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Viola odorata is often confused with:
Viola canadensis Viola canadensis
Native alternative(s) for Viola odorata:
Viola canadensis Viola canadensis
Viola sororia Viola papilionacea
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Viola pubescens Form
Thymus vulgaris Thymus vulgaris
Viola canadensis Viola canadensis
Viola odorata has some common insect problems:
Slugs and Snails Found on Flowers and Foliage

Viola odorata

Previously known as:

  • Viola wiedemannii
Phonetic Spelling
vy-OH-la oh-dor-AY-tuh
Description

Sweet Violet is native to Europe.  It has edible flowers and also a sweet, perfumed flavor.  They hail from a time when fragrance was utmost when choosing plants for a garden.  The fragrance of Sweet Violet is regarded as one of the most beautiful aromas in the plant kingdom.  The scent has found its way into perfumes.  

Having no stem, the flowers and leaves rise directly from long, horizontal, runners.  These runners or stolons have thin roots at the nodes.  The leaves are all basal, heart shaped with rounded lobes at the base.  They have teeth around the edges.  The tips of the lower leaves are more rounded, while the upper leaves are more tapering to a blunt tip.

Flowering takes place in the spring, however, it develops unopened and self-pollinating closed flowers later in the summer months.  The pollinated flowers form capsule fruits that hang down near the ground surface. The capsules open at ground lever or just under the soil.  Attracting ants, the oily outer portion of the capsules are taken and devoured by the ants.  What is left behind are the seeds that had been in the capsule. Perhaps in a location where it can develop.

It is not typically found in contemporary gardens.  However, it can still be found in old forgotten or neglected gardens.  It flourishes in shady, mossy lawns, so these old gardens that are left unattended are the perfect location.

Both the leaves and flowers are edible.  They can be candied or eaten fresh.  Both leaves and flowers can be added to salads, and used to embellish desserts and iced drinks.  Leaves can be cooked like spinach.

For a showy spring appearance, cut runners and prune spindly growth in the late fall.  

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Pests affecting this plant include slugs, snails, and red spider mite.  It is susceptible to violet gall midge, pansy leaf spot and powder mildew.

Its natural spreading habit can become weedy in some situations.  

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    White blooms
  • 'Clive Groves'
    Deep purple blooms
  • 'Queen Charlotte'
    Can spread up to 2'
  • 'Rosina'
    Rose colored blooms
  • 'Royal Robe'
    Blue-purple flowers with tiny white eye
  • 'White Czar'
    White blooms with cream throats and purple veining on bottom petal
'Alba', 'Clive Groves', 'Queen Charlotte', 'Rosina', 'Royal Robe', 'White Czar'
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#container plant#wildlife plant#showy#cut flowers#shade garden#low maintenance#winter interest#cottage garden#rabbit resistant#deer resistant#groundcover#long lifespan#rock gardens#cutting garden#larval host plant#container#butterfly friendly#pollinator garden#fritillary butterflies
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Alba'
    White blooms
  • 'Clive Groves'
    Deep purple blooms
  • 'Queen Charlotte'
    Can spread up to 2'
  • 'Rosina'
    Rose colored blooms
  • 'Royal Robe'
    Blue-purple flowers with tiny white eye
  • 'White Czar'
    White blooms with cream throats and purple veining on bottom petal
'Alba', 'Clive Groves', 'Queen Charlotte', 'Rosina', 'Royal Robe', 'White Czar'
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#showy flowers#fragrant flowers#container plant#wildlife plant#showy#cut flowers#shade garden#low maintenance#winter interest#cottage garden#rabbit resistant#deer resistant#groundcover#long lifespan#rock gardens#cutting garden#larval host plant#container#butterfly friendly#pollinator garden#fritillary butterflies
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Viola
    Species:
    odorata
    Family:
    Violaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe
    Wildlife Value:
    This plant supports Fritillary butterfly larvae. Ants feed on the oily white appendage.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Easy to Grow
    Fragrance
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    Leaves and flowers can be eaten.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 4 in. - 0 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 4 in. - 0 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Ground Cover
    Herb
    Perennial
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Creeping
    Horizontal
    Mounding
    Prostrate
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The 1/4" capsule is light purple, with short hairs.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Blue
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The 1/2" flowers are typically dark blue or purple. Variations including lilac, rose or white are also available. Having 5 petals, the lowest petal is larger than the others and have a spur.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The dark green heart shaped basal leaves are quite showy. They form a basal rosette. Sparsely haired. Often wrinkled on the upper leaf surface.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Stem typically leafless with scale-like bracts halfway or above.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Patio
    Pool/Hardscape
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Cutting Garden
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Rabbits