They’re jumping up all over the place— miniature flowers with elfin faces, surrounded by petals of yellow and purple. No wonder we call them Johnny Jump-ups! The petite plants, sporting elongated heart-shaped leaves, must have started growing as soon as the ground thawed, to be in bloom this early.
These short-lived members of the violet family are not particular about soil, exposure, or water. However, for maximum bloom, grow them in full sun, and don’t let them get too thirsty. Skip the plant food, as too much fertility will encourage leaves at the expense of flowers. For a mid-summer repeat performance, trim back leggy plants. Prolific self-seeders, new plants quickly replace those that succumb to old age, and they will form a solid mat in a year or two.
Often used as edging plants, Johnny Jump-ups are perfect naturalized under trees or as a ground cover for spring-blooming bulbs. They also do well in containers.
(This article will appear in the Colorado Springs’ Gazette on 4/25/09; it is currently on their website.)