any1 grows viola?

nirenjoshi(7b)August 26, 2010

I just bought some Viola skippy Red gold seeds from Park seed. I would like to know if they will flower through the winter here in Raleigh.

If I plant the seeds now, will I see flowers in Fall? will the plants survive our winter? And will they flower in the winter? And if they survive, will the same plants then flower in the spring?

Park seed lists them as cold hardy and heat tolerant and they are supposed to be perrinial. So I am hoping it will be ok to sow the seeds indoor now and then transplant them after 3 weeks.

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tamelask(z8a NC)

Viola are just like pansies- they will truly flower fall, winter and spring here and peter out when it gets up to the high 80's/90's of early summer. I don't know if it's too late to start with seeds- some will tell you yes, but i have started with plants in november (i typically plant my bulbs and pansies at the same time, over Tday weekend) and they are fine. If you started seeds now, INSIDE, (too hot outside) they'd be about transplant size by nov. So, while you'll find plants very soon in the garden shops to plant, you can start from seed now, or save them for next yr and buy some plants and get started more quickly this year. Up to you. If you keep the seed, keep it somewhere cool & dry- ie: the fridge and they will hold much better. They are not perennial, but they will reseed around a bit.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 11:35AM
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Thanks, tamelask!
I might just sow them this week then.
Park Seed listed them as perennial..
If I put them in containers, how big the container should be? Do they have deep roots?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 11:51AM
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tamelask(z8a NC)

Do you mean to start the seeds or what they end up in? They have fairly shallow, small root systems and are happy in just about any container. I'd start the seeds in a flat- go to any big box and grab a flat of peat pellets or cell packs and the base (and many have the lid, too) and use that. When you plant them when they've sized up they can go into most anything- the ground, pots, whatever. Just remember the smaller the pot, the fewer the plants and you'll have to water more, and if it gets really really cold, they may need a bit of protection in a small plastic pot (the roots will get too cold). In the ground or a larger pot there are no worries about that here. I've seen them covered in an inch of ice, still blooming, then they look bad for about a week and bounce right back.

Doesn't matter if park listed them as perennial- i guarantee about mid june they're gone. I'm not sure where violas are perennial- they sure weren't back home in PA, and i'd think a zone or 2 colder than here they'd die in the winter, whereas here it's the heat that gets them, so i really think that's false advertising.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2010 at 11:35AM
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Thanks! I am going to start them off in flats then.
I might just dig a portion of my lawn and plant them in the ground when they reach transplant size.
I guess digging 3-4 inches and filling it with some cheap top soil should enough, right?
I hate digging the hard clay soil and the bermuda lawn. I hope to convert parts of it to flower beds slowly..

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 1:22PM
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tamelask(z8a NC)

Well, you could do something called lasagna gardening while you're waiting for the seedlings to get big enough to transplant. You can google that- there's tons of info out there. basically, you lay down a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard and build up with layers of leaves, compost, old soil, etc, layering like you would lasagna. Just push back a little hole for your seedlings & close it back up. Don't worry about digging down into the clay. Within a season or 2 you'll have rich fluffy soil, and as the worms pull it down, it will eventually work its way into the clay. It's a super easy way to make a bed, and since you have time on your side, and you need time to do lasagna beds well, it work out great for you! You can either smother the grass or lift it first. Since it's bermuda, i'd probably opt to lift it first.

If you go the topsoil route, i'd use decent soil, not the cheapest you can buy, and i'd probably start with 1/2 pine bark fines to bagged or yard waste compost (which is cheap) rather than 'topsoil'. Rough up the clay layer somewhat. In fact, both the pine bark fines and yard waste compost make a great addition to the lasagna layers, so we're full circle again. Starting with the heavy newspaper or cardboard gives a great place for worms to hide, keeps the soil moist and smothers any grass you might have missed. The worms and termites eventually will eat it and the leafy layers and draw it into the clay and the clay into the top stuff. You won't believe how soft and fluffy that soil will be by next spring!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 4:13PM
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sounds wonderful! I am afraid I will have to "buy" stuff for the lasagna gardening. I dont have compost yet - I will start collecting all the kitchen waste now.
All I have is grass clippings. I can get newspapers and cardboards for free from somewhere. Maybe I can go around collecting bags of leaves when people start putting them by their curbs ( is it ok to do so? Does one need to ask permission?) But that will have to wait till the leaves start dropping..
Do you think the soil will become nice and fluffy by spring (March 2011), just by laying some newspapers and compost on top? If so, I am tempted to try this all around my house - like a flower border - hopefully attract butterflies and birds. I already have a few seedlings of butterfly weed and I bought several seeds - hollyhocks, balloon flower, echinacea, coreopsis, a few herbs plus I will collect seeds from my zinnia, cosmos and marigold.
I dont have a pickup truck, or I could possibly get the city compost. I could get a local garden center to deliver a couple of yards of garden soil, but then that could quickly become quite expensive. I'd rather not spend any more than I already have :)

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 4:48PM
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tamelask(z8a NC)

I totally understand! All of what you mentioned is certainly doable (and, yes, i'd ask permission, but if you don't feel like it you don't have to- most people won't care). No, you really don't have to spend much money at all. Grass clippings work fine- though i'd let it dry first. Straw would work well, too if you have a source for that. The more layers and differing stuff the better it's going to be. Yes, the soil will be wonderful by spring. then you just keep adding a layer of mulch over it a few times a year and the soil gets better & better.

If you do collect leaves, at least for your first bed, i'd chop them up well with your mower first- they'll break down lots faster. You can do whole leaves for the other beds that have more time to break down. You can also hit coffee shops for used grounds. You can thinly spread in non composted veggie scraps in between the layers and it'll rot down, just like in a compost pile (it's actually called line composting). Just make sure it's a layer or 2 down and well covered so as not to attract vermin. In lieu or addition you should definitely start your own compost pile! You can NEVER have too much compost and it breaks down by an incredible ratio.

As for picking up compost from the yard waste center without a truck- it's doable. Buy or borrow a couple of big trashcans or tubs, or line your back seat/trunk of your car with a tarp, and they can fill those. It's not as cheap as buying a truckload per cubic yard or scoop (which really is cheap- i think it's $25/load, and they often run buy one get one free if you can come back the same day specials). Also, some of the landscaping cos around have mulch & compost nearly that cheap ($30) that is much more reliable as to the quality. Yard waste center depends on what they make it out of, which is whatever they are getting in, and can have bits of plastic bags you have to pick out. A truckload will go a long way. Ask around- you may find you have a friend or coworker who'd loan or go in with you for a truckload. They load the truck with a backhoe & you have to take it off at home.

A way to get free or nearly free wood chips is to watch for a tree pruning co at work, and offer to take the materials from them. They sometimes have to pay to drop that off at landfills and are happy to dump it for free. Just be aware you won't be 100% sure of what you're getting- you could get briers and poison ivy mixed in, for instance. I've had great luck with that method, though. You do need to pick a spot and let it age and rot down a bit, esp if you plan to plant fast. Newly chipped wood uses lots of nitrogen in the process of aging, so you actually deplete your beds in the short term, which is why you don't use fresh wood chips or sawdust. You could watch craig's list or freecycle for opportunities like that- or even post. Just be aware that you shouldn't build a bed with a lot of wood materials in it right next to your hose foundation if it's wood frame, b/c of termites. I like to give a foot - 18" wide swatch of 8" deep gravel along my house- it keeps dirt from splashing back up on the house when it rains and it also give you easy access to windows or the backs of your beds. Also is a nice place to put potted stuff that needs a few degrees of protection.

Another cheap trick is to watch craig's list for people giving away horse manure for free or not much. There's a lady in southeast wake co who does it spring & fall and when i get the notice she's doing it, i normally make a post on here. Email me and i can give you her email and she'll add you to her list. Her manure is very well rotted down- a neighbor turns it regularly with a bobcat, and loads it the same way, so it's a pretty fast process. There are people who just do the trash can thing there, too.

All in all, you can spend as little or as much as you want. The more you spend, the more finished it is to start with, and normally you have to do a little less work, but a little time diminishes any difference. Start thinking outside the box and screw up your courage and you'll see opportunities everywhere! Good luck!!

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 6:22PM
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There are lots of perennial violas that do well here. I grow Viola Mars and Viola koreana 'Sylettas' and Viola 'Dancing Geisha'. In each case, the foliage is gorgeous, so the flowers are just extras. I grew Sylettas from seed. Placement is key, since they need to be evenly moist to almost dry, but never completely dry. About 2-3 feet from downspouts, nestled next to a rock works for me, but the deer here do love them.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 9:57AM
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tamelask(z8a NC)

yeah- you're absolutely right, brenda- i was thinking strictly of the 'mini pansy type' violas, not what i think of as 'violet' violas. Sounds like her seeds were for the mini pansy type, but maybe i'm wrong.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 11:01PM
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