Viola odorata, commonly known as the "English violet" or "sweet Violet," is a perennial flower native to Great Britain. Its blooms can be white, blue, or purple and are edible. Viola odorata seeds require stratification, which means that the seeds are dormant until "woken up" by cold weather. Because of this, it may be a year or more before a gardener choosing to plant English violets is able to enjoy his blooms. Once the plant blooms, however, it is self-fertilising and can reproduce without the aid of bees for pollination. Mature Viola odorata plants will reproduce rapidly and are considered to be invasive. To prevent new sprouts, gardeners should deadhead the blooms at the end of the growing season.
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Things you need
- Cold frame or refrigerator
- Soil tester
Stratify the Viola odorata seeds by placing them in a cold frame outdoors during the winter. If no cold frame is available, you may place the seeds into the refrigerator in a plastic bag full of damp sandy soil. Leave the seeds in the refrigerator up to 12 weeks or until the following autumn.
Choose a semi-shaded area for planting the seeds. Prepare the soil in the area you have chosen by adding manure or compost to the soil and working it 2 to 4 inches into the soil.
Test the soil using a soil tester. Viola odorata seeds grow best in acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7.5. If you need to increase the acidity of your soil, you can do so by adding aluminium sulphate, sphagnum peat or elemental sulphur.
Plant the seeds either in spring, four to six weeks before the last frost of the season is expected, or in autumn. Push the seeds into the soil to a depth of 1/2 inch to 1 inch and space the seeds 4 to 8 inches apart from one another.
Water the seeds twice a week.
Wait patiently. Viola odorata may sprout immediately or may lie dormant for an indefinite period of time if stratification of the seeds was performed improperly. Do not disturb the seeds or give up on them by planting other plants in the same area. Given time, the seeds will stratify on their own and sprout.
Fertilise the violets with an all-purpose fertiliser after they bloom and once each following season.
Add mulch to the area in which you have planted your violets after they sprout to keep the roots cool. This will ensure that the plants are kept healthy.
Cut the violets close to the ground at the end of the growing season, usually in mid to late April. This prevents the Viola odorata plants from producing unexpected seedlings during the autumn months.
Tips and warnings
- You can buy a soil tester at most hardware and garden supply stores.
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