Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Sweet Violet, English Violet, Garden Violet
Viola odorata

Family: Violaceae (vy-oh-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Viola (vy-OH-la) (Info)
Species: odorata (oh-dor-AY-tuh) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

25 members have or want this plant for trade.

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6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Flowers are fragrant
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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There are a total of 31 photos.
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7 positives
6 neutrals
4 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive coriaceous On Feb 1, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

I wonder how many gardeners here are writing about one or more of our native North American rhizomatous violets rather than V. odorata. If the flowers don't smell strongly of raspberries, it isn't a sweet violet. The several weedy native species that grow from thick rhizomes and commonly invade our lawns and flower beds have no fragrance.

My sweet violets mostly stay below 3" tall. I don't believe any of the hardy cultivars gets much over 6". I haven't found them hard to control.

There are many cultivars, some double, some in different colors---usually purple or (duh!) violet, but also white, pink, crimson, or even yellow---and some with longer stems for making nosegays. They are still available in the UK, but few are currently available in the US.

This species needs winter protection north of Z6. The cultivars vary in hardiness. I haven't been able to get any double-flowered cultivar to overwinter here (Boston Z6a). The Parma varieties don't survive temperatures below 20F, and may be descended from V. alba rather than V. odorata.

Sweet violets can sometimes be weedy and can invade lawns and flower beds here on the East coast, but they're a lot shorter and less robust and aggressive than the weedy native ones. At times, they can even be a little finicky---shrinking violets, indeed.

Positive Dean48089 On Jun 17, 2013, Dean48089 from Warren, MI (Zone 6b) wrote:

I suppose some will say that violets are invasive because they get in amongst the lawn grass, but for me the only reason for lawn grass is to keep the mud from splattering until I think of something useful to do with that space. In my garden the sweet violets start blooming early, along with the hellebores and daffodils. The violet plants themselves are usually evergreen, unlike their 'cousin' the blue violet, Viola sororia, which starts blooming as the sweet violets are winding down. Between the two I end up with violet flowers for almost two months in the springtime. The sweet violets will often bloom again in the fall when the summer heat departs.

Positive onmyknees2 On Apr 9, 2013, onmyknees2 from Westland, MI (Zone 5a) wrote:

reading all the comments about this violet I am wondering if we are talking about the same plant. The scent this early in the year (mine have been blooming since February against the house on the south side, Detroit area) is so uplifting. Take only 6 blossoms into the house and the room smells just lovely. These violets reseed themselves but can be easily removed where not wanted. The plants multiply in clumps in my garden but I noticed a clump in my neighbor's lawn, so I went and removed it. I have also the violets that bloom much later and are much taller but they have no scent. I agree, they are invasive and hard to control.

Neutral billylee258 On Apr 3, 2012, billylee258 from Columbus, OH wrote:

Don't really grow it, kinda grows on its own but isn't annoying like dandelions. My grandmother actually has some in her yard that are white and purple which are gorgeous.

Positive PinBox On Jul 28, 2010, PinBox from Boise, ID (Zone 6b) wrote:

I must first say that I am a very responsible gardener and absolutely do not allow any noxious weeds to live in my yard.

I, too, have very prolific violets. I have a different take on them than most of the other posters here, however. As my yard has evolved, I have come to the conclusion that it is much nicer to let the plants that do well survive, instead of trying to force my yard to be something it is not. I originally planted my violets off to the side of my thyme walkway. Over time they have crept into the thyme and between the flagstones.

They have also migrated a bit toward my grass, but so what? They are beautiful and clearly survive well in my high desert climate. (I dare say they look nicer than parched grass which has gone dormant as peak summer heat encroaches). I also like the fact that they (and many, many other flowers which might be too prolific for some gardeners, such as echinacea, hollyhocks, lupines, monarda), provide a vital sanctuary to the bees and other beneficial insects and birds.

I am saddened and concerned by the loss of the bees and other valuable insects and seldom use herbicides and never use pesticides. I keep my weeds in check with several inches of wood chips and never harm my healthy little ecosystem that is so vital for the bees, butterflies, ladybugs and wasps, to name a few.

And one part of my healthy ecosystem is my violets.

Negative SunnyBorders On May 25, 2009, SunnyBorders from Aurora, ON (Zone 5a) wrote:

Very pretty - very invasive.
Needs constant policing in a flowerbed. Once established in your lawn, it readily moves into neighbor's lawns. Some neighbors won't appreciate it/you.

Neutral JuniorMintKiss On Apr 4, 2009, JuniorMintKiss from Tremonton, UT (Zone 6a) wrote:

Pros: Fast growing ground cover, grows in shade or sun, herbal/medicinal usages, pretty flowers.
Cons: Invasive, hard to control once established.

I decided to give this flower a neutral rating because, while I have useful areas at my home where I don't mind it growing and spreading, it's invasive for the most part. It is taking over my lawn by steady degrees and I've tried to get a handle on them, but to no avail. I may have to resort to killing parts of my lawn just to get them under control, which I really don't want to do. Either that, or I spend a considerable amount of time painting each cluster with round-up, using a foam brush.
So if you are considering this plant, isolate it to a planter or flower pot.

Negative Malus2006 On Apr 20, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

To me it is noxious - it seem to prefer lawns better than gardens - they will sometimes cross with the white form - Alba and products flowers of different shades but more commonly with purple throats. A weed - will grow sun, shade, even dry shade, lawn, etc - only rabbits will eat them but not enough to kill them. Will seed heavily and can be a pain to pull from clay soil.

Negative DATURA12 On Jan 21, 2008, DATURA12 from Fort Worth, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I just cannot grow this plant for some reason, it just lives, does not thrive. I rarely see a flower and if I do inspect it I see flower buds but it will not bloom.

Positive prometeo21 On Jan 21, 2007, prometeo21 from Mayaguez, PR (Zone 11) wrote:

I received a Heirloom variety small plant from a 50+ years old garden from a Professor at my University. They are really adapted to my tropical garden in Mayaguez Puerto Rico and growing really fast. I use Fish Emulsion 5-2-2 to fertilize it every 2 or 3 weeks and the plant love it. Its a very beatiful and medicinal plant that has to be in every herbalist garden.

Positive girlndocs On Apr 22, 2006, girlndocs from Tacoma, WA wrote:

I've never had trouble keeping my violets in bounds. I have them planted in clumps around the edge of a flowerbed, and every spring I yank out a handful of each clump where it's moving too far into the bed. Done, no hassle at all. I allow them to spread closer and closer towards each other to fill in.

They do seed prolifically but over a good woodchip mulch they don't stand a chance.

I love their beautiful purple color first thing in the spring, and I love their attractive foliage that lasts all summer and, in my zone, all winter too. They make the most charming tiny bouquets in tiny bud vases and I'm under the impression that at one time they were a popular hothouse cutflower.

Neutral berrygirl On Jan 5, 2006, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I saw these small but pretty flowers growing all in the ditch near my mailbox and thought they looked sort of like my Johnny jump-ups and so assumed they were a violet.
Like an idiot I dug up a clump and put it in a bed in my backyard.

My backyard is now covered with them- LOL!

Neutral MoGee On May 1, 2005, MoGee from Brooklyn, NY wrote:

Extremely invasive and almost impossible to get rid of. This year I haven't even tried to dig out as I've had so many failures in the past with eradicating it. This is also the first year that the little violet flowers have made an appearance. I noticed this not just with mine but in other gardens and sidewalk cracks! We've had a warm to cool spring so far (a few days in the 80's as well).

Neutral CaptMicha On Jan 5, 2005, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

Sweet violet is an attractive little plant with some uses. The flowers can be candied and eaten, or used in cooking or salads. (I have a recipe for the candied flowers if anyone would like it.) The plant serves as a host plant to some of the fritt. butterflies and many moths.

While attractive and pleasant growing in the lawn or woods, it can be a nuisance in flower beds. Although easy to pull out, this plant makes alot of seed and they sprout any where they land. I've found this year that they break off at the ground when I trie pulling them up. The best way for removal is weed killer or a hand weeder. I use the one that has a long shaft with a peice of metal extended to provide leverage and a fork at the end.

Flowers can be inconspicous because they are capable of growing right at the crown of the plant and thus are hidden.

Positive gabriell On May 4, 2004, gabriell from Tyler, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

A friend gave me a start of violets several years ago.She told me that someday I would not thank her for this addition to my garden because they are so invasive.I am still greatful but now have hundreds of plants everywhere.Even between the bricks in my patio!The gardener who can't grow violets really has a brown thumb.

Negative Lottia On May 3, 2004, Lottia from Seattle, WA wrote:

At my home in Seattle, Washington, this plant has become invasive--taking over a quarter of my strawberry bed and showing up in other nearby parts of the garden. It looks and smells lovely in flower, but I intend to dig it all up! It will be a challenge to eradicate, however, as it sets copious seed, spreads by short runners, and resprouts.

Neutral Baa On Aug 30, 2001, Baa wrote:

Widely naturalised but originating in Western Europe. Small, spreading (by rooting stolons) plant with rounded/heart shaped, slightly hairy, toothed mid-dark green leaves and small flowers which are dark - purpleish blue and sweetly scented. White flowers occur also but produces non rooting stolon. Self seeds everywhere.

Excellent wild/woodland garden plant with several herbal uses. Flowers in December through to April here in Southern England.

Several cultivars are available.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Wetumpka, Alabama
Phoenix, Arizona
Huntington, Arkansas
Chico, California
Merced, California
North Fork, California
Novato, California
Yucca Valley, California
Old Lyme, Connecticut
Brandon, Florida
Inverness, Florida
Niceville, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Braselton, Georgia
Brunswick, Georgia
Boise, Idaho
Pleasantville, Iowa
Barbourville, Kentucky
Brookeville, Maryland
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Warren, Michigan
Westland, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Waynesboro, Mississippi
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
Corrales, New Mexico
Brooklyn, New York
Cleveland, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio
Enid, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Gold Hill, Oregon
Salem, Oregon
Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
West Warwick, Rhode Island
Columbia, South Carolina
Viola, Tennessee
Fort Worth, Texas
Garland, Texas
New Caney, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Spring, Texas
Tyler, Texas
Tremonton, Utah
West Dummerston, Vermont
Bellevue, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Spokane, Washington
Tacoma, Washington

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