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Pot with violets and violas planted.
Perfect for cottage gardens, these five-petalled shrubs provide fabulous colour, either in pots or in garden beds.


What you need to know about violets

Name: violet (viola).

Height: small ground cover plants 20–100cm wide × 5–20cm tall.

Foliage: green, with kidney, heart or oval-shaped leaves.

Climate: most areas of New Zealand.

Soil: well-drained, improved with compost.

Position: sun or shade, but prefers part shade in warm climates.

Flowering: spring or year-round, depending on the variety.

Feeding: feed with a complete controlled-release fertiliser

Watering: prefers moist positions. Water when soil dries out.

Appearance and characteristics of violets

Violets are all members of the viola family, which includes about 500 species of annuals and perennials, which are mostly small, mounded shrubs.

All types of violets have five-petalled flowers, and mostly flower in white, yellow and purple, though other colours are available.

Pansies are also in the viola family and were developed when the small-flowered heartsease (Viola tricolor) was crossed with other species.

Yellow and purple viola flowers 

Varieties of violets

Sweet violet (Viola odorata): a perennial that spreads by runners, grown for its highly scented flowers, which can be single or double, appearing in spring and early summer. Can be weedy in ideal conditions, and grows to about 20cm tall.

Viola hybrids: known as pansy and viola, these small annuals are neat plants with flowers that range from 0.5–8cm wide in a variety of colours, many with bi-coloured decorative patterns and “whiskers”. Usually purchased as seedlings or potted colour to flower in winter and spring, they grow to about 15cm tall and wide.

Native violet (Viola hederacea): Australian creeping perennial with circular leaves and small lavender or white flowers with darker centres, appearing mostly in the warmer months. Prefers shade and grows to about 10cm tall.

Johnny Jump-up (Viola tricolor): flowering in spring, this violet is treated as an annual and self-seeds before dying. It has small, bi-coloured pansy flowers with face-like patterns, and is about 10–15cm tall.

Uses for violets

Violets are perfect for cottage gardens and fragrance gardens. The annual varieties are used as bedding colour and pot specimens.

How to plant and grow violets

  1. Choose a sunny or shady area.
  2. Improve soil with generous quantities of compost or soil improver.
  3. Delicately plant your violets.
  4. Keep moist but not wet, watering once or twice a week during dry periods.
  5. Apply fertiliser when planting, and once a month thereafter.

Caring for violets

Violets make excellent pot specimens, especially the annual varieties, which are sold as violas. They are also good clumping plants in garden beds, where they should be planted into free-draining soil improved with compost.

Pruning and flowering

Violets do not need pruning, and mostly flower in spring or early summer. Dead-head spent flowers to encourage new growth.

Diseases and pests

Protect seedlings from slugs and snails by using snail baits or beer traps. Hose aphids off with a strong blast of water or use a pyrethrum spray, and check plants for caterpillars, which eat the flowers and leaves. Squash them or apply a caterpillar spray such as Dipel or Yates Success.

If you like this then try

Salvia: a fast-growing plant with gorgeous colour and an excellent architectural form.

Hellebore (winter rose): low-growing perennial plants with simple five-petalled flowers in mid-winter to spring.

Chrysanthemum: a hardy perennial with gorgeous, long-lasting flowers perfect for Mother's Day. 

Start planting today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!


Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.