About Chinese Violet Cress
Chinese violet cress, scientifically known as Orychophragmus violaceus, is an herbaceous biennial/annual native to Eastern Asia. It grows in many habitats in central China, where it is often cultivated in gardens and as a vegetable. It will brighten your garden with captivating violet blooms and grows to a height and spread ranging from one to two feet, making it a hardy and versatile addition.
Chinese violet cress is at its best in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 10. In regions where temperatures consistently drop below 20° F, it's advisable to provide protection, such as a cold frame.
When to Plant Chinese Violet Cress Seeds
Start the seeds indoors during late winter and transplant them outdoors once the hardening off process and final spring frosts have passed. Learn more about hardening off seedlings here.
To cultivate Chinese violet cress as a biennial, sow seeds directly in your outdoor garden in late spring or early summer. If need be, transplant the seedlings to a sunny bed once they've developed two sets of leaves.
Should you opt for a winter annual, sow seeds outdoors in the fall. In regions where Chinese violet cress is winter-hardy, plant seeds directly in the ground. For areas with marginal winter hardiness, consider using a cold frame.
Where to Plant Chinese Violet Cress Seeds
This plant thrives in full sun, appreciating the warmth and light. It's most content in well-drained soils with moderate moisture levels. Be cautious, as Chinese violet cress is intolerant of shaded areas.
How to Plant Chinese Violet Cress Seeds
If seedlings were started indoors, the ideal time to transplant Chinese violet cress is during the late spring to early summer season. This period offers warmer temperatures and more predictable weather patterns, creating optimal conditions for the growth of Chinese violet cress. Transplanting during this timeframe allows the plant to establish a deep root system before the peak of summer heat, enhancing its resilience and potential for flowering.
Determine the best day for transplanting, ideally, it should be a cloudy day or late in the afternoon or evening to avoid heat stress. Make sure your chinese violet cress plants are well watered before starting.
Space the individual plants one to two feet apart. This will give each plant ample room to grow and flourish, preventing overcrowding and promoting healthier growth.
How to Care for Chinese Violet Cress
With rich green to blue-green leaves featuring notched margins and heart-shaped bases, Chinese violet cress boasts an attractive appearance. As it matures, smaller-leaved stems elegantly trail, and vibrant violet flowers with strikingly bright yellow centers bloom throughout the summer.
Chinese violet cress is not known to have any serious insect or disease problems.
In its native China, edible stalks are typically harvested in the second year after flowering. Additionally, the edible flowers and leaves make delightful and flavorful additions to salads.