Native violet (Viola banksii)

If you are looking for a wonderful groundcover that is ideal for a cool, moist and shaded location, then try a native plant such as the Native violet. These plants are grown for the carpet of small, green heart-shaped leaves that form as they grow and for the dainty white and purple flowers that are produced throughout the year, particularly in spring. Native violets are true violets but lack the violet perfume.

They can be planted year-round but should be kept well-watered when times are dry. To encourage dense growth, space plants at least 30cm apart and water them in with Seasol to help reduce transplant shock and strong root growth. Plants can also be grown between pavers, in hanging baskets, troughs and shaded window boxes. They grow around 10-15cm high and can spread up to a metre across. The plants spread by suckering and can be divided.

This garden plant is also widely known as Viola hederacea but has recently been reclassified as V. banksia, named for Sir Joseph Banks. It was one of the earliest plants collected in Australia during Banks’ voyage with Captain Cook in 1770. It is still widely sold in garden centres as Viola hederacea.

Growing conditions

Aspect Partially shaded to shaded moist location. Plants tend to die back if exposed to hot sun, so extra water will be required in this location to keep them looking good.

Soil These plants need moist but well-drained soils. Dig in well-rotted compost or manure and/or Seasol Super Compost as part of the soil preparation. Also add  Seasol Plant + Soil Booster to the soil when planting to aid with plant establishment and healthy growth. If growing in pots use a premium potting mix such as Seasol Advanced Potting Mix.

Climate Native violets grow in a range of Australian climates but are best suited to cool to warm temperate climates. Plants are native to eastern Australia so they will do well here.

How to grow and look after Native violet (Viola banksii) for beautiful native ground cover for a shady area including soil, planting, and feeding
How to grow and look after Native violet (Viola banksii) for beautiful native ground cover for a shady area including soil, planting, and feeding

General care

Watering Water native violets regularly more frequently if conditions are hot, dry or windy especially if they are in pots or hanging baskets.

Feeding and mulching Native violets can be fed via your preferred method, either liquid or granular food or a combination of both. Keep plants growing well with a granular fertiliser such as Seasol plus Nutrients All Purpose including Natives every 6 to 8 weeks during the growing season. Spread around and through the plants and remember to water it in thoroughly after application. If you prefer liquid feeding, apply PowerFeed All Purpose including Natives every 2 to 4 weeks during the growing season as new growth appears.

Use mulch around new plantings to deter weed growth before the groundcover plant can spread and act as a living mulch.

Pruning Prune to control growth as needed especially when planted around pavers and to deadhead spelt flowers.

Watch out Native violets have few pest problems besides snails and slugs that love to eat tender young foliage. Control these pests organically by removing them by hand (wear gloves) or use traps such as beer traps or barriers such as eggshells, wood shavings or coffee grinds.