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)
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Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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

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

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds


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

Fowler, Colorado

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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 27, 2015, rschlegel from Fowler, CO wrote:

I live in SE Colorado, zone 5-6, in a rural area surrounded by prairie. When I first moved to my 114 year old home 36 years ago, I really didn't notice these little flowers. As I developed my yard and flower borders from the original weed beds, the violets began thriving, growing into clumps 6-8" high, and seeding in the flower beds. Three years ago,, I decided to pull up all of the plants on the north side of my house where they were thriving among the vibernums, hostas, and other shade plants.The next year, I suddenly realized how much I had enjoyed their 2-3 week flowering season in the spring and their bright green, heart-shaped leaves the rest of the growing season. I found some growing near my neighbor's hydrant next to my property and carefully transplanted a few. This year, I noti... read more


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 specie... read more


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.


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.


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.


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 ... read more


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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).


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 capab... read more


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.


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.


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.