Sweet violet

Sweet violet are not only undemanding and easy-care, they are also some of the most beautiful and enchanting groundcover plants for semi-shady locations.

Growth type
  • Perennial plant
Growth height (from)
from 5 cm to 15 cm
Growth width (from)
from 20 cm to 25 cm
Growth characteristics
  • flat growing
  • carpet forming
  • foothills
  • Self-seeding
Flower color
  • purple
  • pink
  • white
Flowering time (month)
  • March to April
Flower shape
  • Uniflorous
Flower characteristics
  • strongly fragrant
Leaf color
  • green
page format
  • ovate
  • kidney-shaped
Sheet properties
  • wintergreen
  • Rosette
Fruit shape
  • Capsule
Fruit characteristics
  • Self-seeding
  • sunny to semi-shade
Soil type
  • sandy to loamy
Soil Moisture
  • moderately dry to moderately humid
ph value
  • weakly alkaline to weakly acidic
Lime compatibility
  • lime-tolerant
Nutrient requirements
  • nutrient-rich
  • rich in humus
Decorative or utility value
  • Flower Decoration
  • Scented plant
  • medicinal plant
  • Nectar or pollen plant
  • non-toxic
Winter Hardness
  • hardy
Climate zones according to USDA
  • 5
areas of life
  • G1
  • GR1
  • GR2
  • FR2
  • Flowerbeds
  • Bouquets
  • flower meadows
  • Borders
  • Grave planting
  • Group planting
  • Planters
  • Lawn areas
  • Underplanting
  • Surface greening
  • Rebates
Garden style
  • Pharmacy Garden
  • cottage garden
  • Flower garden
  • Roof Garden
  • patio
  • natural garden
  • Pot garden
  • Forest Garden
  • Cemetery
Bee Friendly
bee friendly plant

The Sweet violet (Viola odorata), also known as the Wood violet or Common violet, originates from the Mediterranean and Caucus regions but has also been introduced to North America. It belongs to the genus Viola and has been a prized aromatic and healing plant since ancient times and throughout the Middle Ages. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Viola odorata was so fashionable that it experienced wide distribution across the perfume industry, in garden art and in the culinary world, and numerous new breeds were developed.


The perennial, fully winter-hardy sweet violet is a herbaceous plant and forms long offshoots above ground. In this way, it quickly forms dense, groundcovering mats. The shrub only grows 1.97 to 5.91 inches tall.


The basal leaves of the sweet violet are reniform to ovate, sometimes also cordate, and sit together in a rosette. They have a fresh, light green appearance and form a fabulous contrast to the sweet violet flowers. The wintergreen foliage provides a beautiful appearance even during the colder times of year.

Violet flowers of the Sweet Violet
Viola odorata has the typical, violet colored Viola flowers

The small, nodding individual flowers of the Viola odorata appear in March and April. Depending on the variety, they flower in pink, white or classic violet. The intensive fragrance of the flowers is believed to have a calming and harmonizing effect on the mood. As one of the earliest flowering plants in the year, the Sweet Violet is an important source of nutrition for bees, bumblebees and butterflies.


After flowering, they form seed capsules from which the sweet violets independently sow themselves.


In nature, the native Sweet Violet is commonly found growing on the edge of woodlands. Light shade is its preferred location as it does not tolerate the heat. It can only tolerate a permanent place in the sun if the soil provides enough moisture.


Viola odorata is happiest in permeable, humus-rich, loamy and slightly moist garden soil with a high nutrient content.


Plant new flowers in the spring or fall at a distance of 7.87 inches. The small shrubs look the most beautiful in tuffs of five to ten plants. The seeds of the cold germinator should be sown in late summer.

Sweet violet
Sweet Violets form dense mats

Sweet Violets are beautiful and still extremely easy-care; in the correct location, they can largely be left to their own devices. There is no need for fertilizer, but adding a small amount of compost promotes strong plants.


If required, the Viola clump can be divided, but this is not necessary. The fragrant flower mats develop best when the Sweet Violets are left to grow without intervention.


Sweet Violets prefer an area in the garden which is not too dry and semi-shady, this makes them perfect for under-planting woodland, wild hedges or flowering shrubs, as well as Roses or Peonies. In addition to their long-distance impact, the small plants also easily tolerate root competition from shrubs and trees. Sweet Violets are even crush-resistant, so you can plant them in lawn areas or flower meadows. However, Sweet Violets work best when they are planted together in dense groups. Combine the fragrant Dwarf with other spring flowers, such as Crocuses, Winter Aconite or . As the Sweet Violet foliage is evergreen, the small shrubs are also perfect for bordering smaller flower beds or path edges. As cut flowers, Viola odorata bring an enchanting fragrance to the home. The aromatic flowers can also be used in the kitchen. You can use them to make salads, flower butter, vinegar, tea, soups, syrups or liquors. Candied Sweet Violet flowers are a charming decoration on cakes, desserts and ice cream. Queen Victoria and Empress Elisabeth loved to nibble at candied Viola and they are still sold today in France as the delicacy "Violettes de Toulouse".

Sweet Violet ‘Alba’
Sweet Violets, here the ‘Alba’ variety, are also available in white

The popularity of the Sweet Violet has led to countless different breeds in gardening culture. The Viola odorata ‘Alba’ variant blooms pure white and is wintergreen. One intensively fragrant and yet still robust variety is ‘Donau’ with large, violet flowers and long stems which are perfect for cutting. Viola odorata ‘Queen Charlotte’ takes the crown in September with a second flowering. ‘Mrs David Lloyd George’ has extraordinary, half-full white-violet flowers. The ‘Sulphurea’ variety flowers sulfur-yellow.


If they are happy in their location, Sweet Violets will sow themselves and create a fragrant, flowery mat. Ants are also keen to carry the fruit of the plant around, meaning the sweet violets can crop up at unexpected locations all over the garden. The best way to achieve targeted propagation is through dividing large clumps or harvesting and sowing seeds. A word of caution: Not all varieties go to seed; some can only be propagated through cuttings. Moreover, lots of Sweet Violets cross-breed, which makes it extremely difficult to achieve pure variety propagation when there are several sweet variety species in the garden.

Diseases and Pests

When Sweet Violets are kept in a warm, dry place it is possible for spider mites to spread.

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