Viola sororia

Viola sororia Common Blue Violet


 Confirmed Request

Also called Viola papilionacea, common meadow violet, purple violet, woolly blue violet, hooded violet, wood violet, and the lesbian flower, this violet is a very common plant found in a wide range of habitats. It also happens to be the state flower of Illinois, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. Freely self-seeding, Common Blue Violet will spread readily. It is sometimes considered a lawn weed because of its prolific and adaptable nature, but together, they are a lovely groundcover and provide early nectar source for bees and other pollinators. Viola sororia is also one of the larval host plants for the Edward's Fritillary butterfly, Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly, the Coronis Fritillary butterfly, the Mormon Fritillary butterfly, and the Variegated Fritillary butterfly. Spring is the typical bloom time, but because of the early bloom time, it's not uncommon to see many Viola species bloom again in the early Fall. 

There is debate in the botanical community regarding the variation of flower color and fuzziness of stem in Viola sororia. Some argue each morphology represents an individual species, while others argue they are indeed all one species. More study is needed to verify the taxonomic classification of these similar plants.

The flowers and young leaves of the common violet are edible. Viola (violets, violas and pansies) are among the most popular edible flowers in America--and with good reason. Not only are these beautiful little flowers easy to grow, but they are also among the few flowers that actually taste good. The flowers make a nice addition to salads, can be used as a garnish, or made into candies and jellies. Violet leaves are high in vitamins A and C and can be used in salads or cooked like spinach.

This particular plant has interesting cultural significance, as well. During the 1910s – 1950s, it was popular for lesbian and bisexual women to present violets to one another as a discreet way to show affection. This practice is thought to be rooted in the symbolism of the Greek poet Sappho, who was born on the Island of Lesbos. In one of her poems, Sappho describes herself and her lover wearing garlands of violets. It is believed that the practice of exchanging violets was popularized by people in New York, and slowly spread across the U.S.

*This species may be difficult and/or slow to germinate in cultivation. Seed of this species is kept under refrigeration (33-38 F) in our warehouse.  The days in transit to you in colder or warmer conditions won’t harm the seed, but it should be put back in refrigeration until you are ready to plant or apply pre-sowing treatment.

Live Plant Shipping Table

Spring Fall Age/Size
Dormant Bare Roots
April/May October 1-2 years
Potted Trays of 50 April/May N/A 2" wide x 5" deep plugs

Viola sororia - Common Blue Violet

Map Key

This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

6 Questions asked on Viola sororia

Q Kathleen • August 2 Hi Prairie Moon Nursery! We have an area by our house that is reserved for dog walking, so it will be seeded with grass. I'd like to add some violets or clover or other seeds to the mix to make it prettier and better functioning from an ecological perspective. Can you make a few recommendations, please? I'm in central Indiana (zone 5) and the area is full sun with clay soil. Many thanks! Kathleen Hartman
A Prairie Moon • August 4 Hi Kathleen, You might want to check out our Bee Lawn selection! These are plants that can be planted with grass and are either very short or can tolerate mowing and are great for pollinators.
Q Gaia Mouse • August 3 I'd like to get some viola sororia now. I live in Baltimore (zone 7B). Which should I buy, roots or seeds? Also, do you have a recommendation for another good plant for a shady area that would have a harmonious color (yellow , orange)? I would like the other plant to also be native to Maryland. Thank you for your help.
A Prairie Moon • August 4 Hi Gaia, The choice between roots and seeds depend on your budget and priorities. Seeds are much cheaper, but they won't start growing for you until the spring, and germination/growth can be difficult or slow on many Violet species. Roots will already have a year or more of growth under their belt. There are lots of great yellow flowers for shade! I recommend using the filter function on our website to filter for site conditions and bloom color!
Q Leon • November 17 Can you suggest a successful method to start these in flats/cell trays indoors before spring thaw?
A Prairie Moon • November 18 Hi Leon. Many Violets can be notoriously difficult to start from seed. Common Blue Violet is just one of those plants that does so well on it's own - slinging its seed all over the place AND spreading by roots - but for us to try to replicate that natural and successful seed reproduction method, we fall short.

I would suggest planting outside this fall/winter in a garden row (that will take care of germ code C(60) and M). Next spring, take care to put a screen or see-through cloth over the garden bed so any new seedlings don't get scorched.

Q Aaron Dettmann • February 22 Hi, we're looking for walking path ground cover in our pollinator garden, that we don't need to mow. Would violets be good to plant for walking paths? About how much area does 1/8 oz cover? We live in WI (zone 4/5) Thanks!
A Prairie Moon • February 23 The Viola sororia is a low growing species that can handle extremely light foot traffic. Maybe a couple times a week after developed plants are present. An eighth ounce of seeds can cover roughly 50 to 100 square feet. Remember, the larger the area for this 1/8th ounce, the more dispersed your seeds will be
Q Mike • September 20 What's the best method for establishing a violet ground cover? Should I broadcast spread?
A Prairie Moon • September 21 Hi Mike. The easiest and most economical way to introduce Violets to an area is to sow seed directly on the site in November. If budget is not a limiting factor, we offer Violets as 50-plug trays in the spring (sold in 2022 for $149). These will be instantly visible, establish quickly, and spread by root and self-sowing.
Q Sheila • December 17 I am interested to grow violet for edible purpose, like making candy or syrup, or use it on salad. Which cultivar that you carry has the best culinary taste ? Based on the written description at your website, only Viola Aurora is mentioned as edible. Thank you.
A Prairie Moon • December 18 Hi Sheila. Although we do recognize that some native plants are edible, our focus is on growing these species for preservation and restoration purposes. Culinary properties are outside of our expertise. Violets can be rather finicky to start from seed, so if you want more instant results for your kitchen, you may want to look into our bare root or potted plants.

Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds


We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants


3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

Shipping & Handling Charges:
SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free! Custom seed mixes or wholesale seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season:

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within a day or two upon receipt.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve).  We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May.  Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
C(60)     M     D
Life Cycle
Sun Exposure
Full, Partial, Shade
Soil Moisture
Medium-Wet, Medium, Medium-Dry
4 inches
Bloom Time
April, May, June
Bloom Color
Pollinator Favorite: butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, beetles Deer Resistant Highly recommended for home landscaping
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Number