An old-fashioned favorite from grandmother's garden, Viola tricolour is the progenitor of the cultivated Pansy, before the cultivated Pansies were developed, "Pansy" was an alternative name for the wild form. It is therefore sometimes called Wild Pansy.
Miniature flowers that blend together violet, lavender, yellow and some white in each face. It may come in many cultivated colours, but the basic wild form of this endearing little viola is scarcely anything that needs improving.
Although they may prefer moist well-draining soil in a cool semi-shaded location, they are very adaptable & they do well in most situations, these “cat-faced” beauties are so tiny they can be sewn over even the smallest early-spring bulbs. It will flower continuously from summer to winter, is compact enough for rockeries, walls or edging. Useful in shady areas, beds, borders, containers, rock gardens and as a cut flower.
As an edible flower, they can be washed by floating the blossoms in a pan of water. Sprinkled on top of salads or arranged neatly on puddings, they are the most beautiful garnish!
Sow in late summer/autumn and late winter/late spring.
Keep seeds chilled until you are ready to sow. Do not sow with high temperatures.
Spring sowings will give flowers during early summer, whilst summer and autumn sowings will bloom the following winter or spring.
Make a mixture of compost and approx 10% sand, to give a little drainage. Sieve the compost into pots or cell packs and press it down lightly. Add a little more compost if necessary. Make a small indentation with your finger and pop the seeds into it. Cover lightly with more sieved soil.
Place the containers in a cold greenhouse, outside in a cold frame or plunge them up to the rims in a shady part of the garden border and cover with glass or clear plastic.
Some of the seeds may germinate during the spring and summer and these should be transplanted when large enough to handle. The remainder of the seeds may lay dormant until next spring.
Seeds can be left to go through the seasons naturally as above, or, if planting at any other time of year, germination can be hastened by “Stratifying” (imitating the seasons)
Sow seeds as above and leave for 2-4 weeks. Transplant any seedlings that may have germinated. Then chill the remaining seeds: put the tray into the refrigerator at -4°C to +4°C (24-39°F), or somewhere with a similar temperature for 6 to 8 weeks. Then remove to around 10°C (50°F)
The normal temperature of a fridge is 4°C (very useful!). Don’t put the seeds into the freezer, it will kill them.
When seedlings have their first pair of “true” leaves and are large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots. Pot on year-old seedlings and grow on in well ventilated conditions for another year before planting outside permanently.
Plant the tubers 3cm to 5cm (1in to-2in) deep in humus-rich soil under the shade of trees. Plant 20cm (8”) apart and water well until established..
Mulch annually with leaf mould to help prevent the tubers from drying out in the summer and from winter cold.
Remove spent flowers to prolong the flowering season. If the plants are cut back after flowering they will flower again in late summer.
Divide in the autumn or just after flowering. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are established. Plant them out in the summer or the following spring.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flowers Borders and Beds, Alpine & Rockeries, Under-planting roses and shrubs, Containers, pots & hanging baskets.
Violas are among the most popular edible flowers, and with good reason. All flowers are beautiful, but viola are easy to grow and are among the few flowers that actually taste good.
Both the flowers and leaves in fresh and dried forms have been standard fare in Europe since before the 14th century. The simple addition of a few brilliant blooms transforms any dish into an elegant presentation.
Fresh flowers are most often used for garnishing and crystallizing. Culinary uses include jams and jellies, teas, garnishes and salads. Candied violas are easy to make and look stunning atop cakes, ice cream, cookies, or other desserts.
The pungent perfume of Viola odorata adds inimitable sweetness to desserts, fruit salads and teas while the mild pea flavour of most other viola varieties and species combines equally well with sweet or savory foods, like grilled meats and steamed vegetables.
The heart-shaped leaves provide a free source of greens throughout a long growing season. They add texture to green salads when young and tender. Later in the season, slightly tougher, older leaves are cooked with other potted herbs and greens in soups, stews and stir-frys.
- Additional Information
Family Violaceae Genus Viola Species tricolour Cultivar Wildflower of Britain and Ireland Common Name Heartsease, Wild Pansy, Helen Mount, Johnny Jump Up Other Common Names Love in Idleness, Live in Idleness, Herb Constancy, Herb Trinity Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers May – Oct Height 15-18cm (6-7in) Spread 30cm (12in) Position Full sun to mostly shade. Soil Well-drained/light, Moist