Violets (Viola sp.)
Violets (VI-oh-letts), are charming perennial plants, celebrated in tradition, literature and song. They have a long history in the garden, going back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. In this group are many, many types of violets with the dainty heart-shaped flowers native to the United States. Familiar as wild flowers that pop up in lawns and woods to signal the arrival of spring, there are actually many kinds and colors of violets. Early Blue Violet (Viola palmata) and Butterfly Violet (Viola sororia) are among the most common.
Size: Violet plants grow 5-8 inches tall and form broad, tufted clumps. These clumps spread as far as they are permitted.
Foliage: Violet leaves are shaped like elongated ovals. Dark green, and about 1 to 2 inches wide, they have toothed edges. They grow up from the base of the plant to form a leafy clump.
Flowers: The classic violet flower is heart-shaped, its four large petals arranged around the top and sides of the flower above a single smaller petal at the bottom in such a way as to suggest a face. Single flowers appear at the end of each stem, rising just above the foliage. The individual flowers are 3/4 to 1 inch across, but often the petals are sort of curled and never fully open. They are shades of blue or pale violet. There are some with white flowers streaked with blue. Violets bloom most heavily in the spring from April to June.
A variety of the butterfly violet called `priceana' has a distinctive white flower with bluish striations or tint.