Johnny jump ups are wildflowers native to Spain and other areas of Europe, though they have since been introduced to North America. Typically, these flowers grow in the wild, in the meadows, wasteland, fields, and beaches.
The johnny jump up flower grows easily, self-seeding readily and popping up in unexpected areas. It was named “johnny jump up” because they spontaneously jump up out of the ground, especially in places where you never planted them.
Johnny jump up flowers are related to pansies. Although they produce very similar looking blossoms, they can be easily distinguished by their size. Compared to pansies, the johnny jump ups are much daintier, with blooms typically measuring less than an inch in diameter. Aside from that, johnny jump ups are also smaller than the pansies; however, they often produce more flowers per plant, making up for their small stature with extra quantity. Lastly, both plants have slightly different care requirements.
The Johnny Jump Up Overview
|Scientific Name||Viola tricolor|
|Type||Annual or perennial wildflower|
|Common Names||Johnny jump up, wild pansy, heart’s ease, heart’s delight, perennial viola|
|Height||Up to 8 inches|
|Toxicity||Non-toxic, edible flowers|
|Light||Full sun to partial shade|
|Watering||Maintain moist soil|
|Pests||Slugs, snails, aphids|
Caring for Your Johnny Jump Up
Johnny jump up flowers will thrive in moist soil, but will not tolerate soggy conditions; therefore, it should be planted in well-draining soil. This will ensure that any excess water can drain away from the plant rather than sitting around the roots and potentially causing root rot.
When the plants are young, you should water them whenever the top layer of soil has dried out. If the soil is already moist, you should hold off on watering until the soil has dried out a little.
As the plants become more mature, they will tolerate dry soil much better, and may even withstand short bouts of drought. Nonetheless, it is still best to water them during periods of little or no rainfall.
In its native environment, the johnny jump ups are typically found in neutral or acidic soil. Although they can thrive in a wide range of soil types, they prefer fertile soils that are high in organic matter. If your soil is of poor quality, then you could improve this by working in some well-rotted compost.
Remember, well-draining soil is required for these plants because they enjoy moisture but will not tolerate soggy soils. To improve drainage, you can add sand or grit to your soil, working it well before sowing or planting the Johnny jump ups.
The johnny jump up does well in a range of lighting environments; thus, the place where you plant them will depend on your local climate.
Keep in mind that these flowers love sunshine, but they tend to wilt in very hot climates. For this reason, if you are expecting soaring temperatures during the summer, it would be wise to plant these flowers in a spot where they have full sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. Remember, afternoon shade will protect the plants from the sun when it is at its highest intensity. Plus, it can also prevent them from getting so hot that they wilt and die.
If you live in a cooler climate, you could plant these flowers in a position with full sun. They work well as border plants and look pretty in containers.
The johnny jump up will survive in a wide range of temperatures; however, the climate will affect whether they are annual or perennial. In northern climates, they typically grow as annuals. In warmer climates, you will see them grow as perennials.
As perennials, these flowers tend to be short-lived. Even so, this is not a problem. This is because they self-seed easily to create new plants to replace the old ones. Aside from that, you can sow these flowers at almost any time of the year. Typically, the seeds are planted in the fall.
These plants will survive the frost in most locations, ready to bloom when spring arrives. Though these plants are fairly tolerant of cooler temperatures, they can encounter problems with excessive heat. Some gardeners find that their johnny jump ups are more tolerant of heat compared to pansies, which wilt quickly in a warm spell.
If you want to be sure that they will survive hot summers, it is advisable to plant them in partial shade. They will grow well under the partial shade of trees, and they should be positioned in a place where they are sheltered from the sun during the afternoon when its heat is at its most intense.
Johnny jump ups are grown from seeds. They work best if planted in the late summer or fall because they can establish strong root systems, and they will begin flowering as soon as spring arrives.
If you are not well organized enough to plan for this, you can plant the seeds at any part of the growing season. Seeds planted in spring will bloom during the summer, while seeds sown in the summer should bloom by fall.
The first step in sowing seeds outdoors is to prepare your soil. Keep in mind that johnny jump ups are tolerant of a wide range of soils, but it will grow best in fertile soil. Afterward, add compost to your soil and ensure it drains well. You can work the sand into your soil to help improve drainage. Once your soil is prepared, sprinkle the seeds on the top of the soil. Very lightly rake the soil over the top of the seeds, so that they are barely covered. Remember, the seeds need some light to germinate. Lastly, water the soil and keep it moist during the germination period, which can take between two and three weeks.
When you have seedlings, you may want to thin them out so that they have a sufficient growing room. Ideally, the plants should be six inches away from each other, though they will tolerate some crowding.
If you want spring blooms but failed to sow your seeds outdoors last fall, you can start them indoors six weeks before the last expected frost. To do this, use a grow tray and fill it with moist soil. Sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil and cover them with a very thin layer of soil. Keep the tray warm by using a germination mat or by placing them in a warm spot within your home. Afterward, the seedlings should appear within a few weeks. From there, you can transplant them to slightly larger containers to let them grow stronger root systems. Once the final frost has passed, you can move the plants outdoors. When planting, make sure that each plant is six inches apart from each other.
Johnny jump ups also propagate well by themselves because they self-seed readily. If you want to encourage self-seeding, you should refrain from deadheading all of the spent flowers. The flowers will turn into seeds and sow themselves in the ground, surprising you with new plants the next season. Each flower can produce around 50 seeds, so you only need to leave a few spent flowers in place to achieve self-seeding (North Carolina State University Extension). If you would rather not have spontaneous growth in your garden, you can prevent self-seeding by making sure that all spent flowers are deadheaded.
Johnny jump ups do not require any pruning, except for deadheading. Deadheading the plant involves removing spent flowers. This will encourage further blooming, leading to a greater abundance of flowers and a longer blooming period. If your johnny jump ups bloom in the spring, you should deadhead them once the flowers are spent, and you should see a second bout of blooms that will persist through to fall.
Johnny jump ups are grown for their pretty flowers with various colors. The flowers are solitary, and they appear on long stems rising high above their foliage. They can be two-tone, in violet and yellow, or tricolor in violet, yellow, and white. They have a very similar appearance to pansies but are notably smaller. Their smaller size gives them a cute and dainty look, which is popular among heritage and country-style gardens. The flowers are popular among bees and other pollinators.
Johnny jump ups are predominantly pest free, and it is not common for them to develop insect infestations. However, they are susceptible to fungal diseases as they grow so close to the ground, putting them in contact with moist soil.
To help prevent fungal diseases, you should allow airflow around your plants. This can be achieved by ensuring that they aren’t planted too close together. You can also help prevent fungal problems by watering the plants at the soil level. Wet foliage can encourage fungal issues to develop, so avoid watering the foliage, especially if the plant is in the shade, and the water will not be dried up quickly by the sun.
The common fungal infections of johnny jump ups include powdery mildew, rust, scab, and fungal leaf spot. Depending on the type of disease the plant, you may be able to treat it with a fungicide. Moreover, you may need to dispose of the plant to prevent spreading the disease around the rest of your plants (Penn State University Extension).
Let us know if you have any questions about Johnny jump ups, and please share this page with other interested growers!