Source for Native Violet seeds

jcsgreenthumb(6b)April 26, 2004

Hi,

I am looking for a source for seeds for violets native to the eastern part of the U.S. I am going to take out some sod and replace it with violets as a groundcover and am hoping to grow some of the plants myself to save money.

Thanks!

Jeanne

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lrobins(z5 CO)

I've only found a few mail-order nurseries that specialize in seeds of native US wildflowers (violets or otherwise), and carry a large selection. Here are two well-known and respected ones, and the violets that they carry:

Prairie Moon Nursery (PMN) (catalog is in PDF format only, probably should download from their website)
http://www.prairiemoon.com/

PMN currently offers four species, V. palmata, V. papilionacea, V. pedata, and V. pedatifida, but seeds of only the last two. I would recommend V. pedatifida, the Prairie Violet, for your project, as it is a true native of Illinois, also it has interesting deeply dissected leaves similar to a bird's foot, one of a few species with this leaf form. (The other species offered as seeds by PMN, V. pedata, has a similar appearance, and a common name of Birdsfoot Violet. However, V. pedata has a strong preference for truly sandy soil; its ideal soil is described as coarse sand or even "pea gravel" mixed with organic material. V. petadifida should thus be easier to grow than V. pedata on most sites.) PMN also gives detailed germination instructions.

New England Wildflower Society (NEWFS)
http://newenglandwildflower.org/nursery.htm

NEWFS won't be selling seeds again until January 2005; their catalog lists five violet species: V. brittoniana, V. labradorica, V. pedata, V. rostrata, and V. striata.

Of these, the description of V. rostrata (Longspur Violet, named for the flower form) sounds especially promising for a groundcover: "Normally a violet colored violet, this form from member Bunny Traylor's garden is a pleasing rosy purple. Like Labrador Violet, this species begins as a heavily flowered clump, then creeps along during the growing season, becoming mat-like by fall then dying back to a central crown again. Self-sows readily." V. rostrata is an eastern species whose western limit is close to the Chicago area, according to the USDA database, so I think it "counts" as a true native for you. V. pedatifida and V. rostrata are both "upland" species that do well in relatively dry (but not desert-like) soils.

V. striata (Striped Cream Violet), definitely a true native (Chicago area), is taller (to 12 inches) and bushier than the others, and prefers more moisture - it usually grows in wet areas, unlike the other two. I think it would be worth trying all three; the color combination (typical violet, rose purple, and white with violet stripes) will be attention-getting if it works.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2004 at 12:15AM
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jcsgreenthumb(6b)

Thanks for the info! I saw that the NEWFS had violets but found out too late to order!

Since I am not able to find many seed sources I am trying to trade on the exchanges instead. A lot of people are happy to trade extra violets, at least the ones that spread more rapidly.

Jeanne

    Bookmark   May 3, 2004 at 5:56PM
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lrobins(z5 CO)

Hope you won't give up the idea of trying some seeds from Prairie Moon Nursery or, when available, New England Wildflower Society, to get a greater variety of violet species in your garden. My guess is that the less common species such as V. pedatifida, brittonia, rostrata, and striata are rarely found in seed exchanges.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2004 at 8:13PM
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jcsgreenthumb(6b)

Hi,

This year was the first year I tried native perennials from seed (got the seed from PMN) and I did relatively well, so I will likely try violets next year. I'm not too pickly about the ones I use for groundcover, but I do have an area where I have them as specimen plants.

Thanks!

Jeanne

    Bookmark   May 10, 2004 at 3:18PM
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