Wild violets for lawns

Violets for lawns poster
From left to right: Viola sororia var. alba, V. sororia cult. “Freckles”, V. pubescens


In an earlier post on violets (Spring flowers – wild violets) I presented wild violets that typically grow in woods and fields. The violets shown here also grow in wild habitat but do very well in lawns. Two easy to grow species are shown. The first is Viola sororia, the sisterly violet, with two varieties. The white one is V. sororia variety alba and the speckled one is V. sororia cultivar “Freckles”. The usual color of V. sororia is deep blue and this color form can also be grown in lawns. It is tolerant of partial shade and likes average loamy soil that does not dry out too fast. In the wild V. sororia grows in moist to dry meadows and woodland edges from Manitoba east to New Brunswick and south to Texas and Florida.

The other violet shown is V. pubescens, the downy yellow violet. Like V. sororia it is easy to grow in lawns and has similar soil and moisture requirements. Wild plants grow in mesic deciduous forests across eastern Canada from Ontario to New Brunswick and the US south to Virginia.

Both species and their various cultivars can be bought from plant nurseries. You could also collect seeds from wild colonies and start plants that way. In about two or three years they will become established in the lawn and begin to spread to other places. You can take large violet plants and carefully divided them to plant in other areas of your lawn.

I do not mow my lawn until the plants have finished blooming. That way seeds will be able to mature and start new plants elsewhere. Additionally, these large-leaved violet species are larval host plants for certain species of fritillary butterflies.

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