Primrose is the common name for a number of species that belong to the Primula genus (which contains more than 500 species) in the family Primulaceae. These species are valued for their ornamental flowers and have been extensively cultivated and hybridized – in some cases, for many hundreds of years. Almost half of the known species are from the Himalayas.
The vast majority of primroses used in gardening and landscaping are hybrids and are often labeled Primula x polyantha or are just sold by the name of the cultivar. Primula vulgaris is one of the main parents in the line of polyantha hybrids.
Primrose (Primula vulgaris) is a flowering plant native to western and southern Europe, northwest Africa and southwest Asia. It is occasionally referred to as Common Primrose or English primrose to distinguish it from other species in the Primula that also called primroses.
The Supernova series (Primula x polyantha), which is a hybrid cross between Primula vulgaris and Primula veris, comes in many bright colors and bi-colors. Some flowers have contrasting colored “eyes” and some are plain. Great as a container plant on decks and at entrances.
- Bloom starts very early in the spring.
- Large flowers on compact plants.
- Non-aggressive and non-invasive
- Disease resistant.
In the Garden
Primrose flowers (Primula polyantha) bloom in early spring, offering a variety of form, size, and color. Blooming often lasts throughout summer and in some areas, they will continue well into fall season.
Most primrose flowers seen in gardens are Polyanthus hybrids, which range in color from white, cream and yellow to orange, red and pink. There are also purple and blue primrose flowers.
Primroses do well in a woodland setting, with spring bulbs, in a rock garden, or next to a stream or pond. They are also lovely in containers where they can brighten a deck or window box early in the growing season. Mass them in annual beds or use them in the foreground of a perennial border with taller species growing behind them.
Caring & Growing
Growing primrose is easy, as these plants are quite hardy and adaptable. However, due to the large number of hybrids within this species, there can be considerable differences on what is the optimal growing condition between different cultivars/varieties. Make sure to check out cultivar specific information for best results.
Most Primula are hardy in USDA zones 3-7. Though they are perennial plants, they grow so poorly in the heat of summer that many gardeners treat them as spring annuals.
Most hybrid primroses require a cool climate and will have to be grown as annuals in warmer southern regions.
Primroses grow best in partial shade though in cooler climates some species can take full sun.
Grow well in soil conditions vary from rich loam to average soils that is well drained. Prefer soils that is cool, moist and rich in organic matter.
Amended soil with organic compost and leaf mold during planting for best results. Add leaf mold each year as a mulch, and to fertilize the plants
Requires consistently moist soil. Do not let soil dry out between waterings. Primrose prefer damp, woodland-like conditions.
Primrose will be benefited by light applications of organic fertilizer throughout the growing season.
Misc. Maintenance Tips
Keep primrose plants looking their best with regular pruning of dead leaves and spent blooms.