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Primrose Primula

Growing Primroses: Tips at a Glance

From common primrose (in a soft shade of yellow) to hybrids in vivid crayon colors, perennial Primula is a cherry harbinger of spring.

  • Type Flowering perennial
  • Lifespan Dormant after bloom
  • USDA Zones 4 to 8
  • Light Weak sun
  • Water Wet to dry
  • Location Rich soil
  • Design Tip One to a pot
  • Companions Bleeding hearts, bulbs
  • Peak Bloom Early spring

Primroses: A Field Guide

From common primrose (a field flower with a softer shade of yellow than most spring blossoms) to hybrids in vivid crayon colors, Primula is a cherry harbinger of spring. Whether you bring home a pot from a plant nursery or pull over to pick cowslips in a meadow, primroses are a promise of new beginnings.

In England, Primula auricula is much prized for its “Elizabethan colors and lacy edging,” writes Kendra and bred for flower shows and medals. In the US, most plant shop offerings are cultivars P. polyanthus (vivid, look-at-me-now colors). In meadows and under trees, you’ll find P. vulgaris “seeding itself in unlikely cracks of mortar, as well as in hedgerows and across country graveyards.”

With more than 500 species, primulas hybridize easily. Most fall into one of five groups: candelabra, auricula, polyanthus, acaulis, or julianaP. veris (cowslip) is the primula likely to be found in open meadows and on dunes and cliffs. Whichever species you choose, check its native habitat to determine soil and water needs—they vary widely. If you select the common primrose, beware that in an amenable garden it can spread everywhere.

Planting, Care & Design of

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