The Native Plant Store can Now be Found Here

  • This page will remain accessible as a library page until I have all the species moved to the new page and all the quirks worked out in the new software so it can function as a searchable library.
  • Please see the Using the Plant Library  page  for some tips on how to make the most of the information in this existing library to select species for creating a healthy native plant community suited to the conditions of your site.

Viola sororia, Wooly Blue Violet

Viola sororia

Wooly Blue Violet

  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Moist to dry soil
  • 12” tall and wide
  • Mid to Late Spring Blooms
  • Ontario Native, Beginner Friendly, Groundcover, thrives in open woodlands, tolerant of mowing and can grow as part of a mixed turf area, especially in part shade.
  • An 'Underplant' species, these can grow and thrive below and between taller plants, acting as a living mulch

While some would call these violets aggressive spreaders, I prefer to think of them as the cure for monoculture turf and bare patches of soil.

Their furls of brilliant green leaves emerge shortly after the snow melts, generally around mid April in Ottawa, with the cheerful flowers rising above the new leaves a few weeks later.

Their blooming season continues over a few weeks and their foliage stays green and full through the summer.

They are quick to fill in bare spaces, slipping in wherever sunlight and soil are not being collected and covered, respectively. Happily, spring blooming violets and summer blooming perennials share space quite well, with the violets perfectly cohabitating and filling the spaces between and below taller species like Monarda, Pink Swamp Milkweed, Black Cohosh, Spiderwort, Bluestem Goldenrod and Anise Hyssop. I’ve also found that they make lovely edging along paths, where their small, early blooms can be appreciated before nearby, taller plants bush out in late June. They are also amazingly tolerant of mowing and foot traffic, for those looking for alternatives to European grasses in turf areas. Not a reasonable replacement all on their own, but quite happy as part of a low growing, mixed plant community.

The oblong seed pods nod down below the foliage through the summer, slowly maturing before turning to face up again and opening into three pointed stars. As the pods dry, they squeeze the small round seeds until they pop loose and are hurled several feet away. -Something that I learned when trying to track down the source of the occasional quiet pop or ticking sound coming from the plant shelf in my dining room where I spread out trays of plant seeds to dry in the summer and fall.

They thrive in locations that receive full sun in the spring and some shade in the heat of summer but are quite tolerant of a range of growing and light conditions. They love evenly moist, woodland soil but will grow perfectly well in lean and sandy soils as long as last year’s leaves are left to compost in place and, while they will wilt when very dry, they bounce back quickly once water is available again.

Plant height tends to be around 12” by early summer and, while they are patch forming by nature, I would suggest spacing of around 12” if you are envisioning them as a thick groundcover.

Their fuzzy little purple faces aren’t the only way that violets bring colour to the garden. They also provide the foliage that Fritillary butterflies feed on as caterpillars. While the butterflies are most often spotted on summer blooming plants, these beautiful adults wouldn’t be around without the violets to provide the nursery.

The Ecosystem Companions for this Species list below shows species that these violets thrive below and around, as a living mulch layer and a lovely carpet of spring blooms.

Related products

Species that were not sown / aren't being sown for 2023 are marked with an * 
Species that are native to this continent, but not historically native to Ontario are marked with a ~ 
While it rarely comes up, I do reserve the right to limit plant quantities, mostly to help ensure that as many native plant gardens as possible become a reality