How to grow Primulas

Primula veris Primula candelabra 'beesiana' primula denticulata

 How to Grow Primula

Primula polyanthus

Primula are an easy to grow group of perennial plants which come in many different colours and shapes. Many people thinking of Primula will think of the popular Polyanthus types illustrated left, but in fact there are many different types, shapes, sizes and colours of Primula and they are great garden plants.

Within the genus are the Polyanthus group (image left) is the most common, frequently sold on line and in garden centres as winter and spring bedding.   It is easy to think of these plants just as bedding, but there are some lovely perennial Primula which make great spring colour.

In the first image, top left, is the  Primrose group which includes Primular vulgaris, the lovely common primrose; there are also the  Candelabra varieties centre image, and top right P. denticulata which as it's name suggests looks like a 'drumstick'.  Candelabra are deciduous which means they die back in the winter, but they do return reliably each year for a great spring display. The polyanthus and primrose groups tend to be ever green, or semi evergreen.

Primula will grow in moist soil, and many of Candelabra are popular to grow by streams and in bog gardens and are also tolerate shade. Primula Primula candelabra 'harlow carr'vulgaris, common name primrose looks lovely naturalising and a bank and will multiple over time. Some varieties of Primula vulgaris are scented and shade tolerant.  Whilst many Primulas are low growing the popular Candelabra beesiana will grow up to 60cms and the variety 'Harlow Carr'  image left has mixed tones of oranges and pinks.

Where to grow Primula 

Primulas are bright and cheerful and just ideal for a spring border. It is easy to grow Primulas, simply plant in dappled shade in soil tending towards the damp. If you have a wet area of semi-shade the Candelabra group are just  ideal. As a woodland plant, a position in semi shade, in soil that does nto dry out with a mulch of organic matter or leaf mould would be just idea. That said Primula are tough plants and will do well in most spots as long as not too dry and baking sun.

primular veris the common primrose

Sometimes the leaves on Primula can get a bit discoloured, brown at the edges and removing these will do no harm, (provided it is only a few not too many as the plant needs leaves for photosynthesis,) and also dead heading will help to keep the plant flowering. 

The simple cowslip, Primular veris image bottom  left,  looks lovely in a natural setting and will colonise a bank forming clumps. It is a more a delicate, simple version of the more blousy cousins in the Primula family.  Primula self seed near to the mother plant,  and it is easy to dig up the little seedling  grow on or discard depending on requirements.  

Primula mix well with many spring flowering plants, such as Allium and illustrated below with the hardy geranium . 



primula candelabra with hardy Geranium



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