Violas can be pruned back by up to half their size if they are getting long, drooping or falling over. Regularly pruning violas every month by removing 1-2 inches will help to keep them compact, remove finished flowers and encourage new growth.
Violas are a tough plant that will grow back after trimming. If you live in an area with high rainfall and warm winters, then expect your violas to grow rapidly over this time. Choose a sunny position and feed them regularly with pelleted chicken manure. They will reward you with bright, beautiful flowers all through the winter months and right into spring.
I always plant a new batch of violas in fall ready for a winter display. Look out for new color ranges in your garden center each year to create a beautiful display in your garden beds or pots.
Pruning new violas
Volas that have been in the ground for less than 4 weeks can still be pruned. Use sharp secateurs to trim them back by ½ making sure they still have a good coverage of leaves. The plant will bounce back producing more stems and flowers in the coming weeks.
I like to trim long, bending violas to keep them compact. This helps them to bush out and stops them from falling over. You can even plant them near other shrubs and they will climb and wind their way up to reach the sun.
Pruning violas regularly
Violas will get long and spindly as the year goes on. Pruning them regularly keeps the bush compact, removes old flower heads and keeps them growing strong for longer. A well pruned viola can produce flowers all the way from fall to the end of summer.
My viola plants continued to grow all through our mild summer this year and were ready to be replaced with new seedling at the start of fall. They can reseed on their own so look out for their seedlings which can pop up when the weather cools in fall.
When to prune violas
Violas can be pruned multiple times throughout the year, as frequently as once per month. Fast growing violas in a sunny, well-watered position will grow rapidly over winter and into spring. They can double in size within a month and can fall over as their stems reach for the light.
How to prune violas
Here are my easy steps to prune violas to keep them growing strong, producing flowers and to help them recover quickly.
1. Check your plants regularly
Check your plant at the end of each month to see if flower heads need to be trimmed off or if stems are touching the ground. You can gently removed flower heads individually or snip off 1/3 of the stem length to freshen up the plant.
2. Trim small amounts often
I find the easiest way is to trim of 2-3 inches of each viola stem when they are getting too long. The plant will quickly recover replacing the stems and growing more flowers.
3. Feed violas to help them recover
I like to feed my violas regularly with pelleted chicken manure to help them to continue to grow throughout the year. I will feed with a small handful of chicken manure at the start of each season and dig some through the soil before planting new seedlings.
Feeding violas with pelleted chicken manure every 3 months will feed the plant to encourage new growth without preventing flowering.
4. Feed the soil with seaweed
Add diluted liquid seaweed to your viola plant around the roots zone. Liquid seaweed will help to feed soil bacteria, encourage healthy and large root growth and help the plant to grow strong stems. You can add a dash of liquid fertilizer to your watering can and give it to your violas every month.
Liquid seaweed is a soil conditioner rather than a fertilizer and will help to gradually improve the soil and plant growth over time.
5. Mulch your violas after pruning
Every time to prune back your violas take the time to top up the mulch. This will help to keep the soil moist, feed the worms and soil bacteria and improve the soil. I like to use bark mulch around my violas because it looks great and lasts a long time.
I use a fine bark mulch which can be topped up to around 2 inches thick every 2 months to prevent weeds from growing and competing with your violas.
Do you deadhead violas?
It is essential to deadhead violas as often as possible. This will encourage the plant to continue to produce flowers rather than to set seed.
Violas often produce mass displays of flowers so it can be tricky to keep up with deadheading them. I like to prune my violas lightly every 4 weeks instead, trimming away longer stems with lots of finished flowers.
What to do with violas after flowering
Once the warm summer weather arrives, most violas will turn yellow, brown and die back. By then they will have produced and dropped most of their seed which will wait in your soil until the cool fall weather arrives.
I like to replace my violas each year with new colors but I will always let self-seeded violas grow through as well. You can place the viola plants in your compost but beware that the seed can remain in the mix and sprout later.
Violas are not a difficult plant to remove and I have not had problems with them taking over. It is more of a treat when I get self-seeded violas appear in my garden rather than a problem.
How to Prune Violas | Summary
Violas can be pruned regularly or you can chop off half the bush size if you want to tidy them up. I find that pruning small amounts regularly will help the viola to keep flowering for longer and stop it from falling over. Violas are an easy to grow, summer flowering plant that looks great in any garden.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.