Violas brighten winter gardens

Their cheery faces add color through the cool months

Found blanketing the front of beds and borders in cooler months, violas are a favorite annual to use en masse. Some are solid colored, while others have vibrant markings on petals that are known as "faces" and give violas irresistable personality and animation. Johnny-jump-ups, a slightly larger plant with smaller bloom size, reseed but aren't invasive (the purple-and-yellow and blue-and-yellow types are the original wild pansies.)

Colors: Tissue-papery flowers come in purple, blue, yellow, apricot, red, pastels, and white with or without markings.

Size: Plants grow 6 to 8 inches tall and 8 inches wide; blooms are about 1 to 2 inches wide.

Care: Violas like full to part sun and regular water.

Planting: In mild regions, plant in fall for bloom into spring; in cold areas, plant in spring for bloom into summer.

Companions: Plant violas with low-growing grasses like blue fescue and some Carex varieties, fairy primroses, Iceland poppies, ferns, helichrysum, artemisia, heuchera, alyssum. In warm climates, they're a good over-planting for spring-blooming bulbs like daffodils and tulips.

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