Violas belong to the genus Viola and the violet family, Violacaea. They are a large group of over 500 species, made up of small shrubs and herbaceous plants.
Several violas are extremely popular in the gardening world, and are classified into distinctive garden types! These are pansies (Viola x wittrockiana), Johnny-jump-ups (Viola tricolor and others), and Violets (V. cornuta, V. odorata, and V. riviniana, amongst others).
Most viola flowers are found growing in temperate climates, with many species occurring in the Andes Mountains in South America. They generally bloom over the cooler seasons, although some species and varieties are summer bloomers. Violas are easily recognized by their distinctive 5-petaled flowers, and some species even have a sweet fragrance!
Pansies and Johnny-jump-ups are particular favorites within the viola group and are hugely popular for spring/winter displays. They grow well in both containers and beds, making them perfect for patios, balconies, cottage-style gardens, and more! Due to their popularity, garden variety violas have been heavily cultivated, leading to hundreds of wonderful hybrids and cultivars, in a myriad of colors, sizes, and forms.
Unique Violet Varieties To Grow In Your Garden
#1 Corsican Violet (V. corsica)
The Corsican Violet is a delicate perennial viola that grows just under 8 inches tall. It has small flowers that grow over 1.5 inches across with non-overlapping petals. Its flowers are usually purple-violet with darker rays and yellow and white centers, however, they can sometimes be yellow. In the wild, these wonderful plants bloom from spring to early summer, but cultivated plants can flower from spring to fall!
#2 Dog Violet (V. riviniana)
V. riviniana or the Dog Violet is a mat-forming perennial violet that grows in a range of habitats. The Dog Violet is low-growing, with a final height of 5 inches, and in the wild, it can be found in woodlands, heathlands, grasslands, and hedgerows. This viola plant has heart-shaped leaves and dainty violet flowers with pale spurs. It is a great choice for wild or woodland gardens, growing well in moist but well-draining soils.
#3 Horned Violet (V. cornuta)
The Horned Violet, also known as the Horned Pansy and the Tufted Violet, is a popular viola species used by many gardeners as a bedding plant! It has a spreading habit and can grow as wide as 12 inches! It typically grows as a perennial but is also sometimes grown as a biennial or as an annual. They begin blooming in spring, so they are a wonderful companion plant for other spring plants like tulips. Horned violet flowers are two-toned in colors of white, lavender, and blues.
#4 Penny White Jump
Penny White Jump is a horned violet cultivator that flowers from spring to fall. It is a member of the Penny series and grows between 4 and 6 inches tall and wide. It has a mounded habit and needs to be planted in full sun to partial shade. Its blooms are strikingly beautiful with white petals and purple wings and a yellow center. Penny White Jump is a prolific bloomer and looks fantastic planted en masse!
These sunny viola flowers are a part of the Sorbet series. They have bright, honey-colored flowers with rich brown blotches on their faces, and dark brown centers and whiskers. This compact viola variety grows as tall as 8 inches with a spread of 9 inches. They are wonderful for patios, cottage-style gardens, and alpine gardens, and their hardy blooms will brighten up the garden from late winter into late spring.
#6 Lilac Ice
Without a doubt one of the most beautiful violas available, Lilac Ice is a compact, mounding plant with fragrant blooms. It is a hardy viola, making it both frost and shade tolerant. It grows between 6 and 8 inches tall and wide and has pretty icy purple-pink flowers that have golden yellow centers and deep purple whiskers. Lilac Ice is perfect for both fall and spring plantings and looks best planted in large groups.
Marina is a truly unique viola type. Its striking face has pale purple-blue faces, white wings, and yellow and deep purple centers that fade to white. It is an extremely popular variety, with the potential to flower in late summer, fall, winter, and spring, depending on its planting time! Marina looks wonderful in container displays, especially when paired with other horned violets! It has a height and spread of 6-8 inches and a mounding growth habit.
#8 Pink Wing
This delightful viola plant has delightfully fragrant flowers. Like other members of the Sorbet series, it is more tolerant of summer heat than other violas, with the potential to bloom over spring, summer, and fall! Plant Pink Wing in container gardens, patios, cottage-style garden borders, and alpine gardens. It has a white face with a pretty purple-pink marking on its lowermost petal, a yellow center with deep purple whiskers, and pale purple-pink wings.
#9 Ruby Gold Babyface
Ruby Gold Babyface is a bold viola variety that looks sensational when planted en masse. It has a mounding habit with a height and spread of 6-8 inches, and the potential to bloom in fall, winter, and spring. It has velvety maroon flowers with a striking bright yellow central blotch marked with deep red-brown whiskers.
#10 Johnny-jump-ups (V. tricolor)
Viola Tricolor, also known as Johnny-jump-ups, wild pansy, and heartsease, are lovely little viola flowers that can be grown as annuals, biennials, or short-lived perennials. They produce a profusion of flowers over spring, summer, and fall, and usually have dark purple wings, pale yellow or purple faces, and a dark yellow lowermost petal. Their faces have dark whiskers, and their blooms are small and delicate, growing just under 1-inch across. They are wonderful in both containers and garden beds!
#11 Pansy (V. x wittrockiana)
Pansies are one of the most popular viola types amongst gardeners! Compared to other viola species, they have relatively large flowers and have been bred to come in a variety of showy colors.
Some pansy cultivars have a trailing habit, making them a top choice for hanging baskets, whereas others have beautiful ruffled petals, which are fantastic for livening up container displays.
#12 Cool Wave Golden Yellow
Cool Wave Golden Yellow is a member of the Cool Wave series. It is a sunny viola variety, with sunshine yellow flowers that are decorated with dark whiskers. This plant has a trailing habit and will trail as long as 30 inches! Plant it in hanging baskets or large containers, where its blooms will tumble attractively over the edge of its container. Cool Wave Golden Yellow has medium-sized blooms that have a slight fragrance. It is a cold-tolerant viola so it makes a great choice for winter gardens.
#13 Cool Wave White
Cool Wave White is a delightful pansy cultivar. Its blooms have pure white petals, golden yellow centers, and dark brown whiskers. Compared to other violas, these flowers are large, making them perfect for container gardens and patios where their showy blooms will be sure to grab attention. Cool Wave White has a spreading habit and will spread as wide as 30 inches and as tall as 8 inches!
#14 Delta Premium Blue Morpho
This striking pansy can bloom in both spring and fall with the right care! It looks amazing in mass plantings due to its bright and showy flowers that are larger than other viola species. These flowers have lightly frilled petal edges, dark purple wings, and yellow faces that fade to an attractive purple-blue towards their edges. Its face has distinctive blue whiskers that are easily spotted on its upward-facing blooms.
#15 Frizzle Sizzle Burgundy
A truly stunning and eye-catching plant, this viola variety is known as a ruffled pansy due to its incredibly ruffled petals! It makes a unique addition to containers, beds, and borders, and, being a cool-season viola, it is great for winter gardens and prefers cooler weather. So much so that its petals become even more ruffled with cooler conditions. Frizzle Sizzle Burgundy has rich, burgundy flowers with almost black veining and bases that are flushed with a darker tone.
#16 Frizzle Sizzle Lemonberry
Another delightful ruffled pansy, Frizzle Sizzle Lemonberry has pale yellow flowers with raspberry pink edges and distinctive dark red blotches at their base. It is wonderful in cottage-style or informal gardens, but would also look lovely growing in containers. It is a cool-season viola type that grows between 6 and 9 inches tall and wide. Its flowers grow as wide as 3 inches and will become even frillier in cooler weather!
#17 Jolly Joker
Jolly Joke is a compact plant that only grows as tall as 8 inches. As a pansy, its flowers are larger than other viola varieties, growing up to 2.5-3 inches across. It has attention-grabbing blooms that are fiery orange with contrasting velvet purple wing petals. Plant Jolly Joker in a container, courtyard, or city garden to bring a pop of much-needed color.
#18 Panola Fire
Panola Fire is a compact viola variety. This perennial pansy blooms from late winter to early spring and has beautiful dark green foliage. Its flowers are rich, dark orange-red flowers that have golden yellow edges. The blooms also have yellow centers and an almost-black central blotch. This type is wonderful for underplanting shrubs and roses, and its warm color looks fantastic in winter container displays!
#19 Ultima Radiance Red
One of the best choices for a viola container display, Ultima Radiance Red is a mound-forming pansy with a compact growing habit. It only reaches 6 inches tall and wide but has showy, medium-sized flowers. Its flowers are vivid red and have a golden yellow blotched face, painted with dark red whiskers. It works well as a standalone plant or paired with other contrasting-colored violas!
#20 Sweet Violet (V. odorata)
The Sweet Violet, Viola odorata, is the perfect addition to any shade garden, plus, it has a delicious scent! These plants bloom from late winter to early spring, bringing some much-needed life into the garden. They are compact, growing between 6 and 10 inches tall, but spreading 12-18 inches wide. Sweet Violets prefer partial shade, but they can tolerate full sun in areas that experience cool summers. Use them for beds and borders, container gardens, and for underplanting shrubs and roses.
#21 Woolly Blue Violet (V. sororia)
This perennial violet grows as tall as 6 inches. It has pretty blue-violet flowers that are less than 1 inch wide. They appear over spring on leafless stalks, preferring full sun to partial shade conditions. Woolly Blue Violets are a great choice for rock, coastal, and cottage-style gardens.
Freckles is a pretty viola variety and Wooly Blue Violet cultivar! Growing up to 8 inches tall, it has rich green foliage and small, delicate blooms. Its flowers are white with violet speckled and pale yellow centers. Freckles blooms over spring and should be grown in rich soil in full sun or partial shade. Plant it in coastal, patio, and rock gardens.
#23 Viola ‘Bridie’ (hybrid)
Bridie is a beautiful viola hybrid that deserves a place in every garden! This evergreen perennial emerges over spring and summer and has delightfully scented flowers. Its flowers have ruffled petal edges and are cream to pale yellow, with violet edges. It reaches a final height of just under 10 inches, making it suitable for container gardens, as well as beds and borders in cottage-style, informal, and city gardens!
#24 Viola ‘Clementina’ (hybrid)
Clementina is a top viola flower for coastal, cottage-style, and container gardens! Its bright flowers are wonderful for adding a pop of color to patio gardens over spring and summer. It is a tufted perennial that grows up to 6 inches tall with purple-pink flowers kissed with white and golden-yellow centers.
We hope you enjoy reading these types of violets. Don’t forget to pick up a few varieties and start growing.
Clemson Cooperative Extension, Pansies and Johnny Jump Ups https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/pansies-and-johnny-jump-ups/
The National Gardening Association, Viola ‘Clementina’
The Royal Horticultural Society, Viola sororia ‘Freckles’
The Royal Horticultural Society, Viola ‘Bridie’
The Royal Horticultural Society, Viola riviniana