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The viola flower is a small plant with colourful blooms about 1 to 2 inches in size. The viola bloom may be one colour or a mix of colours. The flower springs up on a short slender stem and blooms early in the year through the fall. The small green leaves hug the ground around the plant stem. The violas are easy to grow from seed or as bedding plants.
Sow viola seeds directly into the ground. Plant early in spring as the seeds sprout slowly. Once established, they grow, bloom and self-seed through the garden. Violas grow best in rich, well-drained soil, but seeds will also grown between rocks, on slopes and in planters. They bloom early in spring and through fall if partly shaded. Violas are easy to plant as bedding plants. Garden centres carry individual plants and bedding flats ready for landscaping.
Use the violas for spot colour, borders and mass plantings. Though many violas are perennials, they are usually grown as annuals and should be replaced regularly. The plants grow straggly and bloom inconsistently after the first year or two. Violas partner well with other flowers and around shrubs. They are profuse seeders and will spread seed easily into soil, rockeries and grasses. The varieties known as viola flowers and Johnny jump ups often spring up in lawns. Their cheerful little flower faces are usually tricolour with mixes of white, yellow, blue, or purple. They add colour to--and will not harm--grass or dichondra lawns.
Keep violas out of direct summer heat. They like sun to part shade. Hot sunlight and dry summers wither the plants. Violas are also vulnerable to fungus diseases if kept too wet. The leaves need to dry between watering. When violas are infested with insects, the aphids and cutworms are controlled with chemical or organic insecticide. Slugs and snails thrive in the same cool and moist conditions as violas, and they are a serious threat in some regions.
Violas put out small slender seed pods after blooming. Johnny jump ups and viola tricolours are especially easy to sow. The tiny seeds pop readily from dry pods. Gather the seeds by plucking the pods when they are dry but not yet open. Drop them in a can or other container. The pods will split open, and loose seeds can be scattered in fall or late winter.
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