By Eddie Smith
MSU Extension Service
Violas are amazing annual plants that can survive our cold winters and grow well in both landscapes and containers. It’s no wonder they are a popular choice for gardeners in Mississippi.
Violas are also known as Johnny jump-ups because of their ability to produce seeds prolifically and pop up unexpectedly in gardens.
Personally, I’m a big fan of the Sorbet series of violas.
Sorbet violas are small, growing to about 4 to 6 inches tall and wide, but when planted in mass, they create a stunning floral blanket over the landscape. The colorful flowers sit above the dark green foliage and are a sight to behold.
I particularly like the Viola Sorbet XP Deep Orange variety that has bright orange blooms that really stand out.
Like other members of the Sorbet series, Viola Sorbet XP Deep Orange has a compact growth habit, creating tidy mounds of foliage adorned with an abundance of charming blooms. The contrast provided by the deep orange adds visual interest and warmth to garden landscapes.
Another favorite of mine is the Viola Sorbet XP Yellow Jump Up.
The blooms have cheerful yellow and purple petals that create a striking contrast. Foliage holds the blooms high on slender stems, which makes them stand out even more.
Another beauty is the Viola Sorbet XP Delft Blue that has white-faced petals outlined in a blueish-purple hue. Its yellow center, surrounded by a blotch of dark purple, makes it a captivating flower. The blue flowers are reminiscent of the classic blue and white porcelain associated with the historic city of Delft in the Netherlands.
Violas have smaller blooms than their cousins, the pansies, but they are much tougher and more tolerant of cold weather. The “XP” in the name often indicates an extra performance or extended blooming period, making it a reliable choice for consistent and prolonged floral displays.
One of the unique features of the Sorbet violas is their ability to self-clean, meaning the spent blooms fall off on their own, eliminating the need for deadheading. This makes the plants convenient options for busy gardeners who want to enjoy the beauty of flowers without having to put in too much effort.
Violas make excellent companion plants for pansies. They come in a wide range of colors and can be used to create stunning displays.
I love violas massed together in landscape beds or containers, and they provide a burst of colorful flowers all the way to Easter.
Dr. Eddie Smith is a gardening specialist and Pearl River County coordinator with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. He is also host of the popular Southern Gardening television program.