Sweet Violet

Viola odorata | Also known as: Sweet Pansy, English Violet, March violet, Sweet pansy | Rating: 2 votes | Print / Pdf

Sweet Pansy - Honestly, is there any other kind?

Semi-evergreen and a confident spreader, Viola odorata is highly effective as groundcover or underplanting. Its large, heart-shaped dark green leaves form a thick, glossy basal rosette while its tiny violet or white flowers bring a splash of colour as early as late winter. Its common name is Sweet Violet, which is apt given the fact its strong, attractive scent has inspired perfumers to use it for centuries. It loves moist but well-drained soil, and does equally well in both full sun and partial shade. It is an excellent choice for beds and borders, as well as garden edging. Pruning dead flower heads is recommended.

Rate it:
Known dangers?
  • no
Height [m]
  • 0.2
Spread [m]
  • 0.3
Dominant flower colour
  • Varies
Flower Fragrance
  • Yes, let it smell
Flowering seasons
  • Late winter
  • Early spring
  • Mid spring
  • Late spring
Foliage in spring
  • Green
Foliage in summer
  • Green
Foliage in Autumn
  • Green
Foliage in winter
  • Green
Propagation methods
  • seed
  • division
  • stem tip cuttings
Growth habit
  • Spreading
  • Acidic
  • Neutral
  • Alkaline
Hardiness zone
  • Z6-8
Heat zone
  • H8-6
Winter temperatures [°C]
  • -23 - -7
Heat days
  • 45 - 120
  • well-drained
  • well-drained but frequently watered
Soil type
  • sandy
  • Clay
  • chalky
  • loams
Sun requirements
  • Full sun
  • Partial shade
  • Exposed
  • Sheltered
Standard category
  • Flowers & bulbs
  • Perennials
Grown for
  • Attractive Flowers
Creative category
  • Kid Approved
  • Fine fragrants
  • For Beginners
  • Colours
  • Show-offs
  • For birds & bees
  • Roses & classics
Garden type
  • Cottage garden
  • Containers
Garden spaces
  • Flower beds
  • Underplanting
  • Edging
  • Borders
Gardening expertise
  • beginner
Time to reach full size
  • 2 to 5 years
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Most home gardens have at least one species of the Viola genus. Small, dainty and colourfully vibrant, it has interchangeable common names, the Pansy and the Violet, but there is a difference between them: Pansy relates to large, multi-coloured cultivars; Violet relates to smaller cultivars. Typically boasting dark green, heart-shaped leaves, either as basal rosettes or on short stems, it is the blossoms these spring-blooming flowers are famed for. Typically, four of their five petals fan upwards, with the last sweeping downwards like a broad lip. Its colours can be anything, from orange to purple and white to red, with many cultivars boasting dramatic mixtures. Moist and well-drained soil is preferred, as is full sun. Pruning after flowering is recommended.

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One of the more distinct species in the Viola genus, Viola cornuta includes cultivars that sport luxurious mixtures of colours but that is not what stands out about it. Known as the Horned Pansy, the small evergreen perennial produces flowers with the expected five petals, but two of which are lanced-shaped and extend upwards, much like horns. It comes usually in sky blue, lavender and purple, and as good spreaders, the Horned Pansy can be quick to cover a large area. It thrives in moist but well-drained soil, and since it is happy in light shade can be an excellent option for underplanting. Pruning after flowering is recommended.

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