Violas are beautiful annual flowers that not only look good, they’re also edible.
Violas are easy to grow in garden beds or containers and they require very little maintenance.
In this article I’ll show you how to grow edible viola flowers so you can enjoy them in your flower garden and use them to decorate your meals.
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Viola is a genus of flowers that comprises more than 500 species.
They’re commonly known as Love-In-Idleness, Heartsease, Heart’s Delight, Wild Pansy, Tickle-My-Fancy and Three Faces in a Hood.
The flowers can be purple, blue, orange, yellow, white or orange and some varieties are bi or tri-colored.
Some of the most popular varieties include:
How to Grow Viola Flowers From Seeds
Growing violas from seed is fairly easy, even for beginner gardeners.
The best time to plant viola seeds outdoors is early spring, but you can plant them anytime if you’re growing them indoors.
Planting the seeds
Start by filling a container with a good quality, easy draining potting mix.
It’s a good idea to get a pack of mixed viola seeds, so you can enjoy lots of different-colored viola flowers.
Sprinkle the seeds on top of the potting soil, gently press them into the soil and cover them with ¼ inch (6 mm) of soil.
Viola seeds need to be fully covered with soil to germinate, so make sure all the seeds are completely covered.
Caring for Viola Seedlings
Viola seeds usually germinate within 14 days if the temperature is around 65 to 75°F (18 to 25°C) but it can take up to 21 days or even longer if the conditions aren’t ideal.
Keep the soil evenly moist, but allow it to dry a little between waterings.
Violas can develop root rot if the soil stays waterlogged for too long.
Transplanting Viola Seedlings
The seedlings can be transplanted into individual pots once they have at least two leaves and you can plant them out in the garden when they reach about two inches (5 cm) in height.
It’s a good idea to harden off the seedlings for a week or two before planting them outdoors.
To harden them off, place the pots outside in a spot that receives indirect light and gradually increase the amount of direct sunlight the seedlings are exposed to.
You can take the seedlings indoors at night if the temperature is still cool.
Violas grow well in direct sunlight during spring and fall when the temperature is cooler, but they’ll need some afternoon shade during the hot summer months.
Dig some aged manure or compost into the garden bed before you transplant your seedlings and space each plant about 6 inches (15 cm) apart, so they have plenty of room to grow.
Caring for Viola Plants
Water the plants regularly, especially while they’re becoming established and during the hot summer months.
Try to avoid wetting the foliage because violas are prone to developing powdery mildew. 
Fertilize the plants every week or two during spring and summer using a fertilizer specifically for flowering plants like Bloom Booster Flower Food.
Avoid using pesticides on the plants if you’re planning to eat the flowers.
Violas can withstand mild frosts and will even grow through the winter in mild climates.
Harvesting Viola Flowers
It usually takes 12 to 14 weeks after planting the seeds for viola plants to bloom.
The flowers are best harvested in the early morning when their moisture content is at its peak.
Pick a few flowers from each plant and they’ll keep producing more flowers throughout the season.
I like to use the flowers as soon as possible after harvesting them, but you can store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to five days.
How to Eat Viola Flowers?
Violas have a mild taste with a slight hint of tartness and both the flowers and leaves are edible.
Remove the flowers from the stems and wash them thoroughly under running water before eating them.
Violas pair well with many salad ingredients like goat’s cheese, radishes, asparagus, and other edible flowers like nasturtiums and marigolds.
Viola flowers can be used as an edible garnish to decorate salads, soups, sandwiches or desserts.
You can crystalize viola flowers and use them to decorate cakes or freeze them in ice cube trays to decorate your drinks.
Important note: Don’t pick violas for culinary use from a public park or from someone else’s garden because you don’t know if they’ve been sprayed with harmful chemicals.
Violas and other edible flowers purchased from florists are almost always sprayed with toxic chemicals, so avoid eating those as well. 
So there are my tips for growing edible viola flowers in your garden.
I hope this article has inspired you to make use of the beautiful flowers from your viola plants.
Have you tried using viola flowers in your meals? Let me know in the comments below.