Wild Violets


In winter the gardener’s eye is scanning the landscape for anything and everything that will fill our enormous desire for the beauty to which we are treated all summer. And thus one is inclined to see what might otherwise have been lost in the splendor of roses and hydrangea, of trumpet vine and forsythia. Attention now focuses here on the lowly wild violet. I cherish this time of year as there is a large section of the front lawn that bursts with these tiny purple treasures and I delight in their beauty, fortitude, and resilience. But until this week I have to admit to having taken them for granted. Indeed, the only moment they really had placed themselves squarely on my inner radar was when I was researching butterfly habitat last summer, and made a mental note that the wild violet was hospitable to the eggs of the fritillary butterfly. I was glad to make note of their pragmatic presence.

In the many years I have been on this property I have let the violets spread where they will. I actually welcomed them into the crevices between the flagstone pavers I’d put down in front of the rose arbor. I thanked them, and they obligingly spread about.

Charmingly, they kept a pinkish lavender violet company which I’d purchased at a local nursery.

How did one end up in a pot for which I paid money, and one become part of the natural landscape? You tell me! Of course I assume the pink one is a hybrid. But the wild violet? How did it end up here? I have no idea. I know it’s tenacious. That answers many questions.

When I began to research the wild violet I was shocked and appalled and saddened to see how many references were regarding how to get rid of it. How to Remove Wild Violets from Your Lawn. Enter poisons, though even poisons apparently are not that effective. More aggressive than even I anticipated. But so not where I wanted to go with this post. My intention is to praise its beauty and express my gratitude that it has chosen to live here and delight my senses. And be a host to the lovely fritillary butterfly. Yes, I like that much better. Thank you.

For violets suit when home birds build and sing,
Not when the outbound bird a passage cleaves;
Not with dry stubble of mown harvest sheaves,
But when the green world buds to blossoming.

~Christina Georgina Rossetti

Probably one reason violets so appeal to me is that I am completely enchanted by small bouquets. Violets lend themselves perfectly to this passion of mine.


How very dear, indeed.

Love and winter gardening blessings,
Kathryn xoxoo

Footnote: Many thanks to Pomona Belvedere for teaching me this wild violet is formally known as viola odorata. Very helpful!

104 Responses to “Wild Violets”

  1. I’ve just stumbled across this post while searching for plants that would be able to live among my wild violets. I do, in fact, have a lawn full of violets. It looks rather sad, though, in the fall and early spring, with only bits of violet root sticking up.

  2. Hi, Deanne, That would be challenging. Mine grow within the lawn. There is so much emphasis on ridding gardens of lawns I bet you will find a nice ground cover recommendation. Good luck! Kathryn xoxo

  3. Where can I buy seeds for Violets, violet & white violets or plants that are real violets. No one near me in NY knows what I am talking about.

  4. Hi, Walter, If I were looking for violets I’d probably look at my local nursery, as, at very least, you can probably find hybrids, which are lovely. My second choice would be finding nurseries online who sell them. I have no idea how to find wild violets. I have an overabundance here in N. CA. They make themselves at home. I can’t verify how current this information is, but the American Violet Society lists resources here: http://americanvioletsociety.org/Resources/Plants.htm Good luck! Kathryn xox

  5. I didn’t realize how many people were “anti-Violet” until I was searching the internet trying to find a way to get the weeds out of our Wild Violet patch. I’m glad I found your lovely website. These little green burrs we always called “Stick-tights”, and Virginia Creepers seem to flourish amongst them, and it’s hard to pull the weeds without walking all over the Violets. (20 ft. by 20 ft.) For a couple days after weeding, I have a sore back and trampled Violets. I would appreciate any suggestions.


  6. Hi, Sam, and welcome to the Violet Lovers post. ๐Ÿ™‚ The only prescription I have for weed work is one of the lessons in my book, “When pulling up weeds, get the root.” ๐Ÿ™‚ Kathryn xoox

  7. In reply to Sam, continue to trample on your violets to pull out the unwanted plants, then step back and watch. Water if necessary. Violets are sturdy plants and will soon hide all signs of having been trampled.

  8. Hi, Ann, and welcome. So true! Violets are incredibly sturdy. Also they spread like heck. This will be welcomed by violet lovers, and spurned by those with other plans. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Kathryn xoxo

  9. Hello, I love the wild violets! They are the flower of Alpha Delta Kappa, my sorority for teachers! I potted some of them, hoping to get them to bloom again for a meeting in June. Do you have any suggestions to promote blooming or they finished after one blooming? I want to use them as centerpieces or favors. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for ideas!

  10. Hi, Peggy and welcome! In my experience violets bloom in their own natural rhythm. I personally would not try to force bloom them. You might find a hybrid at a nursery. I have a hybrid that bloomed after my wild violets, but even those are finished. Check with your local nurseries for another flower with similar coloring? Or, if you are set on violets I’d recommend African violets for your meeting. That you could do, and they could be taken home and cherished. Kathryn xoxo

  11. How can something be so beautifu
    L be killing everthing a rround it. C

  12. Hi, Walter and welcome! This made me smile. Yes, violets are hearty and genetically programmed to spread their beauty. I take it yours are not growing where they are welcome? Could you dig them up and put them somewhere that works for you and for the violets? I’m encouraging mine to grow into the lawn… ๐Ÿ™‚ Kathryn xoox

  13. Hi Kathryn!

    Like you, I was horrified to find how many people are looking to eradicate such a pretty little plant from their yards!

    The reason I found you is that I am looking for one piece of information: Once the little violets finish blooming does their foliage remain green until the first hard frost? As long as I have grown these things in my yard I’ve never paid any attention to whether the foliage stuck around or not.

    I have a shady yard with a maple out front under which nothing grows. I planned on planting under it with wild violets, along with a mixture of hostas and lily of the valley. I’d love to also toss in some forget-me-nots but am afraid they won’t get enough sun to do anything. Will the lily of the valley choke everything else out?

    I’m also leery that between the lily of the valley, forget-me-nots, and the wild violets the neighbors might set my lawn on fire as a preventive measure ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanks for any insights!

    Gristle in Michigan

  14. HI, Gristle, and welcome! I’m in California, so I would not be a good candidate to talk about what violets do in Michigan. Sorry. But this is what I can say about wild violets. They spread. Not obnoxiously. But consistently, relentlessly. For me that’s been a good thing. I’d like to replace the little lawn with violets, frankly. I love that I can run the lawnmower over them and they are as content as grass that they are simply “shorter”. They come back. So I’m sharing this as to point out they are very hardy. It does freeze here in winter, and they do just fine. They are green all year, here. Good luck! Kathryn xoxo

  15. I am so pleased to have stumbled across this! I grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota and still live in Minnesota. One of the pleasures of nature here are the purple and white wild violets. They can withstand anything. I am currently looking for ways to “naturalize” my yard and under the trees and these seem the perfect solution. Thank you all so much for the information.

  16. Hi, Coach Diane and welcome! Yes, I agree! I’m encouraging my wild violets to go where they will, especially in the lawn, along with a lovely little clover and all manner of things that are drought resistant, which is a consideration in California right now, as I’m sure you know. Glad you found good info here! Good luck with the transition! Kathryn xoxo

  17. Is there any way to rid one’s lawn of these highly invasive plants?

    Wild violets are coming from my neighbor’s field, and my deep shrub borders and turf areas are infected, making my gardening life miserable.

    Johnny Jump Ups live here quite nicely, yet the wild violets are rampant invaders coming up everywhere. Not sure why so many commenters are in love with this horrible weed!

    Has anyone successfully ridden their gardens of this thug?

  18. Hi, Diane and welcome. They pull up nicely. ๐Ÿ™‚ Kathryn

  19. Hello! I did a search to get advise about trimming the leafy greens down now in July and or transplanting them. What will happen if i trim them back!i do not think mine have ever been in bloom in the late fall or early winter… Only in our cool early springs of Central Ohio. I am working in my front flower bed now and there are a lot thus year,,, what will happen if i trim them back? And id it ok to move them in the heat of summer!? Thank you in advance for your advise! Should the bloom in November or December!??

  20. Hi, Judith and welcome! You can safely mow them and they will come back. They are very hardy. My best guess is that it would be OK to transplant in summer, but you might want to move a few and see what happens first, giving them a bit of time to adjust. They are a strong plant and they will take over an area, which has worked for me. I have a patch in which I plant nasturtiums annually and the wild violets technically “took over” except I can still plant nasturtium seeds among them and then at season’s end I can pull the dead nasturtiums and the wild violets hold the space with green foliage until the next spring. I don’t know when violets bloom in Ohio. You’re going to find out. ๐Ÿ™‚ Kathryn xoxo

  21. I got a beautiful surprise this summer.in the midst of a flower pot came a wild violet on its on . i didn’t plant it. Can’t waut to see it bloom.but foliage is beautiful.

  22. Hi, Mary, They are persistent sneaky plants! ๐Ÿ˜‰ They love to move about. How lovely for you! Enjoy! Kathryn xoxo

  23. Just found your website. I love Violets and found mounds of them today everywhere on my property. I so enjoyed just walking around and seeing how many I could find. And, picked a small bouquet for a mini Vase I have . Wonder if this means we will be having a mild Winter after all ? I never seem to have noticed Violets in November before. Hugs , LorieAnn

  24. Hi, LorieAnn, and welcome! Aren’t they a delight? I love small bouquets, too! I tend to think winter will be mild, but we shall have to see. Kathryn xoxo

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