Garden violet – characteristics, cultivation and use

garden violet
garden violet

The garden violet is native to the Mediterranean and the Caucasus, but was naturalized early in Central Europe. It belongs to the violet family and has been a fragrance and medicinal plant since ancient times. The garden violet was so popular in the 19th and 20th centuries that it was widely used in the perfume industry, gardening and culinary art, with a variety of new varieties being created. In addition, as a decorative ornament, the garden violet is used in natural medicine for centuries, especially against headache.

Profile of garden violet:

Scientific name: Viola odorata

Plant family: violet family (Violaceae)

Other names: wood violet, sweet violet, English violet, common violet, florist’s violet

Sowing time / Planting time: October – December

Flowering period: March- April

Harvest time: March – June

Useful plant parts: leaves, flowers, roots

Location: partially shaded

Soil quality: moderately moist and nutrient-rich soils

These information are for temperate climate!

Use as a medicinal herb: headache, cough, hoarseness, chronic bronchitis, acne, runny nose

Use as aromatic herb: garnish, pure flowers, leaves as vegetables, flowers for sweet food

Plant characteristics and classification of garden violet

Origin and occurrence of the garden violet

The garden violet is native to many parts of Europe. The distribution areas of the plant are both the Mediterranean areas, the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean in Western Europe and many regions in Eastern Europe. Only in Scandinavia the garden violet doesn’t grow under natural conditions. It has also been introduced to North America and Australia.

Due to its relatively great importance, large growing areas can be found today, among others in southern France and Italy.

Plant order of the garden violet

The violet (Viola odorata) is a member of the violet family (Violaceae). Within this family, the garden violet is assigned to the genus Viola, which includes various pansies, Parma violet or the twoflower violet. Due to its great importance as a perfume and ornamental plant many different varieties are available today.

Characteristics of the garden violet


Garden violets are perennial, herbaceous and grow in the form of rosettes of numerous leaves. Its growing rather in the width than in the height. The common violet reaches heights of growth of about 5 to a maximum of 20 cm (2 to 8 in). The root of the plant can form numerous runners.


The leaves of the garden violet are of intense green color and have the shape of a heart, the leaf end is rounded. In addition, garden violets have lanceolate stipules. Mostly the leaves are hairy with a soft fluff.


The small, nodding flowers appear in March and April. Depending on the variety they bloom in pink, white or the classic violet blue. The intense scent of the flowers should have a calming and harmonizing effect on the mood. As one of the first flowers of the year, the scented violet is an important food source for bees, bumblebees and butterflies.


After flowering form seed capsules from which the fragrant flowers sow themselves.

garden violets
garden violets

Cultivation and care of garden violet


In nature, the garden violet grows especially on the woody edge. The light shade is its preferred location because it does not tolerate heat. A place in the sun is only possible permanently if the soil provides enough moisture.


Garden violets love a well-drained, humus-rich, loamy and slightly moist garden soil with high nutrient content.


Garden violets are frost germs that need temperatures around 5 ° C / 41 ° F to germinate. The seeds are sown at the end of summer until early spring directly in the field. It is important that the seeds get frosty.

Since the flowers form a seed capsule after flowering, they are capable of self-sowing. The seeds are literally “shot away”, which is why violets can spread over large parts. In addition, different insects support the distribution of the seeds.


A division of the violets is possible, but not necessary. The fragrant flower carpets unfold best if you let it grow undisturbed.


Garden violets are extremely easy to care for, and should be left to their own devices at the right location. Fertilization can be omitted, but a small composting promotes vigorous plants.


Garden violets are hardy plants, so no special measures must be taken in winter.

Diseases and pests

If the fragrance violets are in a warm and dry place, spider mites can spread.

Garden violet and its use

Garden violets are not only pretty to look at, they also convince by their smell and their taste, which also comes in the form of healing teas to the effect. Some hobby cooks also use the flowers for special tastes.

Violets in the kitchen

The presumed best known form, in which garden violets are used as a delicacy, are candied violets. For almost 200 years, garden violets in sugar coating are on everyone’s lips. The sugar violets are used as candy or as a decoration on desserts or chocolates.

In addition, common violets can also be used pure. They are among the plants that have edible flowers with excellent taste. The flower heads are carefully plucked from the plant and used for garnishing desserts or as a colorful ingredient in wild herb salads. The taste of garden violets resembles the fragrance: sweet and lovely.

Far less common, but just as edible, are the leaves of the garden violet, which can be prepared as warm leafy vegetables or eaten raw in salads.

Nevertheless, caution is advised when consuming garden violets. Eating too much of flowers and leaves can cause nausea and vomiting. People with a sensitive stomach, with general digestive disorders and pregnant women should avoid consuming large quantities of fragrance.

Another candy that does not manage without the taste of the violet is violet pastilles. Inspired by the violet blue color of the garden violet are soft drops of purple to black violet color. However, the taste is artificially helped by synthetic Jonon – the substance that makes the typical violet fragrance.

In larger quantities, the flowers of garden violet are used in the production of violet liqueurs.

wood violets
wood violets

Garden violet as a medicinal herb

Hildegard von Bingen already trusted in the healing effects of the garden violets. Together with other herbs, she prescribed concoctions with violet juice for the treatment of various eye diseases. In addition, Hildegard von Bingen prepared ointments with garden violets, which were used to relieve headaches.

Also in many herbal books of the Middle Ages and early modern times, the garden violet is often mentioned as a medicinal herb. The herb was described for both internal and external medical applications. There it was used for relieving fever, for dullness or side stitch. Externally, the common violet was used for the treatment of blisters or tumors.

The herb was used as tea, pickled or pure.

Garden violet can be used for these ailments and diseases

  • anxiety
  • bronchitis
  • bruises
  • catarrh of the upper respiratory tract
  • contortion
  • cough
  • cystitis
  • dandruff
  • difficulty breathing
  • eczema
  • epilepsy
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • flu
  • gastritis
  • gout
  • headache
  • insomnia
  • nephritis
  • nervousness
  • pimples
  • rheumatism
  • slightly laxative
  • sore throat
  • various skin diseases
  • whooping cough

Medicinal properties

  • analgesic
  • antibacterial
  • anti-inflammatory
  • antispasmodic
  • blood purifier
  • decongestant
  • diuretic
  • emollient
  • expectorant
  • improves circulation
  • reassuring
  • sweaty

Preparation of a garden violet tea

Time needed: 10 minutes

This is how you prepare a violet tea own your own:

  1. put one teaspoon of dried garden violet flowers (or leaves) in a tea strainer in a cup

  2. dash with boiling hot water

  3. let brew for 10 minutes

Violet tea used internally

Internally, violet is used primarily as a tea (infusion) for cough and bronchitis. Because the violet also acts sweat-inducing, it is also beneficial for feverish colds.

The use in gastric catarrh is rather uncommon, but makes sense, because the active ingredients of the violet have a favorable effect on the mucous membranes.

Teas from the leaves are also suitable for constipation, because the leaves have a slightly laxative effect.

Because the violet has a soothing and relaxing effect, it can be used as a mild sleep aid. But it also helps against constant tiredness and nervousness. The relaxing effect of violet tea also relieves the tendency to epilepsy, although violets are of course not used in place of strong anti-epileptic drugs, but can only complement them.

Violet tea used externally

Externally you can use violet tea for all types of dermatitis as a bath or compress. In this form, it is also suitable for the local treatment of rheumatism and gout (in addition to internal tea).

Use of violet root

The root acts in higher doses as an emetic and should therefore be used only in small doses. However, it is very suitable as a blood cleanser and against coughing.

The dried and cut root is often used for small children to bite them when they suffer from toothache. Such violet roots can be ordered in pharmacies.

Violet syrup

Take a handful of fresh violet flowers and let them draw in 300 ml (10 fl oz) of water with 300 g (10 oz) of sugar for one day. Then Strain the flowers and boil the “flavored sugar water” for about 1 hour in a water bath and let become thicken. The resulting syrup is then poured into a bottle and stored in a sealed container in the fridge. The syrup is suitable for coughing for children.

Violet flower essence

From the flowers of the violet one can also produce a flower essence that stands for self-confidence and the ability to stand up to oneself.


Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.

Buy violet – What is there to pay attention to?

Garden violets are very popular indoor plants, which is why they are quite common in commerce. In DIY stores, plant centers and online shops, there are quite a few different varieties that can differ in color, fragrance intensity and flowering time. The health of the plant should be considered. Small whitish coatings may indicate mildew and should be avoided. Also, no plants should be purchased where the soil in the pot is dry. Otherwise, the plant is relatively undemanding.

Gardeners who want to raise the plant by seeds, also have a fairly large selection of varieties. The cultivating is unproblematic for most varieties, as far as the plant-typical conditions are met. The prices depend on the variety between 1.50 to 3.50 EUR/$ per seed bag.

Some specialty stores and online shops also offer native violet oil. Here the synthetically produced oils are significantly cheaper than natural fragrance oils.

Who wants to have fresh medicinal herbs, can also buy violet tea. This usually consists of a mix of leaves and flowers. Because the herb is very special, violet herb is usually only offered by herbalists or specialized online shops. It should be noted that the herbs are flavor-sealed. Likewise, always the botanical name (Viola odorata) should be considered.

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