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Advice for Southern California, Hot Inland Valley violet lover

March 7, 2007

Several years ago I ordered some Parma violets and kept them in pots under an orange tree. They perished. Why I'm not sure as it was some time ago, could've been the heat, erratic watering on my part, etc. But now that I'm reading about violets I see they are not at all at home in this climate - that never stopped anyone here as far as other plants are concerned. So my question is, how can I adapt their environment and culture so they will survive. Shade cloth, misters, north side of the house, east side of the house, drip irrigation??? Stay with Parmas, try odoratas? What do you think? Australian violets are sold as ground cover here in flats but they don't have fragrance (pity). My local nursery has 4" pots of Queen Charlotte so I will give that one a try. As far as violas go, I love them - all the different colors and I feed them to our parrots and pet rats. I'm not fond of pansies as much though! but violas are annuals and do not like the hot summers here (it gets into the triple digits for days to a week at a time) also little to no summer rainfall and low humidity - the natives go dormant! I suppose I could treat sweet violets like annuals too and order them in the fall to enjoy until the blast furnace starts in May. Is that my only option?

Comments (6)

  • etii

    Hello !

    Well, I don't see any reason why you couldn't have sweet violets (odorata) or parmas :-) Summer in south of France are terrific too, especially in Toulouse where parmas were (are still a little bit) cultivated !
    During summer a shade place is needed and do not forget to sprinkle; if you do it almost every day no matter the heat (Waterless place is the problem).
    I guess you'll have to make the try in different places, but, violets deserve it :-)
    And let's write it again: ONLY odoratas and parmas are fragrant. We are spoiled in Europe :oP Sorry boys n girls, that's the way it is lol !! Don't complain too much, murcan violets are lovely too, bigger and they are so many diiferent ones...

    Go luck and don't give up :-)
    All the best
    Thierry :-)

  • membertom

    Howdy Thierry,
    I agree that [very sadly for us "murcans"] ;0) , most murcan violets don't have any scent at all. And I certainly agree that those Odoratas and Parmas really are top of the list for fragrance, but...
    If you ever have a lot of Priceana in bloom on a warm day, try smelling a bundle of freshly picked flowers. It's not super strong and it is very different from odorata or Parma, but it's still a pleasant fragrance. Reminds me of honeysuckle or jasmine. Viola canadensis also is always scented for me. And Viola blanda has a little bit too. And just once, when my nose was really starved, I even found some fragrance in a large pile of Viola striata flowers that I was collecting pollen from. I was very surprised at that one -- I'd smelled it many times before and always been disappointed.
    I sure hope your nose can smell some of these too -- don't give up too easily on the murcans.
    Thanks for the laughs.
    Take care, Tom

    P.S. In case anyone is still wondering what these murcan violets are...
    Hint: say it 5 times fast -- "a murcan violet, a murcan violet, a murcan violet, a murcan violet, a murcan violet"

  • greenwitch

    Salut Thierry,

    Well, this is good news after all! I did pick up the Queen Charlotte as well as a generic V. odorata. It has been in the 90's already (Fahrenheit) but is cooling down a bit.

    I also suspect all if not most flowers have scent, the fault is in the human nose. I too have noticed the perception of fragrance depends on the time of day and the number of flowers; while a single blossom may seem scentless, a mass of them proves otherwise. Some flowers seem scentless up close but waft a sweet perfume from a distance, others require a nose up close. Ah, the joys of gardening....

    Next acquisition, a Parma or two. Any recommendations which or personal favorites?

  • etii

    hello folks :-)

    Tom, glad to hear from you again :-)
    About fragrant, I'm not sure the nose is the key, the brain is more likely to mislead us. I still believe many violets are scentless :oPPP Some European pride I guess LOL !!
    Greenwitch, de Toulouse is the best ;o)) No, just kidding and my personnel favorite 'cause it's the hardest according to my climate...all are fine...do it the way you feel it, choose the one you're fall in love with :-)

    A little photo, just for pleasure, hope you'll enjoy it !
    It's violets' time here !! PARADISE :-)



    All the best :-)

  • membertom

    Greenwitch, you've got it... "perception of fragrance depends on" lots of variables, not the least of which, is the nose... and the brain too (like you said Thierry). And mine (nose and brain) might be ganging up to trick me, but it puts a smile on my face either way. ;0)

    And of all I've smelled, Parmas would still be my favorite. Even though I can't seem to keep any of them growing for long. The odoratas, I CAN grow, and are without a doubt, scented. But Parmas are like candy.

    Beautiful selkirkii, Thierry. Spring seems so far away for me. It's nice to be reminded that it is really coming.
    Thanks, Tom

  • greenwitch

    Beautiful pic Thierry! About the botanical name, selkirkii - when I lived in Europe I introduced the Selkirk Rex cat (curly or wavy coat) there, had a photo spread in Le Figaro.

    I did get the two violets, apparently roof rats love to nibble them, buds, flowers and foliage - no worries, I rescued them to another location in time - they will recover. I will keep them over the summer where they will get misted and stay cool.

    I will wait on the Parmas, summer is bearing down on us (soon) no point in nursing them through temps in the 100's and I believe their blooming season wraps up if not this month than next.

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