Viola plants are the first and last flower to bloom for many in the garden, and when the fresh blossoms are kept cut so that they do not go to viola seeds.
I’ve seen viola blooms every month of the gardening season! Violas are smaller flowered than pansies and more persistent.
The most common viola, the Johnny jump up, may grow no more than three inches tall with tiny half-inch deep purple petals.
Johnny jump-ups self-sow readily so there’s no need for you to sow seeds everytime. The seeds will start growing at any time when the soil is moist, and especially when the weather is cool for a few days.
They may jump-up out of almost any part of the garden, and in spite of their promiscuous ways, they are welcome garden dwellers.
New viola varieties have flowers of near field pansy size, and solid, rich viola tricolor, at home in any garden. Even the large flowers retain the airy gracefulness of the Johnny jump-ups.
It is best to start violas from seeds which may be sown in the early spring (they’ll bloom by fall), or, during late summer.
Seeds planted in late July or August will make strong rooted plants by winter, and if your climate is mild, they may produce a few blooms during warm spells.
The plants may be wintered in the seed frame where they were started, or during the last two weeks of September they may be planted out into the garden. A loose mulch that will not pack down solid is beneficial, especially in areas where heaving is a problem.
For earliest blooms, plant where the sun will be warm, even on cold winter days. Violas do well in any good garden soil, but do best in rich, humus soil in locations with partial shade.
If the plants grow in full sun, the heat will take them down by mid-July.
Wild violets are sometimes treated as annuals, since the seeds will produce blooming plants the first year. Some gardeners consider violas perennials. I treat them as biennials, since the seeds are sown one year for blooming plants the next.
When the weather becomes drastically hot, most of the old plants make a contribution to the compost pile and new plants are started from fresh seeds.
You can buy packets of seeds of many of the varieties or a mixture of these can be planted. I use an old window frame as seed or flower beds.
The ground is spaded deeply and then tamped smooth with a brick. A lath will press shallow drills for planting the seeds, or they may be sown broadcast fashion.
Press them into the soil but do not cover. To help the seeds germinate, especially in hot weather, sprinkle a thin layer of moist vermiculite over the bed. Put a cover of burlap over the top of the frame and check every day to be sure the soil is not dry.
By the time the seedlings have two or three leaves the weather should be cooler, and the burlap can be removed. Be sure to keep the soil moist at all times. Bi-weekly feedings of a balanced liquid fertilizer will help develop strong plants.