Plant Violas Now For Fall To Spring Color

By Gary R. Bachman, MSU Extension Service

This past weekend, I planted the last of my Big Four must-have, cool-season color annuals: violas.

Violas are tough, and I think they tolerate cold winter weather even better than pansies. They perform well in landscape beds as well as in containers. They grow right through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and are still shining in the garden at Easter and beyond. It seems wherever I have planted them in my yard, they continue to reappear in various spots around the landscape for a least a couple more years.

Now is the time to start buying and planting the violas you’re going to need this winter. The selection now is really good with lots of variety available. If you snooze, you lose and may not find the colors you want.

Sorbet is a popular viola series, and I make a point to plant them in my garden and landscape every year. The plants are about 4 to 6 inches tall and wide. When massed, they seem to cover the landscape or container with a floral blanket. Sorbet violas resist stretching and stay compact through the season, even as temperatures start to rise in the spring. And the best thing about Sorbet violas is that their color selection seems absolutely endless. They display these colorful flowers above the foliage to really show them off.

All violas need to grow in consistently moist soil, and it is especially important to monitor moisture in containers. If the roots get a little dry, flower production will turn off. This is not a good thing. Be sure to plant violas in full sun and before the “real” cold weather sets in. This timing allows the root system to get established, and the gardener will be rewarded now and next spring with great color.