(Almost) everyone loves flowers. Who doesn't? The bright cheery colours, the sweet scent that permeates the room and the significance it holds for the receiver of a bouquet of flowers.
All is well until the flower starts to wither a few days later, which is part and parcel of nature but also a sad reality.
Growing them yourself, on the other hand, extends the length of time you get to enjoy and admire the flowers.
The picture you see above are violas that were grown in a Singapore apartment's bomb shelter.
This small plant forms neat, tufted clumps of foliage and its small, spring green leaves are oval or heart-shaped and have scalloped edges. Its delicate, five-petaled, violet-like flowers come in shades of violet-blue, lavender, purple or white. Each flower is subtly fragrant and has a small awl-shaped spur, or nectary, at its base.
As Violas are primarily cool season bloomers, they are better for starting and ending the season in colder climates, and therefore germinate better under slightly colder temperatures of 23 degrees Celsius and under.
This means a week of air-conditioning in the office or in the evenings would be conducive for this to grow. Once the seeds have germinated, they can better withstand the warmer ambient temperatures of Singapore's weather.
Alternatively, you can try placing the pods in a shallow bowl of water and place them in the fridge for the first 5 days. (This has not been tested by us yet, and might or might not work, but hey, that's the fun of growing and experimentation)
Once they have bloomed, the violet flowers with their mild, sweet flavor can be used to garnish salads, desserts and cakes. You can also make decorative ice cubes with a violet bloom inside, or try to make candied or crystallized violets.
Tip: Harvest freshly opened flowers in the morning when the oils are most concentrated and blooms look their best. The more you harvest, the more blooms will form. Harvest the sepals (base of the flowers) with the petals for added flavor.
If you are an avid baker, you would know how expensive these little guys are! Now's your chance to grow your own instead!
Else, just leave them as a beautiful floral centrepiece - they will be just in time for spring!