Viola odorata, or the most common of the wild violets, are 2- to 5-inch-tall clumping perennials that are also called Johnny jump ups or wild pansies. Highly resistant to herbicides, they’re often considered to be aggressive, invasive pests. Tough, tenacious and eager to survive, wild violets produce deep, dense, fibrous root systems to locate and compete for available soil moisture. Plants spread rapidly by vigorous runners that trail from the crowns, rooting themselves to form new plants. They can even self-pollinate in the absence of pollinating insects. Those who despise Viola call it a nuisance weed, seek to destroy it and typically suffer defeat. Wild violets are notoriously difficult to kill, so even a beginner can easily transplant them.
Prepare a new location for your wild violets. Choose a well-draining location in partial or full shade such as under a tree or shrub. Work some organic compost like peat moss, grass clippings, dead leaves or well-rotted manure into the top 2 inches. The richer the soil, the happier wild violets will be. Although they’ll tolerate poor soil conditions, they’ll thrive and multiply rapidly in improved media.
Examine thriving wild violet plant crowns carefully during spring or summer. Look for clumps of multiple leaf stems, which will have the largest and best developed root systems. Use a hand trowel or garden spade to dig clumps up one at a time, taking a generous shovelful of the roots with it. Severing roots or runners will not harm these plants.
Plant wild violet clumps in their new location immediately at the same soil depth that they occupied before.
Water the new transplants enough to moisten their soil evenly, but not so much that it’s soggy or waterlogged. They don’t like wet feet.
Mulch violets about to about ½ to 1 inch deep if your soil tends to be dry.
Harvest blooms and leaves as desired after giving the violets 3 to 4 weeks to settle in to their new homes. Continue to keep soil evenly moist until frost, then discontinue watering for the winter.