Violet is the name for a group of small (4 to 6 inch) perennial plants that generously bloom in the springtime. Summer blooms are possible in optimum conditions of filtered shade and a proper soil pH of 6.5 to 7. The common wood violet (viola odorata) has a most heavenly fragrance found only in this species of flowering plant used historically for food and medicine. The leaves are light green and heart shaped with fuzzy stems and five petaled blooms which appear in clusters.
The african violet (saintpaulia) is typically grown as a windowsill houseplant although it can do equally well outdoors in a mixed bed. The rounded and ruffled flowers are also carried in rounded clusters in the center of fuzzy green leaves. Water only when the foliage can dry off before nighttime. They need plenty of water during their growing period, but the soil must be well drained so water doesn't collect and cause root rot. To build up violets for flowering, commercial growers cut off the runners as fast as they appear. Plants over three years old won't produce flowers as readily as young ones so propagation of rooted cuttings assures a constant supply of these fragrant and seemingly delicate beauties. Liquid manure is your best bet for fertilization and the addition of lime to the soil when pH falls out of the 6.5 to 7 range.