Antique Shades

Viola Antique Shades – one of my favourites

This, from the excellent Seedaholics website…

Some unbelievably coloured violas have come on the market in recent years with little notice. Most gardeners pass up these rugged, cool-season performers in favour of their larger cousins, the pansies.
But don’t be in too much of a hurry to overlook these exquisitely coloured violas.
Viola “Sorbet Hybrids” are a unique miniature hybrid that combines the charm of violas with the explosive colours of pansies. The series of twenty four colours and mixes has some of the most amazing colour selections you’ll ever see.

Early-blooming Sorbet has been bred to have more blooms on each plant and to have less stretching, Sorbet remains compact in both heat and cold, making it a standout performer in spring and autumn.
Hardy to minus 23°C (-10°F), the free-flowering plants perform across a wide range of climatic conditions and have excellent overwintering.
The compact, mound shaped plants grow 15cm (6in) high and up to 30cm (12in) wide. They are very tolerant of heat and cold, and in climates with mild weather Viola Sorbet will flower all winter.

One of the most popular colourways, Sorbet ‘F1 Antique Shades’ gives blooms with red-purple shades each with pale edges.

Sowing (from seed):
Violas are perennial plants but are often treated as an annual. 60 days from seed. They can be sown practically all year if at temperatures of around 15 to 20°C (60 to 68°F) can be provided.
They can be sown in December to February for May blooms. Sow before July for flowering in autumn, or sow September to December for larger spring blooms.

Use a good quality seed starting mix (John Innes or similar) or make a mixture of compost, a little vermiculite and a little sand to give drainage. Sieve the compost into pots or cell packs and press it down lightly. Add a little more compost if necessary. Make a small indentation with your finger and pop one seed into each indentation.
Light is not required for germination. A medium covering of coarse grade vermiculite is recommended to help maintain high humidity around the germinating seed, if you do not have vermiculite, cover lightly with sieved soil.
Place the containers in a cold greenhouse or outside in a cold frame, ideally at temperatures of around 15 to 20°C (60 to 68°F) Avoid temperatures above 21°C (70°F) to prevent seedling stretch. Maintain the soil at fairly wet moisture levels, i.e., the media is glistening, but water will not ooze out from the bottom of the tray and will penetrate only slightly from the top around the fingertip.

Optimal outside growing temperatures are 60 to 70°F (15 to 21°C) days, and nights in the low 50s°F (11 to 15°C) for the first few weeks. Violas can also tolerate lower night temperatures – in the 40s°F (5 to 9°C). Fertilise with a balanced fertiliser in the growing media mix to encourage good foliar growth before flowering.
Violas will thrive in any good soil and, although they will do well in part shade, they appreciate plenty of sunshine. Viola flowers follow the sun, or, on dull days, they follow the best light. Plant them where you look at them with the sun or light behind you – then their flowers will face you.
Plant plain-faced types en masse in beds and borders, and bicolours and whiskered types along paths and in containers where you can appreciate the delicacy of their pretty patterns.

One thing that helps violas give their very best is regular dead-heading. So as soon as the flowers fade, nip them off. Use kitchen scissors or thumb and forefinger.
During the growing season, fertilise the plants monthly with a balanced fertiliser.
Water the plants well and allow to dry slightly before watering again.

Plant Uses: Cottage/Informal Garden, Flowers Borders and Beds, Alpine & Rockeries, Under-planting roses and shrubs, Containers, pots & hanging baskets. Edible flowers. Violas can be slipped into almost any gaps where you need a little brightness. Choose appropriate colours to tuck around dwarf shrubs and conifers, hellebores, bergenias, winter arums, lamiums, and they make splendid companions for the shorter bulbs. Create instantly colourful containers by choosing pots of dwarf tulips or small-flowered daffodils and match them with violas or pansies in just the right shades.

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