could be the best option for you.
The Appalachian blue violet is a rare plant that is only grown in the mountains from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. The flowers on this plant have soft toothed blue petals and a white center.
They can grow up to four inches high. Blooming in late spring these violets can also be found growing in wooded areas and along streams.
Growing up to seven inches tall, the birdfoot violet has basal leaves that usually grow in three separate parts. The irregular-shaped petals on the flower can grow up to three inches wide.
Each flower has two upper petals that differ in color from the darker petal found at the bottom of the three. If you choose to grow this variety of violet you can expect a purple-violet with a lavender-like scent to emerge in mid to late spring.
Canadian White Violet
The Canadian violet is a herbaceous plant with leaves that are heart-shaped and toothed. The flowers on this violet plant are arguably up there with the most beautiful violet varieties.
The classy, decadent flowers of the Canadian violet plant have a divine white appearance, a subtle yellow center, and black streaks throughout. Found mostly in rich woods, this violet blooms in spring and early summer.
The yellow pansy or as many call it, the California golden violet is a summer deciduous plant that has lovely fragrant flowers that are yellow and brown in color. The yellow and orange petals shine brightly in a flower bed and the fragrant scent of the petals attracts pollinators.
Growing to 6 inches tall, yellow pansies are another variety of violet grown in partial shade. They also appreciate a warmer environment. If you live somewhere cooler, consider planting the yellow pansy in a greenhouse.
Also referred to as the common dog violet, viola riviniana has green-yellow foliage that can grow up to 12 inches high. When early summer arrives atop the foliage stands a solitary purple flower with four small petals.
Unlike other violet varieties, this flower doesn’t actually have a scent. Adding a pleasant burst of purple to your garden, the common dog violet loves the shade.
Smooth Yellow Violet
You may know the smooth yellow violet by its other name which is Downey yellow. This violet is another herbaceous perennial that can grow up to 12 inches tall. The plant features lush green foliage consisting of heart-shaped leaves and a flower that has yellow and brown petals.
Typically you will find this type of violet all over the United States but they are much more popular to the east of the Rocky Mountains.
The field pansy is an annual plant native to cultivated grounds in Europe. It is quite drought-resistant for a violet, also handling extremely wet conditions well.
Growing to more than 15 inches tall the field pansy displays wonderful patterns of purple, yellow, and white flowers all at the same time. This makes the plant a great addition to a garden border where plenty of color is desired.
Zinnia plants or the ‘Giant Violet’ boast an incredibly beautiful large, double flower that grows to an impressive 6 inches across. Blooming continuously over the course of the summer, the zinnia comes packed with color.
The most common color this plant can be found in is a rich pink or purple with a small yellow-white center. The zinnia makes an excellent long-lasting flower for your borders. Just make sure you give the flower plenty of sun and evenly moist soil.
Heirloom violets are charming plants with the recognizable heart-shaped leaves we see on most violets. Growing in full shade the delicate petals on this violet purple flower release a gorgeous candy-sweet perfume that goes nicely in a variety of salads and desserts.
If looked after appropriately the heirloom violet will reach a height of approximately 15 inches with flowers emerging just two months after germination.
This perennial plant is perfect if you’re looking for a slightly more unique violet to plant in your garden. Reaching a height of 16 inches the dog heath violet has charming light blue petals and white hearts.
The plant blooms from May to June and is most commonly found in open forests and logging sites. Interestingly the plant also has a second variety called Viola ruppi. This variety blooms in June and July. Like the dog heath violet, Viola ruppi has short-tapered leaves that are glossy in texture.
France is well known for its violet, particularly Toulouse which is often referred to as the City of Violets. The characteristic that makes this plant stand out from other violets is its unusually large petals that come in a shade of violet-blue and feature a long, rigid stem.
La France blooms relatively early in the year. If you live somewhere with a cooler climate consider growing the plant under the cover of glass.
Hairy violets are pretty similar to the sweet violet in the sense it has a large heart-shaped flower and petal that are typically violet in color with a white and yellow center in the middle.
Usually, the hairy violet will be found growing across Europe in colder regions. Growing up to 6 inches high this species of violet has fine grayish hairs all over it, hence the name hairy violet.
Also known by the name Hooked Sprur violet, this plant has flowers that consist of three bluish-purple petals with faint lines running through the bottom. Attached along the stem of the plant are also kidney-shaped leaves that grow in clusters.
The plant that easily reaches 4 inches tall used to be used in medicine to treat upset stomachs and asthma. Occasionally the roots of this violet would be chewed by women as they gave birth.
Czar violets have long stems, stunning lush green leaves, and petals that are a deep purple color and strongly scented. These characteristics allow you to really enjoy the flower as long as they bloom. There is another variety of this violet called Czar Bleu.
The main difference between the two is that Czar Bleu has much darker petals and an even stronger scent. It could also be said that the petals are rounder and firmer. After two to five years of cultivation, the Czar plant should reach 7 inches in height and spread over 8 inches.
The final violet on our list was only introduced in 1920. Ever since it has been regarded as one of the most beautiful violets around thanks to its simply stunning rose-pink flowers that sit atop sturdy stems.
This hybrid plant has a divine sweet scent and fairly large dark green leaves that compliment the color of the lovely flowers brilliantly. This violet likes to grow in fertile, humus-rich soil that is moist yet well-drained.
Violets are an easy way to add an exciting burst of color to your garden or inside your home. The versatility and abundance of violet varieties on offer might make it hard to decide which plant to grow but once you’ve decided you’ll have a more vibrant garden in no time.
Our list has barely touched the surface in regards to just how many violets there are that you can grow at home and what they can be used for. Whilst most species of violet make a great border piece in any garden, others are better for use in the kitchen. Some even make better medicine than a houseplant.
Now you have our list at your disposal, why don’t you start exploring the violets you want to grow at home.
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