Viola (or Pansies) are such delicate delightful flowers that add wonderful spring and fall interest. You can grow violas from seed fairly easy.
Here’s everything you need to know about growing Violas from seed. Just a heads up that Viola seeds need to be started easy (8 – 10 weeks before last frost) and they require complete darkness to germinate.
What you’ll need:
- Potting soil
- Starter pots or trays
- Viola (Pansy) seeds
- Grow light
Viola seeds take a while to get going, so they are one of the first seeds to start indoors. They need about 8 - 12 weeks head start on your last frost date. For some of us, that’s starting our seeds in January!
PLANTING VIOLA SEEDS
To plant Viola seeds indoors, you will need:
- Viola seeds
- Seed starting containers, cell packs or compostable peat pots
- Saran wrap, dome or black tray to cover the seeds on top
- A good seed starting soil mix
- A container for bottom watering
- Grow light
Steps to grow Viola seeds:
- Prepare your starting container or trays.
- Fill containers with soil
- Place watering tray underneath
- Moisten the soil by watering from beneath, in the tray (damp but not soaked)
- Poke holes ¼” deep , 2 inches apart (or one hole per cell)
- Insert seeds (one per hole)
- Lightly cover hole with soil
- Cover the pots or trays with a dome or saran wrap or a black tray (they need darkness) to keep the soil moist (until the seed germinates)
- Place the seed container in a completely dark spot
- Allow 14 – 50 days for germination, keeping soil moist. Patience is needed!
- Once seeds germinate, remove the dome and place under the grow lights as soon as you can.
- The plants may get leggy if they don’t get the light right away. Violas are prone to this. Once the plants have developed their second set of leaves, you can actually transplant them to bury more of the stem under the soil, which supports the plant. Bury the stem right up until the first set of leaves, leaving maybe 1/4” of stem exposed. This solves the leggy issues.
- Fertilize once or twice during the early growth stage (after second set of leaves appears)
HARDENING OFF YOUR VIOLAS
Violas like cooler weather and can tolerate light frost. About 3 – 4 weeks before the last frost date, you can start hardening them off outside. Harden off your seedlings by placing them outside for small amounts of time, increasing the time each day, for about 5 – 7 days. Avoid direct full sun initially. Once hardened off, they can withstand temperatures of -15 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit), but may wilt.
Once ready to plant outside, ensure you have a good spot for your Violas that gets part sun and decent drainage.
Prepare the soil by watering and add some compost for a nice boost. Carefully transplant the seedlings without disturbing the roots too much, spacing as per the seed packet (usually 6 – 9” part, depending on the variety.