This well-known and much-loved genus includes over 500 species of annuals and perennials found in all the temperate regions of the world. Over 300 species are native to North America. Learn more about the native violet selection on our Northwest Natives Viola page.

Annual pansies and violas are invaluable for winter and spring color in Portland. They provide mass color in borders and flower beds. They are also perfectly suited to containers.

Perennial violas are smaller cousins of pansies that will bloom almost year-round in Portland. A dainty plant that fits in a mixed container or hanging basket, they are useful in planting beds, rock gardens, as a ground cover, and as additions to a mixed border. Preferring cooler weather for best bloom, they often put on a good show in spring, and then again in the fall through a mild winter.

Viola seeds

Most species are small clump-forming plants with lobed, elliptical, kidney- or heart-shaped leaves. All Violas have remarkably similarly shaped 5-petalled flowers, with the lower petal often carrying dark markings.

Historically Violets have been used for aromatherapy in perfume and sachets, in particular V. odorata. Their sweet fragrance is synonymous with the Victorian era.

Their brightly colored velvety flowers are edible and make a beautiful addition to salads, cheeses, dips & pâté. Include them in an edible flower or salad themed garden. Violets are made into sweet syrup used in making candy, baked goods and liqueurs. Soufflés, cream and similar desserts can be flavored with essence of violet flowers.

Candied Violets

A candied violet or crystallized violet, often used to decorate desserts, is a violet flower preserved by a coating of sugar syrup. Candied violets are still made commercially at Toulouse, France, where they are known as violettes de Toulouse.

Violets, whose blooms, leaves and roots are high in vitamins A and C, have been used medicinally.

Their blossoms are easily pressed; retain their color and shape, making them an ideal flower for arts and crafts projects.

You will find the best selection of annual bedding varieties at Portland Nursery during the early spring and again in the fall into winter months. Perennial varieties arrive spring into fall.

Some varieties you can look forward to finding at Portland Nursery include:

Viola cornuta

Bedding Pansy, Horned Violet is a perennial species that prefers shade.

Viola 'Columbine'

Viola 'Columbine'

Striking, heavily streaked, purple and white flowers. It has early, freely-blooming flowers and is a vigorous grower with a compact habit. 12" x 18"

Viola 'Etain'

Viola 'Etain'

Beautiful large, creamy yellow flowers accented by lavender purple edges. Its blooms are slightly fragrant. 12" x 18"

Viola 'Rebecca'

Viola 'Rebecca'

Impressionistic-looking flowers of cream, blotched with purple. This long blooming variety, with a compact tidy habit, is very attractive from afar. 9" x 12"

Viola 'Starry Night'

Viola 'Starry Night'

Graced with dusky lavender purple blossoms with a primrose yellow center. Its trailing habit makes it ideal for baskets and containers.
8" x 8"

V. labradorica

Viola labradorica

This perennial species makes a lovely ground cover with its broad mat of dark purplish foliage and deep violet purple flowers. Readily reseeds and can be aggressively invasive. 6"x6"

V. odorata

Viola odorata: Sweet Violet, English Violet, Common Violet, Garden Violet

This perennial species is native to Europe and Asia. The sweet, unmistakable scent of its flower has proved popular throughout the generations, particularly in the late Victorian period, and has consequently been used in the production of many cosmetic fragrances, perfumes and culinary violet syrup.

  • 'Blue Remington' has large blue flowers appearing in profusion from late winter through spring, and sometimes again in fall. The glossy green foliage is neat and trouble free. 6" x 15"
  • 'Rosina' has dusky pink, sweetly-fragrant flowers blooming in spring over heart shaped leaves. It prefers moist conditions. 2-4" x 6"
Viola sororia 'Freckles' - Delft

Viola sororaria 'Freckles'

A rare and most unusual perennial violet with speckled flowers in late winter to spring produces up to 20 per plant in its first season. 'Freckles' is easy to grow in sun or part shade, drought resistant and needs good drainage. This one looks great under roses, in borders, and containers. 4-6" tall.

Viola Johnny Jump Up

Viola tricolor: Johnny Jump-Up, Heartsease, Wild Pansy

A common European wild flower, grown as an annual or short-lived perennial. It has been introduced into North America, where it has spread widely by reseeding.

Hybrid Cultivars: Annual Pansy & Viola

You may be most familiar with this group of violas, the bright and beautiful bedding annuals that are a favorite in Portland gardens. Mostly neat, slowly spreading clumps of fleshy, dark green, shallowly lobed, ½-2 in long, pointed oval to lance-shaped leaves. Flowers are variably sized from small to giant styles nearly 3 inches wide. They come in virtually all colors and many beautiful combinations and patterns.

Pansy 'Frizzle Sizzle Mix'

Find the Best Perennials for your Garden

We have a wonderful selection of perennials year round, but if you are looking for a specific perennial we will have the best selection when it is in bloom around town. Note: Native plant pages will take you into the Native Plant section.


Lewisia: Bitterroot