Discover the flower that even the great Napoleon Bonaparte called as his own. Violets come from a large family with multicolored varieties, not just purple.
Violets have between 400 to 500 species, the most common of which is the blue violet or Viola sororia. The flowers are most known for their fragrant but elusive scent which disappears after one sniff. It’s because it contains the ionine chemical which temporarily desensitises the sense of smell.
Ancient Greeks have cultivated violets and used them for various purposes, including wine, food, herbal remedies and even as a symbol for Athens. It’s also the signature flower for Napoleon Bonaparte, who’s called Corporal Violet by friends and covered his late wife’s grave with the purple blossoms.
Table of Contents
- Amiral Avellan
- Appalachian Blue (Viola appalachiensis)
- Baronne Alice de Rothschild
- Birdfoot (Viola pedate)
- Blanche de Chevreuse
- Bog White (Viola lanceolate)
- Canadian White violet (Viola canadensis)
- Coeur d’Alsace
- Common Blue (Viola papilionacea)
- Common Blue (Viola sororia)
- Common Dog (Viola riviniana)
- Crowfoot (Viola pedatifida)
- Double Blue
- Downey Yellow (Viola pubescens)
- Early Blue (Viola adunca)
- Field pansy (Viola arvensis)
- Field pansy (Viola bicolor)
- Hairy violet (Viola hirta)
- Halberdleaf Yellow violet (Viola hastata)
- Heath Dog (Viola canina)
- Irish Elegance
- Johnny-Jump-Up (Viola rafinesquii)
- La France
- Long-Spurred Violet (Viola rostrate)
- Mrs. David Lloyd George
- Northern Bog (Viola nephrophylla)
- Sweet violet (Viola odorata)
- Victoria Regina
- Western Canada (Viola rugulosa)
- Wild pansy (Hearts ease) (Viola tricolor)
- Yellow pansy (Viola pedunculata)
- Yellow Wood (Twoflower violet) (Viola biflora)
A single violet, this flower has petals that are reddish-purple in color and unusually large leaves that are deep green, almost blue. As the season advances, the petals brighten up and they have very upright, sturdy stems. They also have a wonderfully sweet scent and they have been around since the 1890s.
Appalachian Blue (Viola appalachiensis)
A very rare violet that only grows from Pennsylvania to North Carolina in the mountains, it has blue petals with white centers and grows up to four inches high. It blooms in mid to late spring and it is found mostly in the woods, alongside streams, and in mountain coves. The petals are slightly toothed and have tiny hairs near the margin.
Baronne Alice de Rothschild
With single petals, this type of violet is a medium shade of purple-blue and has white flushes throughout. They have long petals and long stems and they are a great winter flower, especially when kept under glass or in a container.
Birdfoot (Viola pedate)
Reaching up to seven inches in height, this type of violet has basal leaves only that are lobed and are usually dissected into three separate parts. Its petals are irregularly shaped and get up to almost three inches wide. They are lavender with orange stamens and they bloom from mid to late spring. In one variety, there are two upper petals that are darker in color than the bottom three. They are found mostly in open areas and dry woods and in most of the eastern part of the United States.
Blanche de Chevreuse
This violet has unusual petals in that they are blush pink in color and with age, they open up to show off pure white blooms with the color pink in their centers. Although it is very attractive, the Blanche de Chevreuse doesn’t produce a lot of blooms so it is a little neater-looking than other types of violets.
Bog White (Viola lanceolate)
With basal leaves that are usually three times longer than they are wide, this type of violet has petals that are white or light violet and the lower three petals have purple markings on them. They are found mostly along the coastline in the eastern part of the United States but they can be found north to Canada and in the western part of the U.S. as well. They grow in sandy soil, shorelines, and wet open areas.
Canadian White violet (Viola canadensis)
A herbaceous plant with alternate, heart-shaped leaves that are toothed, the petals are white with yellow centers and have dark streaks throughout. It blooms from mid spring to early summer, and it is found mostly in rich woods.
This type of violet was introduced in 1920. It has beautiful petals in rose pink that sit atop very strong stems. A hybrid, the violet has a very sweet scent and large, dark green leaves that perfectly complement its beautiful petals.
Common Blue (Viola papilionacea)
Also known as the Confederate violet, the Common Blue has whitish-colored petals with violet markings throughout and dark, notched leaves that complement the petals perfectly.
Common Blue (Viola sororia)
Also called a Meadow violet, this flower is native to Missouri and is a low-growing perennial with glossy, heart-shaped leaves. It has large, violet-blue petals with eye-catching white throats and it blooms in mid spring and sometimes intermittently throughout the summer months. It grows up to 10 inches tall, self-seeds, and multiplies easily if given the right soil conditions.
Common Dog (Viola riviniana)
With chartreuse-yellow foliage and a growth of up to 12 inches, it blooms in late spring or early summer and has beautiful purple petals. It does best when grown in shade and the petals and leaves are unscented. It is also called the Dog’s Tooth violet and grows in the edges of woodlands and in grasslands.
Crowfoot (Viola pedatifida)
The Crowfoot violet grows to roughly five inches high and has leafless stalks and petals that are purple-blue in color, appear heavily bearded, and have white throats. They are a relatively rare plant that is found mostly in exposed banks and prairies that are dry and hilly. They are a beautiful color and very eye-catching.
The Czar has long stems, beautifully colored leaves, and petals that are deep purple, free, and strongly scented, enabling you to enjoy them for as long as they bloom. It has another variety, the Czar Bleu, which is similar but has darker petals, a stronger scent, and round, firm petals.
A double-petaled violet, this variety has been grown for centuries and has bluish-purple petals. Another variety, Double Rose, is copper-red and extremely rare. The Double White variety is similar but has white or creamy-white petals and sturdy stems.
Downey Yellow (Viola pubescens)
Also called the Smooth Yellow violet, it is a herbaceous perennial that grows up to 12 inches high. The alternate leaves are toothed and heart-shaped and the petals are yellow with brown markings near the base on the lower petals. They grow throughout most of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains and have irregularly shaped petals that are almost one inch in width.
Early Blue (Viola adunca)
This plant is also called the Hooked Spur violet and has petals that are bluish-purple in color with lines on the bottom three petals. It grows up to four inches high and has heart- or kidney-shaped leaves attached along the flower stem. The Early Blue violet is frequently found in prairies and open fields and the color is nothing short of spectacular.
Field pansy (Viola arvensis)
Also known as the European Field pansy, it can grow up to 15 inches high and has beautiful petals of creamy white, yellow-white, and sometimes light purple. It blooms from May to early September, mostly in fields and gardens close to human habitation, meadows, soil heaps, and wastelands.
Field pansy (Viola bicolor)
This plant is a herbaceous annual and grows up to 12 inches in height. It has unusual leaves with blades that taper near the stalks and with stipules that divide into lobes that are very narrow. The petals, which are irregular in shape, are usually either blue or white and they have yellow markings. This type of violet grows throughout most of the northeastern United States, and it blooms from early to late spring.
True to its name, the Giant violet has petals that are deep purple in color and can spread up to two feet wide. Like the Czar, it is a free flower that produces massive amounts of blooms and it has been around since the 1870s.
Hairy violet (Viola hirta)
Similar to the Sweet violet, this plant has large, heart-shaped flowers and petals that are usually violet with white near the center and yellow in the very center. It grows mostly in Europe in the colder regions, and it is found in areas that include dry banks and woods. It grows up to six inches high and has fine hairs all over the plant, which makes it look a little greyish in color.
Halberdleaf Yellow violet (Viola hastata)
Similar to the Downey Yellow violet, this perennial gets to roughly 10 inches high and has yellow petals with dark lines near the middle and a purple-tinged look on the back of the petals. It blooms in mid to late spring and is found mostly in the mountains and the rich woods.
Heath Dog (Viola canina)
Growing up to 16 inches in height, the Heath Dog violet is a perennial and has blue petals with white hearts. The shiny leaves are toothed and short-tapered and it blooms from May to June. The Heath Dog is found mostly in roadsides, open forests, grazing land, and logging sites, to name a few, and it has a second variety, the Viola ruppii, which blooms in June and July.
This type of violet is unique in that it can grow a different color depending on the soil and other conditions. The petals can be creamy white and various shades of blue, purple, and pink.
Johnny-Jump-Up (Viola rafinesquii)
Found in most of the eastern United States, this violet has either white or blue irregularly shaped petals with yellow markings and leaves that taper towards the stalk. It grows great in gardens, fields, and fencerows.
The characteristic that makes this violet stand out is its very large petals that are violet-blue in color and its large, rigid stems. The La France blooms early but if you live in a place that gets too cool, it should be grown under glass.
Long-Spurred Violet (Viola rostrate)
A herbaceous plant with toothed, heart-shaped leaves, the irregularly shaped petals are pale lilac and have dark centers. They grow from Quebec to Georgia in the mountains or woods that are moist and rich.
Mrs. David Lloyd George
Invented in 1915, these violets have large petals that are violet-blue in color with an inner bloom that looks similar to a rose and is usually creamy white and tinged in violet-blue. It has long stems, vibrant green leaves, and a beautiful, sweet scent.
Northern Bog (Viola nephrophylla)
With blue to purple and sometimes white petals, the Northern Bog grows mostly in the northeastern part of the United States and has simple leaves that can be either lobed or unlobed but are never separated into leaflets. It grows mostly in the wetlands and has a subtle but attractive color.
In existence since 1930, the Opera has a wonderful scent and looks great in a rock garden, mainly because of its color. Their petals are unique because they are a lilac-mauve color with rosy pink and pale blue tinges. They also have large, heart-shaped leaves that truly stand out among the other plants that surround them.
Sweet violet (Viola odorata)
Blooming in late winter and early spring, the Sweet violet has delicate, fragrant petals with yellow centers and gets up to 10 inches tall and roughly 18 inches wide. The petals are mostly dark blue or purple but can also be lilac, pale rose, or white. It does best in partial shade and well-drained but moist soil. It is both deer- and rabbit-resistant.
This violet is a hybrid and has large purple-violet petals that often fade to dark-blue with age. It blooms a little earlier than a lot of other violets, has long sturdy stems, and was named after Queen Victoria, having been invented in the 1870s.
This violet is an improved version of the Czar Bleu and has flowers that are medium blue in color. It is a sturdy and robust plant that was introduced in 1889.
Western Canada (Viola rugulosa)
With white or sometimes lavender petals and a yellow center, these violets are eye-catching and stunning. Their leaves are large, heart-shaped, and medium green and the small white petals are very attractive when you plant a lot of them together.
Wild pansy (Hearts ease) (Viola tricolor)
Growing up to one foot in height, the velvety petal on this violet is deep purple on the top and white and bright yellow-gold at the bottom with dark purple lines running through it. They do best in moist soil and partial shade and they lend beautiful colors to any spring or fall garden.
The Windward violets have rich rosy-red petals, sturdy stems, and a wonderful scent. They grow prolifically and look great under glass and in containers.
Yellow pansy (Viola pedunculata)
Also called the California Golden violet, it blooms in March and April and has petals that are yellow or orange in color. It grows up to six inches high and has leaves that are over two inches in width. It is a summer deciduous plant that has fragrant petals and brownish-purple markings on the bottom petals. If grown in warmer climates, it is best to plant it in partial shade.
Yellow Wood (Twoflower violet) (Viola biflora)
This violet has petals that bloom massively and are colored in deep lemon yellow with dark brown veins. Its sprawling, kidney-shaped leaves are delicate and the Yellow Wood blooms from spring to early summer. In addition, these violets can self-seed in certain instances. It is a truly stunning plant.