Violas are irresistible. They are petite, fragrant, flowers without any fuss and come in every colour of the rainbow. What more could a gardener desire?
Violas planted in August will kickstart the spring garden, and if planted in a sunny but cool position (morning sun or dappled sun) they will flower through to November or for even longer.
Bedding violas produce a mass of tiny blooms that stand out as garden edgings or borders, as groundcovers under deciduous trees, and for filling crevices in rock walls or loffelstein block terraces. Their flowers are edible, which also makes them suitable for the winter veggie and herb garden.
When preparing the soil, dig in compost and a controlled-release fertiliser that will slowly release nutrition over the following months.
- Violas like good drainage so add extra organics to heavy soil.
- Space plants 15 – 18cm apart.
- Before planting out the seedlings, water the seedling tray.
- Remove plants from the tray by pushing up from the bottom. Don’t remove plants by pulling them out by their stems.
- Carefully loosen the soil around the roots and plant in the ground at the same level as they were in the tray. Gently firm down the soil around the seedling.
- Water the bed after planting and water every 2 – 3 days until the plants are established. Watering can then be scaled down: water regularly but allow the soil to dry out moderately between watering.
- If fertiliser was not added to the soil when planting, use a liquid feed once a month to encourage continuous flowering.
Violas in baskets, pots and window boxes
Trailing varieties that tumble down are showy in containers and spectacular in hanging baskets. However, upright varieties also display well in containers, and especially window boxes. Container-grown violas can take some morning sun but not full sun, especially when the days become warmer.
Use a good quality potting soil mixed with palm peat and incorporate a controlled release fertiliser. Mixing in water-retaining gel when planting helps to retain moisture, although regular watering is still essential. Because violas have shallow roots daily watering is necessary, especially in sunny positions. For an extra boost use a liquid fertiliser once a month.
Tip: Violas in smaller pots can be dropped into the window box and then surrounded with a lightweight material like moss or bark. This makes it easier to replace them.