Who can tell me a foolproof method to grow violets from seed?

MartinaJune 1, 2002

I mean the ordinary small fragrant violets (viola odorata, I think). Three attempts failed already, although I always followed the instructions on the seed package! Please help.

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jannie(z7 LI NY)

Martina-I have also had bad luck with viola seeds. Tried plants from springhill a few years ago,they died within a few weeks. I'll be watching to see if anyone has good techniques to share!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2002 at 8:10PM
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Mike Hardman(Cyprus, 100m altitude)

Martina - this forum already contains guidance on this matter - you can use the search facility, which I've already done for you - link below. Mike

Here is a link that might be useful: Seeds-related postings on this forum

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 12:41PM
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News! I put the seeds in a small pot with compost and put them one week in the freezer. After that, the seeds showed at their end something that I think are rudimentary roots. I took them out of the freezer and out them in the fridge, where they thawed. The small white tips at the end of the seeds have grown but are not yet real roots. Should I leave them in the fridge until they are fully germinated or should I take them now out and keep them warm? Any advice is appreciated.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2002 at 3:02PM
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Mike Hardman(Cyprus, 100m altitude)

The seeds no longer need the cold - you have broken their dormancy. Well done!

You can keep them in the fridge a while longer - until the seed leaves start to emerge from the seeds. But then the fridge will be too dark (unless you keep the door open or 'modify' the door-operated switch!). Take the pot out but keep it cool and keep the compost just slightly moist (if you let it dry and if the seeds are on the top, they could have difficulty working their roots into the compost). Also give the pot good air circulation (to reduce chances of fungal attack) and keep it in good light but out of direct sunlight. At this stage it can be beneficial to spray with a fungicide to help prevent damping-off - where the seedlings get attacked at ground level and keel over and die; but it is not vital.

As the seedlings develop over the next month or so, they will be able to tolerate higher temperatures and drier air, so you can aim to gradually move them to a shady porch (say) outside. But keep an eye on them for watering - they won't have much resilience while young - it is all too easy to kill them by just one day's oversight. If you put your pot in a larger one lined with newspaper, and make sure the newspaper gets soaked when you water, that will provide a slightly softer atmosphere and if they roots make it out of the pot, they will have a larger reservoir of moisture to tap into (but without the waterlogging that could arise if you were to repot into a larger pot prematurely).

When the first true leaves have become clearly recognizable, you can consider potting the seedlings up individually or maybe in pairs, or you could plant them all in a larger pot. When handling the seedlings, try to do so just by the seed leaves - try to avoid touching the stem. It is a little like a cat picking up a kitten by the scruff of the neck - it looks cruel but really it is the safest way of doing it.

I'm sure other folks will have somewhat different techniques and tips; you, too, will have to learn what works for you.

Stick with it Martina - I'm sure your perseverence will pay off.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2002 at 6:31PM
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rob_peace(VIC Aust)

most of my failures with seeds of all kinds lead me to one fundamental piece of advice which applies to all seeds:

the germination, no matter how low the percentage, is better in the pot than in the packet.

so don't wait! sow the seeds now, whatever the time of year! by the time the 'correct' time comes around, the packet will be hidden at the back of your bill file and all will be lost!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2002 at 3:33AM
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JuneL(z8 Puget Sound)

Rob -- That was just the bit of encouragement I needed. I have so many seed packets languishing on my kitchen counter crying waste! neglect! procrastination! Just plant the blankety-blank things and see what happens. Another version of you won't catch any fish if your bait is not in the water, or some such. Thanks for the gentle push.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2002 at 12:04AM
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camiafan(Killeen, TX)

Would anyone please tell me where I can buy seeds of viola odorata? Thanks.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2003 at 1:09AM
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I am not aware of any foolproof methods to grow anything from seed but the method that I have used for true violets from seed seems to work - most of the time.
The seed is planted in shallow trays in a good germinating mix, usually peat mixed with about a third of fine vermiculite. The seed is sown, and then just barely covered with a bit of the soil mix or use just plain vermiculite. The seed trays are then put OUTSIDE in a coldframe and exposed to weather conditions through the early fall, winter and then to spring, when the seed germinates sometime in March or April. I leave the seedlings in the tray until later in the summer when they are then transplanted to thier final position in the garden.
I have tried artificial stratification using the fridge and have had poor if any germination from the seed. I found out about the outside weather condition treatment for the seed when one year the trays that did not germ were left in the coldframe and forgotten until the following spring when the seed came up and grew well. The reason this method works is because the seed is subjected to natural conditions that allow it to overcome its seed dormancy. The fluctuating temperatures, the freeze/thaw cycle is what the seed needs in order to germinate. Give it a try - it works for me.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2003 at 4:05PM
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mareas(OR Zone 8)

Martina, I was just scrolling down to give you my answer, and found that 2 of the answers are the same as mine: plant well protected outside and don't keep soggy and wait for the garden to sprout itself. Also, I am blessed with many colonies of Violet Odorata, purple, pink and white, and will share some plants with you if you want.
I just ordered some fancy seeds and it was so fun and comforting to find that friendly, experienced Viola growers will be here when I need them!
:-) Marea

    Bookmark   November 27, 2004 at 3:23PM
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Thanks for all the answers ... I must admit, in the meantime I gave up completely growing them from seed and bought four grown-up plants ("Queen Charlotte") ... Now at last I have violets in spring and autumn.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2005 at 8:28AM
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