The Beauty of Primroses

Spring comes to mind when you see primroses

My own primrose collection has been foremost in my mind over the past few weeks.  They’re just coming into bloom now and are adding a welcome splash of colour to what were very bare flowerbeds in my garden.

I am a big fan of the double flowering varieties. I have a miniature collection of them which all started out from a gift of a plant from a neighbour. I now have around 16 different types of double flowering primroses, all planted in a flowerbed just underneath a young beech tree. This position is the ideal place for primroses as they are a plant that enjoys partial shade and a rich, humus-filled soil. 

Primrose origin

The name primrose comes from the Latin ‘Prima Rosa’, meaning First Rose. The name gives a good indication of the flowering time of this plant. Often, primroses will flower from November right through to March, or slightly later, depending on the variety.

Why choose primroses?

Primroses are great, reliable plants for winter and spring. They flower for a long period and require little maintenance – two characteristics that are always important for customers who come into the the garden centre. Primroses have been popular since the Victorian era and, because of their reliability, they have never really fallen out of fashion.

Primroses brighten up window boxes as well as winter and springtime pots.  Primroses also work brilliantly when planted into flowerbeds where they can grow in to large clumps over a few years. The can also be divided when the flowers have finished, meaning you can quickly expand your collection over a few growing seasons.

Which primrose varieties grow best?

Primrose ‘Little Queen’

Of the many different primroses we have in stock at the moment, primula ‘Little Queen’ is proving very popular with customers. It has deep maroon and yellow flowers, with a gold edge to the petals. The flowers look striking when planted up in a large pot with some foliage plants as a contrast. Primroses last for ages, often starting to flower in early spring and lasting well into summer. Primula “Valentine” is another great one in my books because of just how vibrant red the flowers are.

Primula ‘Valentine’ Belarina series

Proper versus polyanthus primroses

When you are looking for primroses in a garden centre, there are two main types that you will find on sale, proper primroses and polyanthus primroses.

Proper primroses are the traditional ones that are just like the wild varieties that you would find growing at the sides of roads or in woods. They have very short flowers and produce a compact plant.

Polyanthus primroses, on the other hand, have much longer flower stalks and the flowers sit above the leaves.

Many gardeners favour the polyanthus primroses, especially as the weather gets milder. They are less likely to be affected with mould. Their flowers sit above the leaves and more air can pass around them, thus helping prevent mould. For many, it is often easier to remove faded flowers from polyanthus primroses without damaging any underlying flower buds too.

Preventing Vine Weevil

Otiorhynchus sulcatus – Vine weevil grubs from Primula roots

Vine Weevil can cause havoc if left untreated. Good hygiene is an absolute must, particularly when growing primroses in pots. Each one can lay as many as 10,000 eggs each year. Therefore, it’s critical that you empty out the compost and start afresh every spring. It may also be an idea to treat with Bug Clear Ultra Vine Weevil Killer. It will kill larvae within the soil and it will also protect the plant. The Bug Clear is diluted in water and plants should be treated a maximum of twice a year. To prevent further infestation treat the feeding larvae when they are most active, between July and October.