Making a Case for Violas
There’s no love lost between Pansies and I. I’m not really a big fan of gaudy flowers, and I’m afraid I normally put pansies in this category. Add the fact there’s a vast amount of deadheading to do throughout the season, not to mention these plants tend to be short-lived and get very straggly, and they’re definitely not in my ‘plant must-have’s’ list. However, I’m going to have to eat my own words when it comes to a similar looking plant – the viola.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll only have really come across the small and wild viola thriving in the undergrowth and pushing up little specks of bright purple in the gloom. They’ve normally been pulled up and swept away with the rest of the weeds. I’ve never really paid much attention to them before, and it wasn’t until perennial violas were highlighted on Gardener’s World that I showed any interest at all. But my interest was piqued, and I began looking into them. I’m also looking at starting a small nursery at home and selling little plants in little pots at local events and venues. I already sell a variety of succulents and have been growing on and propagating my alpine asters. So, armed with my painted 4″ pots, I began looking at the perfect plant accompaniments.
Enter the viola.
These really are wonderful little plants. Yes, they do need deadheading throughout the year to keep them flowering, but why wouldn’t you take the time to do such a thing when the cascade of blooms are so glorious? Snipping them down in autumn is all that’s required to keep healthy for the winter and then, in spring, they’ll burst up again.
With so many varieties to choose from, I headed to Plant World Seeds and ordered four sets of seeds; Papuanum, Jooi, Blueberry Cream and Tigereye. Each is wonderful in it’s own right – whilst Tigereye is a total crowd pleaser, Papuanum is a diminuitive little bloom that looks similar to its wilder cousins.
Tigereye, by far, was the quickest to germinate, and I had little plants within a couple of weeks. Papuanum followed, whilst both blueberry cream and jooi have been relatively late starters. I have a few plants coming up, but they’ve not been as successful (so far) as the others.
So, I’ve got a lot of growing on to do, but I’m really happy with my plants so far. I can see this obsession growing and what’s great is, because they’re little plants, it’s not hard to find plenty of room – you can have LOADS with only a small amount of space. So, give violas a go, whether in a pot, a rockery or the front of a border. Underplant a bench with them, or grow them between the cracks of a stone path to add some vibrant colour. I hope, like me, you’ll realise their wonder!