When it comes to violets, opinions are divided. To some, it’s a weed of the vilest kind; to others, it’s a dainty wildflower. No matter which camp you support, it’s vital to know that while violets have a literary reputation of being shy, in the landscape, they are anything but that. This perennial bloomer boasts a prolific personality, spreading easily by underground stems and seeds. In the lawn, it adapts quickly to lowered mower heights, growing shorter as needed to dodge the blade. Violets thrive in moist, shady sites, but mature plants are drought tolerant. The solution to eliminating violets? Vigilant hand-weeding (be sure to remove all the rhizome) and targeted herbicide use.
A floor-to-ceiling purple drape opens to reveal a small seating area and dressing room just outside the guest room closet. A large window with custom Roman shades fills the small space with natural light while the spacious closet provides ample storage. Extra seating is added with a small violet ottoman that elevates the closet into a true dressing room.
Indoors, keep an eye on houseplants, especially any you kept outdoors for summer. Pests multiply quickly in the warm environs of a winter home. This vining violet is infested with spider mites, which are very difficult to eradicate on indoor plants. The white speckling on leaf surfaces is a clue mites are feeding. Webbing where the leaf attaches to the stem is another dead giveaway.
Try ‘Candy Fountain’ (I. Fredette, hybridizer) in a shallow container or hanging basket. This trailing African violet produces double, rose-pink flowers on long runners and has more than one crown. Be careful not to overwater these plants. An African violet’s soil should be moist, but never soggy.
'Lonestar Snowstorm' is a standard African violet (R. Nicholas, hybridizer). Its white blooms are called "sticktite", which means that they don't drop from the bloom stem when they fade. African violets need good air circulation to help prevent disease, but don't put them in a drafty spot.
Semi-miniature trailing African violets, like ‘Linda Darnel’ (P. Tracey, hybridizer), grow about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Use room temperature water when you’re watering your plants, and avoid using soft water. African violets actually need some chlorination, but if you can smell the chemical in your chlorinated water, it’s too much.
Fuchsia is a showstopper in part to full shade conditions with its dangling, multi-colored flowers. ‘Bellinto Compact Red And Violet’ fuchsia delivers a classic pink and purple color combination in a small plant that’s perfect for pots. Plants grow 8 to 16 inches tall and 10 to 14 inches wide. Look for fuchsia in many different color pairings, including pastel pink and lavender, or white and red. Flowers also come in solid shades, such as orange or deep red. Fuchsia is a hummingbird magnet, so display plants where you can easily view them from indoors to watch the air show.
Pruning causes plants to produce new growth, which is tender and highly vulnerable to freezing temperatures. Wait to prune shrubs, including butterfly bush and caryopteris, until spring, when all danger of frost has passed. At that point you can remove any winter killed branches. In future years, aim to get pruning done by late August, so plants have time to harden off before freezes arrive.
‘Lyon’s Lavender Magic’ (Lyndon Lyon Greenhouses/Sorano, hybridizer) is a large standard African violet; large standards can reach over 16 inches in diameter. The plants have quilted, medium green foliage. Some gardeners put their African violets under grow lights, but they also thrive in natural light. Winston J. Goretsky, president of the African Violet Society of America, says, “African violets like to have bright, indirect light. Even a south-facing window with sheers is good, as long as it doesn't become too hot or the plant is allowed to dry out to the point of wilting.”
A surprising color combo of purple and brown make this dining room stand out from others. A purple pendant lamp picks up the purple in the chair cushions. Brown curtains and walls and a white shag rug complete the room.
‘Milky Way Trail’ (J. Stahl, hybridizer) is a semi-miniature trailer with quilted, heart-shaped leaves. African violets need regular grooming; brush away any dust or dirt with a soft brush, and remove faded flowers and damaged leaves.
This semi-miniature African violet, ‘Mac’s Strawberry Sundae’ (G. McDonald, hybridizer), has coral-red blooms. African violet blooms have many different flower shapes, including singles, stars (5 petals in a star shape), doubles, semidoubles, ruffled doubles, ruffled stars, and wasps (5 petals, with the upper two slightly curled back). Winston J. Goretsky, president of the African Violet Society of America, says the plants will bloom when they get sufficient light. “No amount of care or feeding will encourage them to bloom if they are not receiving enough light. Available light diminishes drastically, the further distance away from a window the plant is grown. A plant grown on a coffee table in the middle of a room will grow, but may not bloom.”
African violets come in a spectacular variety of leaf types, flower shapes, colors and sizes. Learn more about their care at the African Violet Society of America. This plant, ‘Pixie Blue’ (L. Lyon, hybridizer), is a miniature trailer with single flowers.
African violets are considered miniatures if they are 6" to 8" or less in diameter, and large if they're over 16" in diameter. Semi-minis are 6" to 8", while standards are 8" to 16". Trailing types have long runners that branch and spread; they can grow in hanging baskets or shallow pots. 'Persian Prince’ (S. Sorano, hybridizer), is a miniature with so-called girl, or scalloped, leaves. Girl leaves are usually fleshier than boy leaves, which are solid green.
Lilac is often associated with springtime. If you’re looking for a similar vibe but with more of a masculine touch, consider using lavender mixed with green and violet. The softness of the lavender makes it read more like a neutral. When lavender is paired with the royal richness of the violet, their blue undertones spring to life. Adding green to the mix creates a classic springtime touch.