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
View this plant in a garden


Alpines and Rock Gardens


Foliage Color:



Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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:

Unknown - Tell us

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

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

Seed Collecting:

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


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

Alameda, California

Amesti, 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

Indianapolis, Indiana

Cedar Falls, Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa

Wichita, Kansas

Ijamsville, Maryland

Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Fall River, 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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 7, 2016, jenwink from McCall, ID wrote:

My violet does not flower. Only seed pods grow, then fall off. Any ideas as how to get them to bloom again??? I live in Zone 3-4. They are very healthy and spreading, but I would like to see some flowers, not just seed pods. Thanks


On Feb 19, 2016, johnny26 from Fall River, MA wrote:

I have this plant in a full sun position I try to keep up with the watering but it dose fine in a dry soil it flowers also I live in fall river MA zone 6b.


On Jun 13, 2015, Susanrdh from Indianapolis, IN wrote:

I love this sweet plant...first purchased it as one of the Stepables in a pack of six. It does freely self seed, which is fine for me. Also is easily pulled up and controlled. It is a great weed controlling ground cover. Whatever it's true name, it is a keeper in MY garden!


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, according to the American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Perennials, Graham Rice, ed. The New England Wildflower Society and the Missouri Botanical Society agree (links at the end).

The plant that's shown in all the pictures here is a form of V. riviniana, and that'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, the purple-leafed plant is not reliably hardy without protection much north of Z6a-5b.

The true Viola labradorica,... read more


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 ... read more


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.


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


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!


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.


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 a... read more


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).


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 thi... read more


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... read more


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.