When to Plant Viola Seeds for Success

Violas, also known as pansies, are cheerful, colorful flowers that can brighten up any garden. Though they look delicate, they are cold hardy and easy to grow from seed. Timing is key when starting violas from seed, so knowing exactly when to plant is important.

Violas: A Brief Overview

Violas are low-growing flowers in the Violaceae plant family. They produce abundant blooms in shades of purple, blue, yellow, white, and multi-colors The flowers have five petals and a “face”, with dark lines radiating from a pale center Though often called pansies, true pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) are a hybrid of violas.

Violas are short-lived perennials in zones 8-10, but grown as annuals in cooler climates. They thrive in cool weather and can even tolerate light frosts. Violas and pansies are edible, bringing color and a mild, sweet flavor to salads and desserts. They also make delightful cut flowers.

When growing violas from seed, timing is critical. Violas take 10-14 weeks from seed sowing to reach blooming size. They must be started well in advance of planting out.

When to Sow Viola Seeds Outdoors

Fall sowing – In mild climates (zones 8-10), viola seeds can be directly sown in late summer to early fall for plants that will winter over and bloom profusely in spring. Scatter seeds and lightly rake them in. This takes advantage of natural winter chilling that violas require

Spring sowing – Sow seeds directly in the garden 2-4 weeks before the last expected spring frost Protect newly sprouted plants from hard freezes This will give violas time to establish before summer,

Summer sowing – Not recommended. Violas will likely bolt and fail to bloom if sown in summer for fall bloom. Start seeds indoors instead.

When to Start Viola Seeds Indoors

For most climates and seasons, starting viola seeds indoors is best. This gives you full control over planting and bloom times.

For spring bloom – Start seeds indoors 12-14 weeks before your last spring frost. Harden off and transplant seedlings outdoors after danger of frost.

For winter bloom – Start seeds indoors 14-18 weeks before your first expected fall frost. Acclimate seedlings and transplant into the garden late summer to early fall.

For specific holidays – Count backwards 14 weeks from your target bloom date. Christmas and Easter violas should be sown in September. Halloween or autumn violas should be sown in July.

Tips for Planting Viola Seeds Indoors

  • Use fresh seed starter mix and containers with drainage holes. Moisten soil before planting.

  • Sow seeds 1⁄4 inch deep. Viola seeds need darkness to germinate, so cover trays.

  • Germination takes 4-10 days at 65-70°F. Move to light immediately after sprouting.

  • Grow seedlings under lights, 1-2 inches above foliage. Thin overcrowded plants.

  • Transplant viola seedlings after 4-6 weeks when they have 2-4 leaves. Harden off before planting out.

  • Pinch back leggy plants 1-2 weeks before transplanting to encourage bushy growth.

Ideal Conditions for Growing Violas

  • Soil – Rich, humusy, moisture-retentive soil amended with compost. Neutral to slightly alkaline pH.

  • Sun – At least 4-6 hours of direct sun per day. Morning sun is best in hot climates. Afternoon shade prevents wilting.

  • Temperature – Optimal between 60-70°F during the day and not below 45°F at night.

  • Water – Keep soil consistently moist but not saturated. Avoid wet foliage.

  • Fertilizer – Use a balanced organic fertilizer or one formulated for blooming plants. Feed monthly.

Direct Sowing Viola Seeds in the Garden

Though starting violas indoors provides the most control, direct sowing in the garden is an option in some regions.

Spring – After final frosts, sow seeds directly in prepared garden beds. Scatter seeds, then lightly rake into the top 1⁄4 inch of soil. Water gently to avoid washing seeds away. Thin seedlings to 4-6 inches apart.

Fall – In early fall in zones 8-10, sow seeds where plants are to grow. The natural winter chill will trigger germination the following spring. Protect young sprouts from harsh weather.

Ongoing care – Keep soil moist, fertilize monthly, and remove spent blooms. Mulch around plants to retain moisture and cool roots. Avoid fertilizing after September to prevent winter damage.

Bloom Periods for Violas

  • Spring – 12-14 weeks after starting seeds indoors in January/February. Direct sow in March/April where winters are mild.

  • Summer – Poor performance unless protected from heat. Start seeds in January/February for summer color where summers are cool.

  • Fall & Winter – 14-18 weeks after starting seeds in July/August. Direct sow in September/October in zones 8-10.

  • Overwintered – Fall-sown or transplanted violas bloom vigorously in spring. Keep plants actively growing through winter.

Extending the Bloom Season

Here are some tips to maximize the viola bloom period in your garden:

  • Provide afternoon shade in hot climates to prevent wilting.

  • Remove faded flowers to encourage new blooms instead of seed production.

  • Apply organic fertilizer monthly to refuel plant energy.

  • Mulch plants to keep roots cool and moist in summer and insulated in winter.

  • Ensure adequate sunlight and air circulation.

  • Keep soil consistently moist during droughts so plants don’t go dormant.

  • Protect plants from hard freezes in spring and fall by covering with fabric row covers.

Planning ahead is the key to enjoying violas at their peak bloom whenever you desire. Follow the timing guidelines for your climate, and you’ll have cheerful color in your garden right when you want it.

How to Sow and Plant Viola Flowers

Viola can be grown from seeds that are planted early indoors and then moved outside after the first frost, or it can be planted in a pot.

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How To Sow Viola And Pansy Seeds / Planting Violas


What month do you plant violas?

Plant name
Plant seedlings/transplants outdoors (spring/fall)
March 15-April 1
March 15-April 1
March 15-April 1
March 15-April 1

Are violas hard to grow from seed?

Violas are easy to start from seed. They are quite happy to self-seed all over your garden, but in cold climates, the volunteers might not bloom until quite late in the season. If you would like to start your own indoors, the process is very straightforward. Start seed about 8 to 12 weeks before transplanting.

Can you plant viola seeds in the fall?

Violas will tolerate a light frost. In climates with mild winters or in tunnels, violas may be sown late summer to fall.

How long do viola seeds take to grow?

Violas are easy to grow from seed, they will be ready for transplanting within 4 to 6 weeks, and flowering within 12 to 16 weeks. They are best planted during late summer into early autumn, or late winter into early spring. Keep the seed chilled before sowing it and avoid sowing in high temperatures.

How do you grow viola seeds?

Temperature and Light: Viola seeds require a consistent temperature of around 60-70°F (15-21°C) for optimal germination. Keep the seeds in a warm location, away from drafts and extreme temperature fluctuations. Additionally, provide them with ample light but avoid direct sunlight, as it can overheat the seeds.

How do you plant a viola plant?

Transplant to cell packsor larger containerswhen the first true leaves appear. Harden off and transplant outside. Violas will tolerate a light frost. In climates with mild winters or in tunnels, violas may be sown late summer to fall. Direct seeding is not recommend. LIGHT PREFERENCE:Sun/Part Shade. PLANT HEIGHT:Varies. PLANT SPACING:6-9″.

When should violas be planted?

Aspect & position: Plant your violas at the front of the border or in containers. Sow viola seed undercover in the spring in March and April or in the autumn in September and October. Plant out seedlings in the spring. If growing winter-flowering varieties, these can be planted out in the winter months.

Can violas grow from seeds?

Violas can be easily started from seed or transplanted from established plants. For growing from seeds indoors, sow the seeds 6-8 weeks before the expected last frost. Once they are a few inches tall and have some true leaves, transplant them to their final growing location. Violas will bloom through May in the low desert of Arizona .

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