A “series,” such as the Sorbet series violas, is a group of plants that are similar in how they grow but differ in a particular characteristic, such as flower color. All of the colors in the Sorbet series appear on uniform plants that grow about 6 inches tall by 12 inches wide.
When they go to garden centers and nurseries, gardeners often walk right past the violas and head straight for the pansies. Pansy flowers are much larger than violas, and in the nursery they look much more impressive. But violas can beat pansies when it comes to garden performance.
Flowering on Sorbet viola plants is so prolific it can obscure the foliage, and the smaller flowers hold up to rainy winter weather much better than pansies.
Sorbet violas are more uniform and compact than other types of violas. They are completely winter hardy in Louisiana and are an outstanding choice for beds or containers. From a fall planting, Sorbet violas will typically last until early or mid-May.
Gardeners creating colorful cool-season gardens will find cell packs and pots of Sorbet violas at local nurseries or garden centers now. Look for the Louisiana Super Plants logo and information cards near the plants. Select the flower colors that suit your garden design and choose plants that are stocky with dark green foliage. You fill find that Sorbet violas come in so many colors you are sure to find those just right for your color scheme.
Unless you need an immediately full-looking bed, small viola plants in cell packs are a better bargain than violas in 4-inch pots. Planted this early, they have plenty of time to grow into large, robust plants. When planting these violas after February (late in the cool season), choose the larger plants in 4-inch pots for best results.
Plant Sorbet violas in well-prepared sunny to partly shady beds. Although violas like full sun, they perform well with 4 to 6 hours of sun. Prepare the bed by digging in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost, peat moss or aged manure and a light sprinkling of a general-purpose fertilizer. Thoroughly incorporate that into the bed, rake it smooth, and plant.
Space individual plants 10 to 12 inches apart.
Instead of digging a general-purpose granular fertilizer into the bed, you may apply a teaspoon of slow-release fertilizer in each hole as you plant. You should not need to apply any more fertilizer for the season. Or you can fertilize once or twice a month with a soluble fertilizer using a hose-end sprayer. If you use a granular fertilizer during bed preparation, apply more granular fertilizer in January.
When planting, first water the violas while they are still in their containers or cell-packs. Then, carefully remove the plant from the container. If violas are in cell packs or pots, place your fingers gently around the top of the container and turn the container upside down. A firm squeeze or push on the bottom should dislodge the plant into your hand. Place the root ball in the hole, and push soil around it to cover the roots. Make sure you leave the crown of leaves above the soil because planting violas too deeply can lead to crown rot.
Finally, mulch and water the newly planted violas thoroughly. Moving flowers from container to garden is stressful to the plants; it is crucial that they receive adequate water during this adjustment period.
The violas you plant now should last until April or early May. To encourage continued flowering over a longer period, pinch off faded flowers if you can.
It is relatively easy to keep violas free from damage caused by diseases and pests. Here are a few of the more common problems that may be encountered.
The first sign of root rot is yellow leaves, and then the plant becomes stunted or dwarfed. Make sure beds are well-drained. This disease is worse when weather is mild and wet. Another fungus disease, botrytis, attacks the flowers and leaves during warm, wet weather, causing brown spots. Spray with chlorothalonil or other labeled fungicide for control.
Aphids and spider mites cause damage by sucking the sap out of the plant. You can control them with insecticidal soap, Malathion or horticultural oils.
Slugs chew holes in viola leaves and flowers and are generally most active at night. Treat with iron phosphate snail and slug baits according to label directions for control.
What does it take to be a Louisiana Super Plant?
Each Super Plant must have at least two years of rigorous evaluations and have a proven track record under north and south Louisiana growing conditions. Super Plants must be cold hardy across the state. Super Plants must be easily produced and available for all industry wholesalers and retailers to market and sell.
The Louisiana Super Plant selection committee, composed of LSU AgCenter research and extension personnel, select plants based upon observations made in replicated plots and demonstration trials across the state. When you choose Louisiana Super Plants selections, you know you are getting proven plants that are “university tested and industry approved.”
If you are looking for a colorful, cold-hardy, long-lasting and reliable bedding plant for your cool-season flower beds, look no farther than Sorbet violas. You will be amazed by the prolific production of flowers and enjoy the bright, cheerful colors.