Commonly known as ‘heartsease’ or ‘Johnny-jump-up’, Viola tricolor is a cheery little annual guaranteed to brighten up the bleakest winter’s day. A rainbow of different cultivars has been produced by plant breeders, with flowers available in every colour except green. The species has dainty white, purple and yellow flowers borne most freely from late autumn to late spring. In recent years, heartsease has regained popularity as a dual-purpose plant. It has a long history of use in herbal medicine, and the edible flowers add a splash of colour to cakes and salads. Seedlings are widely available in nurseries, but heartsease is also easy to grow from seed. Sow into punnets, then transplant to a fertile garden bed or a decorative container.
By: Justin Russell
First published: March 2012