HOW TO GROW VIOLETS

Some like to grow violets as cut flowers, but not every soil is suitable for violet growing. Light soils have a tendency to get too dry and make the plants liable to red spider. Heavy soils may be too wet. It is a medium type of soil that is required. See that the land concerned is well drained, if heavy, and properly enriched with plenty of compost if light. Violets dislike acid soils and so lime must be applied. Choose a situation where there is good protection on the east and north side to keep out cold winds.

Having forked in sedge peat lightly or even well-rotted compost, get the soil down to a very fine tilth in the spring and plant with a trowel. In the south much planting is done in April but in the north it will often be delayed until mid-May. It is usual to allow 350 mm (14 in) from plant to plant, though double varieties may be planted in the 300 mm (1 ft) square principle.

Keep the violet beds clean and free from weeds all the year round by mulching the ground where they are growing with compost or sedge peat and be prepared to water with the hose with a good deal of pressure behind, so as to flood and keep the foliage damp. The earliest of the plants should begin to flower towards the end of September and from early November onwards it is worth while covering the violets with cloches or frames. In the north it is usually necessary to lift the plants with a ball of soil to their roots and plant them in a frame 600 mm (2 ft) square. The frame should face south. It should be filled with soil to 250 mm (10 in) of the top, which should run parallel to the frame light. After planting, soak the ground well but do not cover over with the frame lights until the frost appears.

Propagation

In the spring, runners will have grown on the flowering plants. These root in a similar manner to strawberries. When rooted, sever them from their parent plants and put out in their permanent position.

Sometimes runners are removed in September, and these are planted out in cold frames or under cloches 50 mm (2 in) apart. They are given shade until they have established themselves. Such plants are ready to put out in their permanent position in March in the south and in May in the north.

Varieties Admiral Avalon, a reddish-purple.

Governor Herrick, a deep purple; large flower, no scent.

Red spider resister, however. Marie Louise, a double mauve, good scent. Comte de Brazza, the best double white.

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