Violet Flower Meanings, Symbolism, Origins, Benefits, Uses, plus tips on How-To-Grow at Home

Violets, delicate blooms with a sweet scent, have so much to offer when added to a flower arrangement or to a spot in your garden. Their history dates back to ancient Greek times, and their purple/blue blossoms are seen as symbols as loyalty and purity. As one of the first plants to bloom in the spring, violets are also attractive to a variety of pollinators, including bees and hummingbirds. In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about Violet Flower Meanings, Symbolism, History, Origins, and more:

Origins and History of Violet Flowers

Origins and History of Violet Flowers

Violets take their name in relation to their blue-purple color. However, they also come in shades of blue, yellow, and cream. What’s more, there are thought to be around 500 species of violets today that belong to the genus Viola.

It’s worth noting there are several species that are also known as pansies. Blue and purple shades are the violet’s most common colors. Most other color variations are a result of hybridization. Violets, violas, and pansies begin to the same genus, but each has slightly different characteristics.            

Violet Flowers in Greek Mythology

Violet flowers have deep roots in Greek Mythology. The story proclaims that violets were the creation of Artemis who transformed one of his virginal nymphs into the delicate flower to protect her from the approaches of her twin brother Apollo. This action led to violet flowers evolving into a symbol of modesty and restraint.

The earliest cultivation of violets supposedly traces back to 500 B.C. Here ancient Greeks used violets in wine, food, and medicine. The plant was seen as the symbol of fertility and love, and as such as used in love potions and to ward off headaches and dizzy spells. This tradition was so popular that it also became the symbol of Athens.

The Violet Flower – Species and Plant Family

Violet Flower Species and Plant Family

The violet was first formally described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753[ with 19 species, the genus Viola bears his botanical authority, L. Viola is a genus of flowering plants in the violet family Violaceae. It is the largest genus in the family, containing between 525 and 600 species.

Most species are found in the Northern Hemisphere in temperate climates; however, some are also found in locations such as Hawaii, Australasia, and the Andes, according to Wikipedia.

Where are Violet Flowers Native?

Violets, native to Europe and Asia, are indigenous to temperate regions in the Northern Hemisphere. They typically bloom from spring well into summer depending on the species. Among the family Violaceae are sweet violets, dog violets, wild pansies, bedding violets, and more.

The Most Popular Types of Violet Flower

There are about 400 types of violet plants in the genus Viola. In the United States alone, there about 60 species. The most common being the blue-violet (Viola sororia), which grows wild along the East Coast from Maine to Florida.

Despite the name, African violets are not part of the violet species. Sweet violets (Viola odorata) are recognized for their sweet scent. Bedding and sweet violets are the most popular varieties sold at nurseries.

Sweet violets also are known as English violet, garden violet, and florist’s violet. Violets can be identified by their bluish-purple blooms and heart-shaped leaves with scalloped or saw-toothed edges.

In general, violets are recognized by their five-petal blossom shape. These feature two at the top, two on the sides and a small one in the bottom center. Most violets are small perennial plants, but a few are annuals.

Violet Flower Uses & Benefits

The Uses and Benefits of Violet Flowers

While violets are enjoyed for their beauty and the sweet scent, they’re also popular in savory recipes, syrups, teas, salads, and sweet desserts. Both the leaves and blooms are edible. Since they are edible flowers, violets often are coated in sugar and used as edible decorations on cakes and other sweet treats.

Medicinal Benefits of Violet Flowers

The plant also is rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, particularly in the petals and stems. Vitamin C is known as antioxidant that boosts immunity.

Some claim that violet can be used similar to aspirin to relieve inflammation and aches. However, large dose of violet preparation can cause vomiting and digestive disorders.

Violets produce a scent that’s well-liked, but hard to describe. That’s because the blooms contain ionine, a chemical that temporarily desensitizes the sense of smell. Just as you take in the first whiff of aroma, your nose briefly dysfunctions, and the scent is gone! Some say it is sweet; others say it’s lovely. The scent, however you describe it, is a popular addition to breath fresheners, perfumes, oils, and lotions.

Violet Flower Meanings

Violet Flower Meanings

The English word “violet” is taken from the Latin word “viola,” which means “violet flower” or “violet color.” Its full Latin name is Viola papilionacea. Common violet flower meanings include innocence, everlasting love, modesty, spiritual wisdom, faithfulness, mysticism, and remembrance.

Violet Flower Symbolism

Violet Flower Symbolism

Violet Flowers in Christianity

In Christian writings, the violet flower is often seen as a symbolic emblem of humility. Because of its three leaves, medieval monks called violets “the herbs of Trinity” or “flowers of Trinity”. It is also said that violets symbolize the Virgin Mary’s humility. These blossomed when the angel Gabriel told Mary that Jesus would be her baby.

In the world of religious art, the violet flower meanings are often portrayed as a symbol of modesty and humbleness. For instance, in many paintings of the Renaissance era, the Virgin Mary is often seen with baby Jesus in her arms with purple flowers, in symbolic reference to her modesty.

In addition, the works of Leonardo da Vinci (“Madonna and child with flowers”) and Giovanni Paolo (“Madonna of humility”) feature the violet flower prominently.

Violet Flowers in Ancient Greece and Rome

Violet Flowers in Ancient Greece and Rome

Violets had many uses throughout history. Greeks and Romans were said to use violets as funeral decorations. Whilst Persians used them as a calming agent against anger and headaches. In Ancient Rome, they made wine from violet flowers, which they believed could prevent drunkenness.

You may remember Eliza Doolittle held bunches of violets in “My Fair Lady”. The dainty flowers have been frequent subjects in painting, songs, and even movie titles like “Violets are Blue” and “Purple Violets”. Violets are even mentioned in William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

Violet Flowers are the Official Birth Flower for February:

Violets also are the official birth flower for February. They are popular chooses as images on gifts, or as baby bouquets, etc. They also are popular in bridal corsages. The violet is frequently linked to the amethyst, the February birthstone that symbolizes deep love, royalty and happiness.

Interesting Facts and Trivia About Violet Flowers

Interesting Facts and Trivia about Violet Flowers
  • The violet is the state flower of Rhode Island, Illinois, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. In the United Kingdom, the dog violet is the county flower of Lincolnshire. The purple violet is the provincial flower of New Brunswick, according to Wikipedia.
  • An American Indian Legend depicts blue violets springing up from the resting place of a daring foe and his maiden symbolizing the breath of constant love for those that pluck the blue-violet flower.
  • Violets, and badges depicting them, are sold in fund-raising efforts in Australia and New Zealand on and around Violet Day in commemoration of lost World War I soldiers.
  • The violet was Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte’s signature flower. He used the flower to cover his wife’s grave when Josephine died in 1814. In addition, some of Bonaparte’s supporters were known to use violet flowers to assess if subjects were loyal to the emperor by asking them if they liked the flowers.
  • The purple violet is the official flower of the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.
  • Violets are used as food plants or host plants by the larvae of some moth butterfly species.
  • In astrology, the violet flower is associated with the sign of Taurus. The flower is influenced and protected by the planet Venus.
  • In Victorian times, violet flowers were often symbolic of good humility and fortune. Some even believed that carrying violets might keep evil spirits at bay, while another tradition said that wearing violets atop a head would alleviate inebriation.

How to Grow Violet Flowers at Home in Your Garden or patio

How To Grow Violet Flowers at Home

Violet Flowers can easily grow through root cuttings or seeds. They tend to do best in shady areas with rich and moist soil enhanced with good all-purpose garden compost. Before planting, aim to choose a spot some partial shade, but that also allows for winter and spring sunshine if possible.

The delicate plant is not the biggest fan of heat and humidity. Violets are great for cooler climates where they’ll happily shrug off colder temperatures. What’s more, they’re often one of the first flowering plants.  

What’s great is Violet Flowers are super easy to start from seed as well and once bedded will spring up for many seasons to come.

How to Plant Violets:

  • The best time to plant violets is in the early spring months.
  • Look to plant 4 to 8 inches apart in soils with acidic to neutral pH balance.
  • Mulch liberally which will help to keep the roots cooler longer.
  • Be cautious with watering cycles as the plants only need a moderate amount. Aim for consistent moisture but avoid damp, stagnant conditions as is a common cause of root-rot.
  • You can remove past prime blooms to help promote longer a longer flowering season.
  • I’d recommend fertilizing once or twice during the growing season with an organic, water-soluable fertilizer.

Violet Flowers are low-maintenance plants and can be grown close to the ground, making them an attractive option for ground cover. They can also be developed to stand up to 12 inches high as a potted plant and are also suitable for garden beds, pots, or planters.

How to Care for Violet Flowers

How to Care for Violet Flowers

Red spider mites are a known invader of violet plants particularly in dry, warm climates. Look to keep moisture levels topped up with regular watering. Also, a light dusting of sulphur will help to rid Violet Flowers of mites.

Wrap Up

For a variety of reasons, this dainty, yet hardy and popular plant has been passed down for centuries. Violets are so adaptable and versatile that they are an easy choice to enhance any size of garden, whether it be a bed or a pot. They require little care other than basic watering, feeding, and deadheading. And with their early blooms, they always seem to herald the arrival of another beautiful spring season.


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