VIOLA: Pansies and Violets
This well-known and much-loved genus includes over 500 species of annuals and perennials found in all the temperate regions of the world. Over 300 species are native to North America. Learn more about the native violet selection on our Northwest Natives Viola page.
Annual pansies and violas are invaluable for winter and spring color in Portland. They provide mass color in borders and flower beds. They are also perfectly suited to containers.
Perennial violas are smaller cousins of pansies that will bloom almost year-round in Portland. A dainty plant that fits in a mixed container or hanging basket, they are useful in planting beds, rock gardens, as a ground cover, and as additions to a mixed border. Preferring cooler weather for best bloom, they often put on a good show in spring, and then again in the fall through a mild winter.
Most species are small clump-forming plants with lobed, elliptical, kidney- or heart-shaped leaves. All Violas have remarkably similarly shaped 5-petalled flowers, with the lower petal often carrying dark markings.
Historically Violets have been used for aromatherapy in perfume and sachets, in particular V. odorata. Their sweet fragrance is synonymous with the Victorian era.
Their brightly colored velvety flowers are edible and make a beautiful addition to salads, cheeses, dips & pâté. Include them in an edible flower or salad themed garden.
Violets are made into sweet syrup used in making candy, baked goods and liqueurs. Soufflés, cream and similar desserts can be flavored with essence of violet flowers.
A candied violet or crystallized violet, often used to decorate desserts, is a violet flower preserved by a coating of sugar syrup. Candied violets are still made commercially at Toulouse, France, where they are known as violettes de Toulouse.
Violets, whose blooms, leaves and roots are high in vitamins A and C, have been used medicinally.
Their blossoms are easily pressed; retain their color and shape, making them an ideal flower for arts and crafts projects.
You will find the best selection of annual bedding varieties at Portland Nursery during the early spring and again in the fall into winter months. Perennial varieties arrive spring into fall.
Some varieties you can look forward to finding at Portland Nursery include:
V. cornuta Bedding Pansy, Horned Violet is a perennial species that prefers shade.
'Columbine' has striking, heavily streaked, purple and white flowers. It has early, freely-blooming flowers and is a vigorous grower with a compact habit. 12" x 18"
'Etain' has beautiful large, creamy yellow flowers accented by lavender purple edges. Its blooms are slightly fragrant. 12" x 18"
'Rebecca' has impressionistic-looking flowers of cream, blotched with purple. This long blooming variety, with a compact tidy habit, is very attractive from afar. 9" x 12"
'Starry Night' is graced with dusky lavender purple blossoms with a primrose yellow center. Its trailing habit makes it ideal for baskets and containers.
8" x 8"
This perennial species makes a lovely ground cover with its broad mat of dark purplish foliage and deep violet purple flowers. Readily reseeds and can be aggressively invasive. 6"x6"
V. odorata Sweet Violet, English Violet, Common Violet, Garden Violet: This perennial species is native to Europe and Asia. The sweet, unmistakable scent of its flower has proved popular throughout the generations, particularly in the late Victorian period, and has consequently been used in the production of many cosmetic fragrances, perfumes and culinary violet syrup.
'Blue Remington' has large blue flowers appearing in profusion from late winter through spring, and sometimes again in fall. The glossy green foliage is neat and trouble free. 6" x 15"
'Rosina' has dusky pink, sweetly-fragrant flowers blooming in spring over heart shaped leaves. It prefers moist conditions. 2-4" x 6"
V. sororaria 'Freckles'
A rare and most unusual perennial violet with speckled flowers in late winter to spring produces up to 20 per plant in its first season. 'Freckles' is easy to grow in sun or part shade, drought resistant and needs good drainage. This one looks great under roses, in borders, and containers. 4-6" tall.
V. tricolor Johnny Jump-Up, Heartsease, Wild Pansy
A common European wild flower, grown as an annual or short-lived perennial. It has been introduced into North America, where it has spread widely by reseeding.
V. 'Hybrid Cultivars' Annual Pansy & Viola
You may be most familiar with this group of violas, the bright and beautiful bedding annuals that are a favorite in Portland gardens. Mostly neat, slowly spreading clumps of fleshy, dark green, shallowly lobed, ½-2 in long, pointed oval to lance-shaped leaves. Flowers are variably sized from small to giant styles nearly 3 inches wide. They come in virtually all colors and many beautiful combinations and patterns.
Pansy 'Frizzle Sizzle Mix'
Common Name: Violet, Pansy
Origin: They are found in the most temperate regions of the world from the mountains of New Zealand to the subarctic. The greatest concentrations of species are found in North America, the Andes and Japan.
Culture: Perennial species are mostly very hardy and easily grown in shade. Annual bedding pansies and violas will do well in sun or shade. Most annual varieties will tolerate at least light frosts, and many are fully frost hardy. All violas prefer moist well-drained soil.
Care: To prolong bloom, regularly pinch off faded flowers (with some foliage) before they set seed. During the heat of summer annual varieties will begin to look ragged. Remove leggy plants and replant with new in the cooler fall weather.
Pest and Disease: Relatively pest and disease free plants. Due to the cool, wet weather in Portland they can be damaged by slugs, powdery mildew and botrytis. V. odorata is susceptible to a virus transmitted by aphids.
V. 'Hybrid Cultivars'