Violets in Bloom

Common Blue Violets (Viola sororia) in bloom in my garden.

Violets are blooming all over my garden. They spring up in full sun and in shade. Even in my small garden, there are variations of color in the blooms.

The violets in my garden migrate and reproduce all over my small garden. Violets reproduce seed with two outcomes. The early spring flowers open and cross-pollination can take place, as long as insect pollinators cooperate. Later in the summer violets produce closed flowers that insects can’t pollinate and the closed flower self-pollinates.

Violet (Viola spp.) in my gardenThe early spring flower’s seeds can produce flowers of great variety in shapes and colors. Hybrids between species are even produced. But the later closed summer self-pollinating flowers produce flowers just like the parent flower. This is something to remember when collecting seed to grow.

Common Blue Violets_Viola sororia
Common Blue Violets (Viola sororia) in bloom in my garden.

The seed are produced in a capsule and are ejected from the open capsule. Insects feed on plant including Fritillary butterfly larvae and thrips. Cut back leaves if damage mars their looks. The plants will be fine and recover the next spring.

Violets are hard-working groundcovers in areas of sun or shade in my garden. They pop-up on their own and are free. What more could I want?


Family: Violaceae
Soil – moist to dry, depending on species
Light: sun to shade
Height: from 3-12 inches, depending on species
Blooms: spring
Propagation: Easy-to-grow from seed, easy to transplant, self-sows
Host plant: Fritillary butterflies, Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia)
Uses: as ground cover and in naturalizing areas
Species are often sold at native plant sales.

Species native to Philadelphia

Viola blanda (incognita) Sweet White Violet – height to 1 foot – light: sun to shade – blooms: spring – white flowers with purple streaks from the center, purple leaves – habitat: moist woods and swamps

Viola labradorica (conspersa) – American Dog Violet – height: 2 – 6 inches light: sun to shade – blooms in spring, early summer – long spur behind the pale-violet flowers, “beard” of white hairs on the two side petals – habitat: moist woods and swamps

Viola sororia (papilionacea) – Common Blue Violet – height: to 1 foot – light: sun to part shade – blooms – spring, early summer – large blue violet flowers and downy heart-shaped basal leaves, low growing – habitat: dry to moist woods, swamps and thickets

Viola striata – Striped Violet – height: to 1 foot – blooms: spring, early summer – off-white to milk white flowers and alternate heart-shaped leaves – habitat: alluvial woods, alkaline swamps and floodplains; shade

Species information from the booklet, “Wildflowers” in Selected Native Plants of Philadelphia. Fairmount Park, October 2010.

Violet (Viola spp.) in my garden


  1. Violets are so pretty and I love how they just pop up …I had never noticed the seed head and will look for it…recently someone posted about all the violets in their neighbors lawn and that this person had too many….I don’t think you can have too many..they are a short-lived ground cover and a beautiful one at that…

    • Maybe violets are so under-appreciated because a person has to get down on hands and knees to really see how beautiful they are.

      To take these photos I practically had to lie on my stomach. What did the neighbors think!

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