Growing Parma Violets

helenaviolet(9b)October 11, 2012

Does anyone have helpful hints for growing Parma Violets in pots or the garden? Sometimes my healthy looking plants develop crumpled leaves and look miserable. On close inspection I have found aphids infesting the crowns and under the leaves; doing a lot of damage. Pyrethrum spray is effective in getting rid of them but, in time, they come back. The little blighters even crawl into the flowers. I didn't know they were there until I enlarged the pic: Aphids on V.parma 'Lady Hume Campbell'which I have posted here.

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marguerite_gw

I seem to remember that ants sometimes pollinate violets, and I know that they also farm aphids, so maybe there is a connection here. I also know ants dislike being hosed down, and that might wash off the aphids, so perhaps a regular, firm diffused spray would discourage the aphids and ants if there are any.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 7:16PM
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helenaviolet(9b)

Interesting connection. Oh yes I have ants all over the place and find them crawling into the flowers too. I quite believe they may pollinate the flowers. It would be nice if Parma violets set seed but I have never seen them. Certainly ants distribute seeds. You can get rid of ants safely from pathways and in the kitchen by dusting with plain cheap talcum powder. A bit messy at first but it works. The powder clogs their breathing holes and they just disappear.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 7:57AM
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scott_madison

Greetings all...
A question on Parma violets. I have a beautiful specimen of Duchesse de Parme that I summer outdoors and keep on an unheated southeast facing window during the winter months. It is currently coming into bloom and appears to have lots of buds developing. My question is on the fragrance of Parmas. I have always been under the impression that they are among the most fragrant of all violets.... Yet mine are all but scentless. Occasionally , I will get an ever so slight scent off of them... But not nearly the overpoweringly delicious fragrance I read so much about. The flowers are a light lavender color, very double and, when open, perhaps less than a half inch across... So I'm guessing it is, in fact, a Parma violet and not some mislabeled imposter. Any clues??

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 9:06PM
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dabney21(8)

hey scott..don't know if you ever found an answer but as a perfumer, i'm growing parmas & an odorata and the parmas are known for a having their own distinct scent used in the perfume industry but the singles are stronger scented.
I grow parmas in my glasshouse (NC) and the singles outdoors but i am in the process of moving some singles inside to act as ground cover; they get too mite-y during our hot summers and i want to have a closer eye on them & more summer shade.
JUst found this forum...have been looking for other viola pals for a while.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 11:55AM
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stefanb8(z7 MD)

Hi Scott,

If you're still checking in here occasionally, it seems unlikely that your plants would be misidentified, since there are very few double violets in general commerce today, none of them unscented. That leaves three possibilities: it could be something cultural that is affecting the strength of their fragrance, or it may be that your nose is not particularly sensitive to their scent, or it could simply be a question of reality not quite matching what you've imagined.

Cultural conditions may affect fragrance, and you could try making changes such as increasing their humidity and light or fertilizer a bit, just to see if anything helps. It's hard to say what if anything might be affecting their fragrance production unless you could grow the same plants under different sets of conditions and compare, but I've experienced very different levels of strength from violets and many other flowers simply from different weather conditions. To help answer the second question (and third), have you tested your nose on Viola odorata before? I don't find Parma violets to differ much in strength from well-scented forms of Viola odorata, but there is a sweeter quality to their perfume than most forms of V. odorata, and they don't seem to wear out my olfactory receptors in quite the same way. The number of flowers held to your nose together at a time affects the perceived strength, and most literature regarding the strength of Parmas was written in a time when they were so popular as to be ubiquitous as cut flowers in bunches, and worn frequently that way by women. One blossom is definitely pleasant when smelled up close and a plant in full bloom is certainly fragrant at a fairly short distance, but it is hard for me to imagine ever describing them as "overpowering"; I wish I could go back in time to enjoy that!

This post was edited by stefanb8 on Mon, Sep 23, 13 at 6:42

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 12:35AM
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