A little history…
Introduced into France under Napoleon III, this variety from Northern Italy has long been called “the Parma”. It was then cultivated in the market gardening area north of Toulouse (Lalande, Aucamville, Saint Jory…).
It is one of the symbols of the region which has been proudly wearing its colours since 1985, when the name “Toulouse Violet” (“Violette de Toulouse”) became a registered trademark.
Cultivated in open ground under glass frames since 1850, this very particular flower has contributed to the renown of Toulouse.
At the beginning of the 19th century, 600 families made their livings from the sale of cut Violets in winter, and used them to create round bouquets sold by weight.
It was so fashionable as to be exported to England, Germany, Russia, and even to Morocco by airmail.
The annual election of Miss Violet, the presentation of bouquets to personalities and at local dances would put the Toulouse Violet in the spotlight.
Violets were first crystallised in Toulouse at the beginning of the 20th century.
The perfume was created in the 1930s.
In the 1950s, a regional craftsman invented Violet liqueur and local workshops made “Violet Seller” dolls.
These by-products contributed to the fame of the Toulouse Violet, already widely known outside France from the sale of Violet bouquets in winter.
1956: a winter like no other
In the winter of 1956, a bitter cold fell on Europe. Market gardeners were not prepared for this very hard winter and a large part of the Violet crop was lost to the cold.
The harsh growing conditions of the time, the galloping urbanisation of the city, the development of the international market at Rungis and the increased competition of other varieties of flowers due to the development of air transport, put a strain on the sale of this small winter flower.
It was not until 1984, when the Haute-Garonne Chamber of Agriculture and the Midi-Pyrénées Regional Council decided to launch a research program to protect the plants affected by the cold. The flowers would henceforth be reproduced in vitro.
This is how scientists relaunched its production. Young plants were entrusted to regional producers, who have since perpetuated its cultivation. From then on, this rehabilitated variety was grown under cover in pots, above ground, on shelves at head height in order to optimise its growth conditions.
“Violette de Toulouse” is now a registered trademark.
Violets are produced in relatively low quantities today by a handful of producers who wish to perpetuate this unique tradition, a potent symbol of Toulouse.
The Friends of the Violet Association, the Violet Guild (Confrérie de la Violette), and the City of Toulouse contribute to this revival by organising related cultural events.
Since 1993, the House of Violet (La Maison de la Violette) has developed around a hundred derivative products based on Violets and continues to invest in the protection and promotion of this unique regional heritage - annually participating in European Heritage Days and by producing Violets in pots throughout the winter.
For more than 10 years, we have been cultivating the Toulouse Violet in a greenhouse, with the support of the Occitan region. The crop is on display at open house events from February to March.
The culture of the Toulouse Violet
The Toulouse Violet is a winter perennial that thrives outdoors.
It is easily damaged by the midday sun and prefers a shady exposure.
It can be grown in pots, window boxes or in the ground.
It appreciates a light well-drained soil (enriched with compost or a little manure).
In periods of intense cold, it should be covered and protected with straw.
In summer (June-July), its foliage should be pruned to prepare for flowering in the following winter.
Remember to water it well at this time!
A Violet like no other…
It is unique in that it does not make seeds, contrary to the other “wild” Violets.
It is reproduced by taking cuttings, by covering its runners in potting soil to encourage them to take root.
The mother plant grows and each winter gives magnificent perfumed double flowers with a Parma violet colour and white centre.
Download our advice on growing the Toulouse Violet :
- Période de floraison :
- Hiver (Décembre à Mars)
- Exposition :
- Ombre/mi-ombre À l’exterieur, à l’abri du soleil et du vent
- Taille du feuillage :
- En été
- Cultiver la fleur chez soi.
- Reproduction par bouturage en prélevant les stolons (printemps & automne)