Viola labradorica

labradorian violet    Perennial of the Month-- March 2005 

(vI-Ol' ah  lah-brah-door' eh-cah) (pronunciation at link, turn up volume if too low)

Common name: Labrador Violet

Family: Violaceae, Violet

Height x width: 1-3" x 4-6"

Growth rate; habit: moderate, spreading, self-sowing

Foliage: ovate to one-inch across, heart-shaped, smooth to shiny, purple-tinged to dark purple depending on plant and climate location (often greener in warmer climates), often darker at base of leaves or new foliage

Flowers: lavender-blue,  typical violet flowers on leafy stems above foliage in late spring South/early summer North (late May/early June)

Hardiness: USDA zones 2/3 to 7/8

Soil: prefers moist soil, well-drained

Light: full sun to part or full shade North, full to part shade South

Pests and problems: none serious

Landscape habit, uses: massed groundcover under and around other perennials and shrubs, particularly in shade gardens; containers, attractive to some butterflies; naturalized in woodlands; combines well with daffodils, primroses, rhododendrons; a great and easy native plant for its flowers and foliage, especially in shady areas

Other interest:  native to moist woods of northern U.S., eastern Canada, Greenland.  Much confusion exists in its name, the still commonly used being the above.  Some may list it as V. labradorica 'Purpurea' due to its purple leaves, however the species has varying degrees of purple leaves, often a function of climate, so this is likely not accurate.  Some taxonomists now consider this plant V. riviana Pupurpea Group, however this species is listed as twice the height (20cm) of labradorica (10cm), the latter being more what is seen with this plant; the former is native to Europe and not Canada and surrounding, and is only listed as hardy to zone 5, while the plant is much hardier.  For these reasons, and to avoid confusion, I've chosen to stick with the commonly used name.

Other culture: may spread by self-sowing and creeping stems (can be aggressive in ideal locations), deadheading may promote longer bloom and new flush of growth

Propagation: seed, easy division of plantlets

Sources: commercially from North Creek Nurseries and others; retail from Avant Gardens, and other specialty perennial and native plant nurseries, seed may be available from societies such as New England Wildflower Society

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