Viola tricolor. These perky little flowers are old-fashioned heirloom favourites and look like miniature pansies with lavender, yellow, and white faces. Direct seed Johnny Jump Up viola seeds from April to July. Sow seeds 0.6cm (0.25") deep, and they should germinate in 12-14 days. Johnny Jump Up viola seeds self sow fairly readily, but they do not take over, and can be easily raked under if unwanted. These look rather good in containers, and their flowers are edible. If you want to try your hand at making candied violets, Johnny Jump Ups are the place to start. Or simply pick some of the fresh flowers and scatter them over salads and summer meals.
Hardy annuals and perennials that are variously known as pansies, Johnny-Jump-Up, and Heartsease.
Violoa tricolor, V. x wittrockiana, V. odorata
Season & Zone
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Start indoors 10-12 weeks before planting out. For spring planting after last frost, that means up to 3 months growing time indoors. On the coast you would sow seeds indoors for early spring planting in early January. Otherwise, sow direct outdoors in summer to early autumn. For winter-flowering pansies in Zones 7-9, start seeds in mid to late June. For V. odorata: Direct sow in autumn or early spring. This variety benefits from a long exposure to cool soil.
Even though the seeds are tiny, they need to be sown 5mm (¼”) deep. Keep the soil at 18-25°C (65-75°F), in complete darkness until they germinate in around 14 days. Then provide bright light to keep plants compact. Space at 15-23cm (6-9″) in the garden. For V. odorata: Barely cover the tiny seeds. Sow in flats sunk into the ground against a north-facing wall, and cover with glass or plastic. Remove cover when seedlings emerge. Germination can take up to 50 days, so be patient.
After germination, violas are easy. Fertilize once or twice in early growth and provide a mulch around plants to keep roots cool as weather warms. Deadhead to prevent self-sowing, particularly with Johnny-Jump-Ups.
For V. odorata: Transplant after last frost or in the autumn where winters are mild, spacing at 15-30cm (6-12”) apart. Grow in partial shade, or in full sun where summers are cool. This variety prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5-7.0. Add well-rotted manure at transplant time.