Sunday, 17 February 2013

Prima Rosa to Die for?

Primroses are early bloomers hence the name - Prima Rosa - first flower. There are 400 - 500 members of the Primulaceae genus.  Market stalls are full of these hardy perennials this week ... cheerful instant colour for pots or borders. If you are planting some take a good look at the flowers.  There are two kinds of primulas - the pin eye form where the style is above the stamens (look at the centre of the blue ones above - the pin is clearly sticking out) and the thrum eye form where the style is below the stamens.  If you want them to spread then the best seed is formed when cross pollination occurs between the two different kinds so make sure you position a pin eyed plant near a thrum eyed plant.  Collect the seeds in June or July and sow them immediately (Monty shows you how here) or leave them to self seed.

Now is the time to be sowing the seeds for next year's plants.  Soak your pots of compost by standing them in water before sowing the tiny seeds on top.  Do not cover the seeds as they need plenty of light to germinate.  Place a pane of glass over the top or put them inside a plastic bag to retain moisture then leave then in a warm light place.  They can be slow so be patient!   Transplant the seedlings into individual pots when they are 5 cm tall. They will be ready to bloom next spring. 

Alternatively you can increase your stock by taking  root cuttings (winter, when the plant is dormant, is the best time for this) or now, by removing a leaf with an incipient bud and growing it on - click here for the instructions from the Primula World site.

Dead head regularly to prolong flowering and divide every three years (after flowering) to encourage healthy growth.

The root and flowers have been used in many cultures to relieve bronchial problems, sleeplessness and stress.
Richard Earlom - Thornton Auricula
 I tend to take these plants for granted.  I realise a lot of time and effort has gone into producing the different colours and varieties but I didn't realise that primula plant hunters had actually died! Here is a short extract about plant hunters from the National Auticula and Primula Society website
When China first opened its doors particularly after the Opium war of 1860 French missionaries were quick to take advantage, although a few had gained acceptance earlier because of their scientific knowledge: this newly found freedom of movement was always relative and precarious and some were murdered. Abbe Soulie, who discovered Primula polyneura and is commemorated by Primula soulei was caught by the monks of Petang during this period of Chinese/Tibetan friction, tortured and finally shot. His colleague Bourdonnec was killed some months later together with his successor. Pere Dubernard (Primula dubernardiana), who had been of help to Forrest, was murdered during the same period, and Forrest himself, who was in the vicinity, had to flee leaving all his equipment and belongings. He was hunted remorselessly before finally making his escape.
... a host of golden ... cowslips!


  1. I don't have any primroses but I need to get some, paricularly for the area in the back in dappled shade. I love the colors in those first three photos.

  2. Wow, those are gorgeous--I don't think I've seen any that splendid and colorful before! They aren't quite right for my garden, but I enjoy seeing them in others' gardens!

  3. Your primroses look beautiful. Yes you can buy them everywhere in all kind of colours at the moment. In my garden I have self sown primula veris from seed from my parents garden, but it will take some time before they get flowers. I love the auriculas and your picture of it. I have a small collection in my greenhouse, they really do think me of the old "Victorian" world, and their fragrance is even more out of this world, lovely.

  4. What a well put together blog Patricia - your cover just about everything!
    I do like primulas - I don't have many in this garden and mistakenly forgot to lift some from my old garden!!
    My brother is moving house and he has a lovely mauve primula vulgaris - I lifted it last week and managed to get around 15 plants. He can have half when he moves and I'll keep the rest for myself.