Planting violas in the sun or shade | Which is best for lots of flowers

Violas will thrive in the sun and grow into tall, beautiful plants covered with hundreds of flowers. Violas can continue to flower all the way from fall through to spring in mild climates and usually die off when the hot summer hits.

For areas that get hot summers viola will usually die off completely while in subtropical areas you can keep them going until the next fall where they will come into flower again.

Here are my top tips for planting violas in the sun and shade and which is best to give you the best display of flowers.

How to grow violas flowers in the sun and shade

Viola are a hardy plant and if they are given a few basics they will thrive and give you large displays of flowers. Here are my top tips for growing the most viola flowers possible.

Sun is key

Sun is key to getting the most flowers out of your violas. I had planted 12 viola plants throughout my garden in fall and those that were planted in areas that get at least 6 hours of sun are almost 3X as big as those grown in more shade.

My viola plants that get the most sun are at least 12 inches wide and at least 8 inches high. They thrive with only water and keep growing masses of flowers.

My viola plants that get less than 4 hours of sun are still growing and producing flowers but are closer to 6 inches across.

This viola plant gets around 6 hours of sun per day and is around 12 inches wide.
This viola is growing in around 4 hours of direct sun and is 1/3 of the size of those grown in full sun for 6+ hours.

Improve the soil first

The other key to the success of my violas is planting them in improved soil in raised beds. Before planting out the viola seedlings I dug through aged cow manure to add nutrients and aerate the soil.

After this I only added pelleted chicken manure once or twice over fall and again at the start of spring.

This was all these viola plants needed to grow huge and to be covered in flowers. Violas seemed to take a while to start to grow but after 1-2 months they grew rapidly.

Violas will reward you with flowers early even if they are small. You can often find tiny seedlings with 1-2 flowers even when they are only 2-3 inches tall.

Deadhead your violas

Deadheading is key to keep your display of flowers going for many months. When the viola plant is small you can simply pinch off old flowers when they have finished.

When you plant gets bigger this could take too long to do with just your fingers. Grab some secateurs and snip off areas of old flowers to make it easier.

Leaving old flower heads on at the end of spring will allow the plant to set seed. These can drop onto the ground and you can see new plant arrive again in the next fall.

I have successfully done this in pots but it is harder in garden beds because the soil is usually covered in mulch which will stop the seeds from growing.

How many hours of sun do violas need?

For the best results plant violas in a space that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight. This will give you lots of flowers, large plants and a beautiful display.

You can still grow violas in less sun than this but expect to get less flowers and smaller plants. Get the most value from your violas by choosing the brightest spot you can find. Plant them in pots if you can’t find a sunny space in the ground so you can move them around.

Growing violas in shade

Violas can grow successfully in shade but expect less flowers than those grown in more sun. Violas are hardy and can still grow a coverage of flowers in a spot that gets 4 or less hours of sun per day. I have found that violas grown in shade are more likely to be eaten by snails than those in full sun.

Growing violas in a pot is the best solution to this as it will lift the plants off the ground away form slugs or snails and you can move them into a sunny spot to encourage flower growth.

Violas grown in shade are more likely to be eaten by snails and slugs.

Best place to plant violas

The best place to plant violas is a spot that gets at least 6 hours of direct or bright indirect sunlight every day. Choose a place with well-draining soil and mix through some compost and aged cow manure.

Violas will also successfully grow in a pot. They have shallow roots so can be grown in a wider pot. You can create a large display by planting a range of colors in the same pot or space.

Growing violas in full sun

Violas will love a spot that gets full sun. Water the violas regularly on warmer days to prevent them from drying out and drooping. Violas have shallow roots so can dry out quicker in a full sun position.

Mulch the violas with bark mulch to keep them moist for longer. This will also reduce weed competition for a healthy plant.

Planting violas in the sun or shade | Summary

Plant violas in the sun to get the most flowers and the largest plant possible. I have grown violas up to 3 times the size of those grown in more shade. Violas will thrive in well-draining soil, with regular water.

Deadhead the plants to encourage new flower growth. Pinch old flowers off with your fingertips or use secateurs if you plants are larger.

Violas are one of my favorite plants and a fantastic feature in your garden.

Happy growing.