PRIMULA species - Primrose
 PRIMULA species Primrose 
 prim’u-lå Perennial Easy

Primulaceae; native to North temperate Zones.

Germination: Hardy types are best sown indoors after 3-4 weeks of cold-moist stratification. Sow at 55-65° and expect germination in 21-40 days. They can also be sown outdoors in late fall or early spring with germination occurring in the late spring. Greenhouse types are best sown indoors at 55-65° with germination occurring in 20-25 days. Greenhouse types include P. x kewensis, P. malacoides, and P. sinensis. They should be sown in the summer for flower display indoors in the winter and spring. All types, except for P. sinensis, require light to germinate.

Growth: Site the hardy types in part shade in a slightly acid to alkaline, rich, cool soil that is heavily watered, but still well-drained. They grow best in climates with cool summers. In warm-summered climates, mulch to keep the roots cool. Site the greenhouse types in filtered sunlight, provide 50-60° nights and high humidity, and keep the soil evenly moist.

Appearance and Use: The primroses are grown for a multitude of uses: from borders to bedding and edging, in rock gardens, for naturalizing, and as a greenhouse pot plant. P. auricula has fragrant flowers in colors of yellow, purple, rose, cream, or brown. It is hardy from Zone 3 to 7. P. x kewensis has stacked clusters of 3/4 inch, fragrant, yellow flowers. P. malacoides is hardy outdoors from Zones 8 to 10. It has clusters of 1/2 inch flowers in colors of rose, red, lavender, purple, or white. P. obconica produces red, pink, purple, lilac, or blue flowers. It is hardy in Zone 10. P. x polyantha has 1-2 inch flowers in colors of orange, blue, white, apricot, pink, rose, red, or yellow. It is hardy from Zones 3 to 8. P. sinensis is hardy outdoors in Zone 8. It has flowers that come in colors of red, orange, pink, rose, purple, or blue. P. vulgaris has 21/2 inch clusters of flowers. Flower colors are yellow, purple, blue, red, or white—all with a yellow eye. It is hardy from Zones 5 to 8.


Gardeners' Quotes

"What’s it to you whether or not we have an orderly, scientifically sound method for cataloguing plants and animals? Not much. But it comes in awfully handy for scientists who, up until the middle of the eighteenth century, had to say something like ‘that little yellow flower with the spots on its petals’ every time they wanted to compare notes," The Linnaean System of Taxonomic Classification, Judy Jones and William Wilson, An Incomplete Education