Louisiana Super Plants: Sorbet Violas

Jeb Fields, Edwards, Ashley, Thiessen, Maureen, Abdi, Damon

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Sorbet Violas (Viola cornuta)

  • Recommended Use: Cool-season bedding plant, containers, hanging baskets, borders
  • Exposure: Sun to partial sun
  • Size: 6 to 8 inches high, 8 to 12 inches wide
  • Habit: Mounded
  • Bloom Time: Autumn through late spring
  • Maintenance Category: Low
  • Water Use: Moderate
  • Highlights: Cool-season color, low maintenance, cold hardy, profuse blooming


Violas have been a long-time cool-season favorite and a go-to plant for the southern garden. Like its cousin, the pansy, violas can survive sub-freezing temperatures, providing vibrant color throughout the dullest months of the year when many of its counterparts in the landscape struggle to hold up.

While violas produce smaller flowers than pansies do, they typically produce more blooms and exhibit better performance in the landscape. The Sorbet series of violas is well known for its wide variety of colors and its performance as the most prolific blooming violas in LSU AgCenter trials. The Sorbet series violas are also more uniform and compact than most other varieties, providing a cleaner, more refined look to the landscape. The 1-inch flowers can be found in hues of yellow, orange, blue, purple and white, providing an array of aesthetic attributes in planting beds. The bloom “faces” come in a variety of patterns as well: multicolored, solid, some with whiskers and some with contrasting halos in the center. Colors and patterns can be mixed and matched to provide variety and create areas of unique interest in the landscape. In addition to being visually attractive, the flowers are even edible and make for beautiful garnishes. Whether it is in the garden or as a garnish, Sorbet violas are sure to be a sign of good taste.

Sorbet violas are best planted in sunny spots with good drainage. While they can tolerate shade, providing at least four to six hours of sunlight will create the best blooms. Deer love to graze on violas – the flowers are like a gourmet snack. Otherwise, violas are relatively free of pest and disease issues. The ideal time to begin planting is early fall when temperatures have cooled. Gardeners can expect to enjoy the blooms until temperatures rise in mid-May.


  • Sorbet violas can be purchased as seed or transplant.
  • Fertilizer can be incorporated into the top layer of soil, placed in the planting hole or applied via liquid feed.
  • Plant transplants October through February, preferably in a location receiving at least four to six hours of sunlight for ideal bloom.
  • Optimal soil pH is slightly acidic to neutral, and 6.5-7.0 is considered ideal.
  • Space plants 8 to 12 inches apart in the landscape.

Growth Habit

  • Sorbet violas have a mounding habit, reaching 6 to 8 inches tall, and 8 to 12 inches wide.
  • The dark green foliage has slightly scalloped edges,
  • which eventually become obscured by the proliferation of blooms.
  • Suitable as a bedding plant, in containers, hanging baskets, window boxes and wherever color is desired. Mixing and matching colors and flower forms allows for unique container creations.

Care and Maintenance

  • Violas are quite sturdy and hardy; they will survive frost and freeze.
  • Water well at planting and during the initial two weeks after transplant.
  • Container and basket plantings may require more frequent watering than in-ground plantings.
  • Protect violas with fencing if you have deer, as they enjoy eating the flowers.

Closeup of yellow and purple sorbet violas.

Sorbet violas are available in an assortment of colors including multicolored varieties. LSU AgCenter file photo

Closeup of orange sorbet violas.

Violas produce smaller flowers than pansies but typically produce more blooms. LSU AgCenter file photos

Yellow and purple sorbet violas.

The Sorbet series violas are also more uniform and compact than most other varieties. LSU AgCenter file photo

3/16/2023 3:11:36 PM
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