Huge numbers of pansies and violas for winter containers are sold every year to gardeners who love their colourful blooms. Summer-flowering perennial violas, on the other hand, are much less widely grown. Yet they’re a great choice for the summer and will earn their place in your garden with an incredibly long
flowering period, delightful blooms and lovely scent, plus they will grow back year after year.
Which? Gardening magazine rated 21 commonly available varieties of perennial violas to find the best for our gardens. To discover our recommendations, subscribe online to Which? Gardening or call 029 2267 0000.
Caption: Perennial violas, such as 'Icy But Spicy', flower year after year
Plant in sun or part shade into well-drained soil that doesn’t dry out in summer. Violas also grow well in pots of Best Buy compost.
Caption: Plant perennial violas in sun or part shade
CARING FOR YOUR PLANTS
Water them during any long dry spells of weather in summer to prevent the soil drying out. Water daily if growing in pots.
In July, straggly plants can be lightly trimmed with shears to take off the top 2-3cm of growth. In autumn, when flowering has finished, cut plants back to around 5cm high. Plants grown in reasonably fertile soil shouldn’t need feeding. In poor soil, feed with a general fertiliser in spring. Either add controlled-release
fertiliser to containers at planting time or liquid feed fortnightly with a high-potash feed such as tomato food.
Caption: Trimming plants in July will keep them well-shaped
PESTS AND DISEASES
Slugs target new growth in spring. Pick them off, apply a biological control or use organic pellets containing ferric phosphate to keep them at bay.
Aphids often attack the early growth in spring. Check the base of the plants where they tend to hide and squash any that you see to prevent them getting established.
Fungal diseases causing black leaf spots and downy mildew are common on perennial violas. Remove
affected leaves and stems if you see them. Fungicide sprays can help with leaf spots, but not downy mildew. Don’t replant violas where badly affected plants have been grown before.