Violas are among the most popular annuals available, and for good reason. They are planted in early fall, often blooming off and on throughout the winter months, and are known to put on quite the show in spring. Late-blooming forms can also be planted in late winter.
Violas prefer full sun but tolerate some afternoon shade. The soil should be fertile, moist and well drained. Violas do best in cool weather, so plant them in late September through winter and they’ll provide you with blooms through spring. It is the heat of summer that kills them, so waiting to plant them in spring doesn’t give you much time to enjoy them.
Violas can be used in beds and borders for winter color or mixed with spring-flowering bulbs. They can also be grown in containers. With the varied color combinations available, pansies complement almost every other type of bedding plant. The dense clusters of smaller violas make excellent edging plants.
V. tricolor (Johnny jump up) is a perennial grown as an annual but will reseed. It bears flowers in shades of purple, lavender, blue, white or yellow, with dark purple upper petals. The lower petals are usually streaked with dark purple. Many cultivars exist with larger flowers in various colors above heart-shaped leaves.
V. x wittrockiana (pansy) is available in a wide variety of hybrids and cultivars that have solid, patterned, bicolored and multi-colored flowers in every size imaginable with face-like markings. The foliage is bright green and lightly scalloped along the edges. The smaller flowered annual hybrids are often referred to as “violas.” Trailing varieties such as ‘Purple Rain’ are perfect for containers and baskets.
Features: blue, purple, red, orange, yellow, pink, white or multi-colored flowers
notes: Because of the long growing season, pansies must be occasionally fertilized through winter.