Garden Plant of the Month for October: Viola
Vigorous autumn bloomers!
Everything seems to change so quickly in the garden in October. The trees shed their leaves, and the summer blooms and perennials reach the end of their flowering period. But that’s not the case for violas in October. They love the somewhat lower temperatures, and keep flowering vigorously with their beautiful colours until winter comes. And then? Well then they just carry on flowering. Violas won’t be defeated by wind and weather, and create colour and atmosphere in the sombre autumn and winter months.
Viola: tenacious flowering with twice the pleasure!
It’s no surprise that the autumn viola is one of the most popular plants in the garden. In beds, containers or pots on the balcony or patio - the viola will keep flowering anywhere for months. A bit less in the winter when it’s really cold, but it’ll carry on again cheerfully in the spring. Plant breeders and growers have created beautiful varieties in a lovely range with yellow, white, pink, blue, orange and red shades. Violas with eyes, spots or faces sometimes create even greater contrast in the flower. There are large-flowered and small-flowered violas, and nowadays we are also seeing more double-flowered varieties. There are even hanging violas which look fabulous in bowls or fixed to the wall in a sack. Great names such as Holland, Aalsmeer or Swiss Giant are widely known amongst the large-flowered violas, and the Viola cornuta is very popular amongst the small-flowered varieties.
So there’s plenty of choice to brighten the garden with violas in October. The plants also combine well with other autumn plants such as Calluna, Gaultheria or Skimmia. And things get truly festive in the garden in spring if bulbs have been planted below the violas in multiple layers. The violas planted in the garden in October will then combine with the bulbs in the spring to produce an explosion of flowers. So you get twice the pleasure!
Caring for Violas
A viola is exceptionally easy to care for. Whether it’s planted in the soil or in pots or containers, it can really cope anywhere!
Violas will remain healthy and attractive by following a couple of simple tips. It’s important that they’re placed in partial shade to full sun. Plant the viola in nutrient-rich soil, and water regularly.
If the temperature is above freezing, the viola will continue to grow and flower vigorously, and will then need some extra feeding once a fortnight in order to stimulate flowering. Removing wilted flowers will also encourage the plant to flower more profusely. Once the plant has finished flowering in late spring, you can replace the violas with beautiful summer annuals.
More information about the Viola and other garden plants can be found at Thejoyofplants.co.uk.