Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Labrador Violet
Viola labradorica

Family: Violaceae (vy-oh-LAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Viola (vy-OH-la) (Info)
Species: labradorica (lab-ruh-DOR-ih-kuh) (Info)

Synonym:Viola adunca var. minor

9 vendors have this plant for sale.

18 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Alpines and Rock Gardens

under 6 in. (15 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
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)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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There are a total of 16 photos.
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14 positives
5 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral coriaceous On Feb 23, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The popular purple-leafed violet that's widely sold in the US as the native Labrador violet (Viola labradorica) is actually a form of the European dog violet, Viola riviniana Purpurea Group, also called V. riviniana var. purpurea. This is the plant that's shown in all the pictures here, and it's the plant that (almost) everyone is speaking about in the comments. It is not native to N. America.

As the Zipcode data below suggest, this plant is not reliably hardy without protection much north of Z6a-5b.

The true Viola labradorica, native to North America, does not appear to be currently in cultivation.

I find that the purple-toned foliage of the dog violet is its chief ornamental asset. Greater light brings out the purple tones, and the leaves are greener in more shade.

I find that the flowers are small and stingily produced, and their season is brief. They have no fragrance.

This isn't a plant for the tidy gardener. It won't form a neat edging to a bed, nor has it ever grown into a weed-suppressive groundcover for me.

My plants are substantially smaller than the several common weedy native species---the height is generally 1-4".

I find that individual plants are short-lived, and if I want to keep it I need to rely on its prolific self-sowing. That means I can't use a weed-suppressive mulch. It tends to grow where it wants to, and it doesn't pay a lot of attention to my ideas about where I want it to grow---it often tends to fade out there, for reasons I can't seem to discern.

Because of its prolific self-sowing, this isn't a good plant for growing close to small alpine treasures in a rock garden. Like most violets, its spring-loaded seed pods can hurl its seeds up to 8 feet.

It's a good plant for the "wild" looking garden under trees, if you don't mind that it isn't native.

Neutral Kitte On Jul 17, 2011, Kitte from San Francisco, CA wrote:

Wow they weren't kidding when they said invasive! Don't let the dainty & delicate appearance fool you.

I grew this in a pot so thought I was safe. It will slowly spread & hang over the sides a bit. Very pretty in white pots, especially when it has the tiny lavender flowers. (Mine seem to flower fairly frequently). But now I am seeing it pop up everywhere in my other containers! It is windy here & I suspect that had something to do w/ it.

It seems to grow just about everywhere- sun, shade, light dry soils, heavy wet soils. Still like it tho, for tough little areas where I can't get anything else to grow. Anyway, the seedlings are easy to pull out.

Am keeping this as far as possible from my V. odoratas. Just in case they cross & affect the odorata fragrance.

Neutral magnetFL On Jun 23, 2011, magnetFL from Lake Worth, FL wrote:

Plants labeled Viola labradorica in cultivation, including all of those with leaves variably suffused with purple, burgundy, or maroon, are actually Viola riviniana, a species native to Europe, western Russia, and northern Africa. The true Viola labradorica, which is native to Greenland, Canada, and the United States, does not appear to be in cultivation. All of the images of Viola labradorica on Dave's Garden are actually of purple-leaved forms of Viola riviniana and most (or perhaps all) of the comments regarding Viola labradorica actually refer to Viola riviniana.

Positive IRuehl On May 15, 2011, IRuehl from Savannah, GA wrote:

Just moved to Savannah Ga From Wahiawa HI, and was itching to garden. Sitting in my dinning room I could see these purple flowers from my window outside my gate. Did a little research and wow, I love them. Transplanted them into a flowerbed in my front yard garden as a ground cover and they do great. I love them

Positive vasue On Apr 7, 2010, vasue from Charlottesville, VA wrote:

A dainty charmer! Began with one plant from a local nursery that bloomed sparsely but seeded well. In fertile amended soil mulched lightly with chopped leaves, 10 years later there are hundreds gracing the garden. Shallow-rooted & easily transplanted, they are happiest in groups & bloom here through to frost if kept watered. A weed-seed-suppressing living mulch beneath azaleas, roses, hedges, trees, perennials of many kinds in sun & shade. They compliment without crowding out & do well even on 45 degree slopes. A favorite!

Positive mjab17 On Jan 2, 2010, mjab17 from North Billerica, MA wrote:

Great plant, native to MA and i see it popping up all over the yard. it is a real treat to behold the flowers in the spring.

Positive MorganMghee On Apr 29, 2009, MorganMghee from Port Orchard, WA wrote:

I purchased this plant at a nursery for a Pacific NW garden, underneath tall maple trees where the spring sun shines, but becomes full shade in the summer months after the trees leaf out. Due to the damp weather and shady conditions, there are considerable slugs but these little flowers aren't affected at all. I am shooting for a low maintenance garden, so along with not wanting to battle slugs, I don't want to fertilize, and still this flower is not affected. The leaf coverage in summer is so complete that the garden gets very dry even during rain, but the plant merely droops until it rains very hard or I sprinkle. The year after planting, I too experienced a season or two of nothing but seed pods, as someone mentioned above, and was considering fertilizing this year especially after an unusual and prolonged heavy snow. But before it was time to do that, I noticed a hint of color in the leaves and on closer inspection found that not only had the snow not affected them, they appeared stronger than ever and were covered in flowers. (as seems to be the case for everything that has emerged so far this year) They do self sow, but so far after 3 years they haven't migrated out of the garden area. The only concern on that matter is that several of the seedlings have reverted (or converted) to a lighter green, less severely round leaf with a more violet than blue flower. A nice plant, but not as interesting as the original, so I will remove them and any more that I find.

Positive entwive On Aug 5, 2007, entwive from Barrington, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

I love this little violet. It makes sheets of purple in Spring & then throws up a solitary bloom here & there all Summer & into Fall here in Northern IL. A great shade groundcover that is not too agressive & plays well with others. Particularly nice with dark foliaged bugbanes (Actaea/Cimicifuga).

Neutral perfectpots On Aug 5, 2007, perfectpots from Victoria, BC
Canada wrote:

I'm sure everyone else has beautiful flowers, but mine is a mutant. It makes (I believe to be) indistinguishable flowers. I am constantly removing seed pods, but still have not seen a flower.
I planted it this past June. It did have a late start. Currently it is forming this small dainty flower buds. Not one has produce a flower they just go straight to a maturing seed pod. I have opened a couple of the flower buds, but see no petals or forming petals. If I brake open the Ovary I can see what I believe to be unpollinated seeds in the Embryo Sac.
Where are my flowers?
One thought I have is that maybe next year I will get fully developed flowers (doubtful.) Another thought I have is maybe one of the seeds will grow a true to form specimen. Either way I think I am going to dig it up. I do not want it seeding everywhere, no matter how beautiful the foliage. I prefer to have ground covers that spread by runners, easier to control with some hidden barriers.
Anyone come across this before?

Positive PhilsFlowers On May 12, 2007, PhilsFlowers from Ocean Park, Surrey, BC (Zone 6b) wrote:

I have grown this plant for almost five years. As a friend had this plant long before I did, I learned from her experience and placed it so that it could not escape confinement. A few did manage to grow in other nearby areas but were easily removed. My Lab. violets here in Surrey, B.C. began blooming about the second to third week in April and are still blooming their heads off although they are tapering off, fewer flowers. They do get some direct sun just before noon, the rest of the time they are in light shade and they seem to love it. Remember we are in Canada, I wouldn't try that in California or anyplace else that is similar. If I had not confined this plant my complaint would be that it spread too readily. If you plan to grow it use some means to confine it. I used scalloped pink edgers in a fan shape, filling the fan about half full so that when the plants seeded it would be extremely difficult for them to get out. Because they are shallow rooters and their roots were above the bottom of the fan, they could not spread by doing this either. I think the only way some seeds managed to escape was during windy periods when seeds were lifted and deposited in other areas of this garden bed.

Positive agebhart On Mar 31, 2007, agebhart from Wichita, KS (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have this little gem in a couple of my shady areas. It is a sweet little violet. It will re-seed, but is not invasive. It is blooming now in Zone 6a.

Positive Gabrielle On Jan 29, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

Blooms April-May in my garden. This is very happy for me in a well mulched area in full sun. My information says it is hardy in zones 3-9, and I believe other names for it may be Viola labradorica var. purpurea and Alpine Violet. Stratification and darkness aid germination of seed.

Positive dstartz On Nov 21, 2005, dstartz from Deep South Texas, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I grow this gem in heavy shade and moist soil. Each summer they goes dormant or die. Fortunately it's a self sower while actively growing so there is always a volunteer or 3 to take its place.

Positive markatmystery On Sep 5, 2005, markatmystery from Nellysford, VA wrote:

In Central Virginia, eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mtn.s. Spreads slowly but persistently, holding its own against waves of Galium odoratum (with a wee bit of weeding help from Yours Truly), in average soil, woodland shade. My only complaint is bloom time is too short--but that applies to a lot of early-blooming perennials!

Positive jills On Sep 4, 2005, jills from Alameda, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I found a volunteer that has been growing in a part of my garden that gets VERY little water and is in deep shade. It hasn't flowered, but I give it bonus points for just surviving under those conditions -- and the leaves are a pretty shape and color.

Positive hanna1 On Sep 28, 2004, hanna1 from Castro Valley, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I love this dainty Viola, I just collected seeds, will plant in couple more weeks, hope they make it, there's always plenty of seeds if I need more. I have it in poor soil in half sun half shade.

Positive sf_sunshine On Jul 22, 2004, sf_sunshine from Redwood City, CA wrote:

This plant grew very well in dappled shade in my Half Moon Bay, CA garden.

Positive Flit On Dec 31, 2003, Flit from Santa Cruz, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I love this little violet. It's quite dainty and the purple-tinged leaves are an interesting color. It flowers with small dark purple violets.

It needs a bit of encouragement to spread, creating small patches four to eight inches across. It's growing in shade under a birch tree on fairly bad soil. It wants regular water, but seems hardier than violas.

Neutral Baa On Aug 30, 2001, Baa wrote:

Syn Viola adunca var. minor
Often confused with Viola riviniana var. purpurea.

Native to Canada, North USA and Greenland. Small spreading (indefinite spread) Violet with heart/kidney shaped ( inch), toothed leaves which can be flushed a bronze-purple colour when young. Bears solitary pale purple flowers ( inch across) with short purple spurs.


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

Alameda, California
Castro Valley, California
Half Moon Bay, California
Menlo Park, California
Merced, California
Miranda, California
Pinole, California
San Francisco, California
Santa Cruz, California
Denver, Colorado
Manchester, Connecticut
Savannah, Georgia
Barrington, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
Washington, Illinois
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Wichita, Kansas
Ijamsville, Maryland
Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Holland, Massachusetts
North Billerica, Massachusetts
Taunton, Massachusetts
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Freehold, New Jersey
Buffalo, New York
Penfield, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Mount Hood Parkdale, Oregon
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Friedensburg, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Alice, Texas
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Fort Worth, Texas
Haltom City, Texas
Hereford, Texas
Mesquite, Texas
Princeton, Texas
Charlottesville, Virginia
Leesburg, Virginia
Nellysford, Virginia
Newport News, Virginia
Kalama, Washington
Port Orchard, Washington

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