Confusion about violas being perennials or annuals??

gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)April 18, 2004

I got some violas in the "Annual" section of the garden center. The tag just said "viola mix" so I have no idea which kind they are. They have small dark purple flowers with a little yellow dot in the center and are about 8 inches tall. I'm a little confused about whether or not violas are perennial. I've read they are perennial, they are annual, they are self-seeding. If they are self-seeding annuals, I would assume mulching around them would prevent them from self seeding?

Does scent or lack of, indicate which type they are?

I've grown some Penny Lane Mix violas from seed this spring. They were in the perennial section of the seed catalog, but all the stores seem to have violas in the annual section. Does anyone know if Penny Lane violas are annual or perennial? Thanks,


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membertom(zone 6)

I think of the violas (the pansy-like ones -- not the species violets) as winter annuals. I plant them in the fall and expect them not to survive the summer heat. In this group, I would include the 'Penny Lane' and 'Sorbet' violas. I know that sometimes they are regarded as perennials. For me, however, they have always been very short-lived perennials -- usually not making it past one year, and never past two. From what I've read, the (pansy type) species -- Viola cornuta, was used with pansies to produce the violas. Viola cornuta is supposed to be perennial. Sadly, for me it hasn't been so, either. Maybe in the proper climate, Viola cornuta and the violas descended from it, are good perennials. But not for me, in Maryland.
Now as far as self-seeding goes, I've had a lot of that from pansies and violas. As the seed capsule opens and dries, each of its three boat-like pieces pinches down on the seeds, shooting them off in all directions. It's really neat to see or hear. I save seeds by putting capsules in plastic drinking cups with a tissue rubber banded over the top. As they dry, I'll get to hear the occassional "pings" of the seeds being ejected. Makes me think of bullets flying in an old western movie ;o)

    Bookmark   April 19, 2004 at 8:01AM
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Claire_from_Michigan(z5 MI)

I purchased a Viola cornuta "Rebecca" today and the label on it said it is a "perennial" but when I did some reading on it on the web, one site called it an annual, another a perennial... so I'm with you and confused too. It seems to me it depends on what zone you are in. From what I have read, they do not like the heat. So if you are in a warm climate, they probably don't make it through the summer. I'm just concerned that they won't make it through our winters, wondering if I should "cover" them or something??

Here's another site that is informative:

Here is a link that might be useful: Northwest Horticulure

    Bookmark   May 5, 2004 at 10:01PM
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kymmieann(z6 NJ)

I bought a few different violas this year Rebecca, Better Days and Etain they are suppose to be perennials. I also have Freckles which is a perennial it came back this year and it also reseeded. Im hoping these varieities above also are perennials.
Heres hoping

    Bookmark   May 5, 2004 at 10:22PM
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I have seeded Violas last year. They came up an bloomed very nice. This year, by the end of January, a millions of little Violas are starting to pop up where I seeded them last year and in more areas , even in the expansion joints of my driveway. Definetly a Perennial by seed here in Dallas, TX zone 8.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2009 at 2:54PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I have Viola 'Etain' here that I expected to be annual but was tagged perennial and they are going on their third year. Some are blooming now.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 11:50AM
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coolplantsguy(z6 Ontario)

This should help a little. Graham Rice from the RHS (I know that's the UK, but it should still apply), in his new book classifies them into the following three groups (note: all are from the genus Viola, despite one of the groups below also being called Viola).

Violet - includes Sweet Violets (V. odorata and its hybrids) which are usually hardy perennials, and the Parma Violets (which are less hardy).

Pansy - includes all forms of V. x wittrockaiana (hybrids of V. altaica, V. lutea, V. tricolor, and other speices). These are mostly annuals and biennials, and grown from seed.

Viola - includes all forms of V. x williamsii (hybrids of V. cornuta with cultivated Pansies) and other plants derived from V. cornuta. These are all mostly perennials, and usually propagated by cuttings. Good examples are the popular 'Etain', 'Rebecca' and the black-flowered 'Molly Sanderson', etc.

Each of these three groups is further divided into sub-groups based on flower form, etc.

Of course, species like V. labradorica, V. cucullata, V. pedata, and V. sororia stand on their own and are perennials.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 12:56PM
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@ coolplantsguy: Those three main categories are very interesting, since I've always been confused about the similarities/differences among violets/pansies/viola.

More specifically, I'm currently growing indoors from seed "Viola Princess Mix" (from Burpee seed), but I have no idea what species these seeds correspond to. DavesGarden, for example, only gives the genus (Viola) but no species, as does Burpee.

I suspected V. cornuta, but some cultivars look significantly different in images from the Burpee stock pictures -- and many are only hardy to zones 7+, rather than 4-8 quoted for the Burpee seed.

Does anyone know the correct genus+species for Viola 'Princess'?

Here is a link that might be useful: Burpee seed page for Viola Princess Mix (with image)

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 11:16AM
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