... growing and hybridizing all kinds of plants in zone 6b Maryland since the 1980's.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Viola X cooperrideri

Another history post from 2004... I still have two of the three nearly identical F1 hybrids I raised from the cross of Viola striata X Viola walteri. The third didn't die, but got left behind in a move. My original intention was to try to get the beautiful foliage of Viola walteri (which I'd purchased from Woodlander's nursery) combined with the vigor and cold-hardiness of the local Viola striata. I didn't get as much of the foliage color as I'd hoped but they're still really nice landscape plants. Each plant forms a big round mat of healthy foliage each season that dies back to the crown each winter. In the Spring as they're getting started they're also covered with chunky pale-purple violets. They also have a few scattered blooms right before they die for the winter. They're nearly sterile, so don't make a nuisance of themselves by aggressively self-seeding (like some other violets are known to do). I found out after I did the cross that similar hybrids have been found where the two parental species occur together, and that they'd been called Viola X cooperrideri.
I do find ccassional self-sown F2 seedlings that are rather variable and I hope to eventually select some forms for better foliage color.

Here's the not-so-cold-hardy but beautiful Viola walteri. The foliage reminds me of hardy cyclamens. Note also the tiny light purple flower.

Here's a picture of the seed parent - Viola striata. It's more upright growing, vigorous and has loads of (a little bit bigger) cream-colored flowers.
Below's an old picture of the F1, when it was only a year I think. The color of the flowers is washed out and should look a little more purple than it does. And also a foliage detail shot that shows undersides (top row) and upper leave surfaces (bottom row) for the two parents and the F1. Viola walteri is on the left, Viola striata on the right, with the F1 between them (eatly intermediate in appearance). The last picture (sorry it's so blurry) shows striata blooms (top row) compared to the F1 hybrid's blooms (bottom row). I never could keep walteri happy enough (or even alive) to have blooms of it to do a comparison picture.

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