This is a short article showing how we use the seed to propagate viola labradorica (Alpine violet) in our plant nursery.
Viola labradorica is a great, hardy little violet. It naturalises very easily hence why we propagate it using the seed. They are very prolific. Viola labradorica is also known, possibly more correctly as viola riviniana ‘purpurea’ (Purple dog voilet).
It has many uses in the garden setting but my favourite is as an understory ground cover beneath small to medium sized trees such as Japanese maples or silver birches. No need to worry about frosts, alpine violet is a tough cookie!
In this kind of planting I feel it looks very natural. Planting it amongst trees also allows it to run rampant and hopefully smoother out weeds!
To propagate alpine violets all you need is:
- Potting mix
- Small pots
Collecting the seed
Alpine violets produce a profusion of flowers during spring. However in our climate in South-East Australia they seem to flower sporadically throughout the year.
The flowers are pollinated by small insects and bees. Once pollinated the old flower quickly produces a small oblong seed pod. Within the seed pod are many seeds.
We simply remove these pods before they open, place them into a small cardboard box or paper bag. As the seed pod dries it will open releasing the seeds into the bottom of the box or bag.
When the seeds have all been ejected we do our best to remove the dried seed pods, that now look like a 3 pronged star.
The seeds we place into a jar ready for sowing.
Sowing the seed
We find that the seed can be sown any time of the year, however the fastest results are usually late spring early summer. The seed sown for this article was sown in late spring and the seedlings were ready for potting approximately 1 month later.
As we are growing ours for commercial purposes we sow the seeds into good quality potting mix, we want to produce as many as we can. We use a seedling tray filled with potting mix, however you don’t need a special seedling tray just some old pot or any other container with drainage holes will be fine.
The seeds we try and sprinkle over the top of the potting mix as evenly as possible. Most of the time I don’t even cover them with a thin layer of potting mix. I just throughly water them in.
Something worth trying if you aren’t interested in the maximum numbers of plants possible would be to sow the seeds directly into the garden while not all will sprout I would certainly expect enough to be able to colonise the area.
I generally like to sow any seeds I collect fresh but with these you can keep them stored in a dry area for at least 12 months and they will remain viable.
Keep the potting mix moist! These seeds began sprouting within a week and by the end of the month, they had formed a thick carpet of seedlings.
Whenever propagating any plant it’s a good idea to keep the seedling tray, pot’s or containers in a sheltered area. What I mean is an area that will not be exposed to weather extremes and wind.
Planting the seedlings
I like to allow the seedlings to develop their adult leaves before potting. As you can see on the seedlings emerging picture the first leaves look different, these are sun leaves.
The next leaves the plant produces will be proper adult leaves. So once you see these leaves your ready to pot!
We just seperate them into clumps and then seperate the clumps into individual plants. As we are potting so many and growing for profit we use a small 50mm(2″) pot. You can use a bigger pot if you wish.
You can also pot more than one plant per pot if you desire. We prefer the smaller sized pots as this saves space, makes them easier to water, whilst still providing a good little root system.
For best results use a good quality potting or seedling mix with plenty of organic material and trace elements.
Remember to water the newly potted seedlings really well! We almost always use seasol to water in our freshly potted plants. I Find it really gives them a great kick start with much faster root growth.
Seasol is a seaweed based liquid fertiliser I’m sure the other brands work just as well.
I like to keep the plants in a sheltered area for another month just while the roots develop. Again this is just to shelter them from wind and any extremes in weather, just while they are young.
Keep the little plants nice and moist during this period.
After 4-6 weeks there should be really strong root growth. The plants can now be placed out into the garden or placed in exposed positions still in their pots.
And that’s about it. Enjoy you new plants, share with friends and family.
I do hope this article has been somewhat helpful. If so I’d love if you show your support and subscribe. Happy planting:)
We have also put together a resource page that contains links to the products we use or similar. If you want to check that out click the link.
Growing alpine violet by seed video
Alpine violet or Dog violet
Viola labradorica is a clump forming perennial ground cover. It has soft purple- green foliage. In spring and summer it produces loads of purple flowers.
A great choice as an understory plant in woodland gardens. Also great to add as a border along shaded paths.
Prefers a moist spot in the garden. Though meant to be grown in the shade. We’ve had success growing them out in the sun. In the garden we have them planted under silver birches. Spreads readily.
Botanical name: Viola labradorica or Viola riviana Purpurea
Common name: Alpine Violet, Dog Violet
Native to: North America & Greenland
Flowers: spring into summer
Position: Part shade/Shade