All Posts   Posted:   February 28, 2017 by Nicole Forbes - Education

As spring creeps ever closer (just 3 weeks away now), early signs appear signaling the season’s inevitable return. For gardeners, we search our dormant landscapes for late winter flowers from hardy Hellebores followed by the emergence of early blooming bulbs such as crocus, snow drops and Dutch Iris. But truly one of the best-known harbingers of spring is the primrose; even its name comes from the Latin word primulus meaning very first and it is one of the first flowers offered for early-season color at garden centers.

Now that it is March, it is time to take a good look at your decorative pots and containers in need of a seasonal refreshing and dress them up with some colorful primroses for instant cheer. In general, they are cool season plants that prefer to be protected from frost and don’t thrive during hot weather which makes them perfect for early spring. Ideally situated in partial shade or filtered light with rich, moist soil – they can often be blooming from mid-winter well into spring. Fertilize monthly and watch for slugs!

There are a few choices when selecting primroses, often several different varieties are available each with slightly different qualities and characteristics. They are fantastic when planted in window boxes or containers and look great when mass-planted in flower beds but can also be brought indoors to take advantage of their cheery colors and sweet fragrance while in bloom (place out-of-bloom plants back outdoors once flowers have faded). Primrose varieties may be considered annual or perennial depending on the species/variety. Some types can cause skin irritations when handled excessively and many are toxic if ingested.

English Primrose / Primula acaulis

One of the most commonly sold types is the English primrose/Primula acaulis which blooms in a wide range of bright and pastel colors from February through April and is hardy to about 32 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a short, compact habit and forms a rosette of colorful blooms each with its own stem; certain colors are sweetly scented – especially yellow/golds. This primrose is excellent when planted outdoors with early blooming bulbs, pansies & Iceland poppies but should be protected from hard frosts; slugs enjoy snacking on their leaves & flowers so be sure to apply Sluggo to keep them looking their best.

Fairy Primrose / Primula malacoides

The fairy primrose/Primula malacoides adds height to your primrose planting with flowers growing up to 12” tall in soft pastel colors. Small flowers appear in clusters blooming on long stems and are attractive to butterflies in early spring. Best when grown in cool conditions but above 40 degrees, it can also be grown indoors.

Chinese Primrose / Primula obconica

Chinese primrose/Primula obconica has similar growth habits to the fairy primrose but with larger flowers and a wider range of bright colors in addition to pastels. Clusters of flowers appear on long stems giving this primrose some height (12-14”) and are long lasting; flower color tends to deepen as the bloom ages.

After a few days of sun breaks and a long, crazy winter many of us are itching for spring; plant a few primroses while waiting for the official start of the season – you will smile every time you see their cheery colors and smell their sweet fragrance!

As spring creeps ever closer (just 3 weeks away now), early signs appear signaling the season’s inevitable return. For gardeners, we search our dormant landscapes for late winter flowers from hardy Hellebores followed by the emergence of early blooming bulbs such as crocus, snow drops and Dutch Iris. But truly one of the best-known harbingers of spring is the primrose; even its name comes from the Latin word primulus meaning very first and it is one of the first flowers offered for early-season color at garden centers.

Now that it is March, it is time to take a good look at your decorative pots and containers in need of a seasonal refreshing and dress them up with some colorful primroses for instant cheer. In general, they are cool season plants that prefer to be protected from frost and don’t thrive during hot weather which makes them perfect for early spring. Ideally situated in partial shade or filtered light with rich, moist soil – they can often be blooming from mid-winter well into spring. Fertilize monthly and watch for slugs!

There are a few choices when selecting primroses, often several different varieties are available each with slightly different qualities and characteristics. They are fantastic when planted in window boxes or containers and look great when mass-planted in flower beds but can also be brought indoors to take advantage of their cheery colors and sweet fragrance while in bloom (place out-of-bloom plants back outdoors once flowers have faded). Primrose varieties may be considered annual or perennial depending on the species/variety. Some types can cause skin irritations when handled excessively and many are toxic if ingested.

English Primrose / Primula acaulis

One of the most commonly sold types is the English primrose/Primula acaulis which blooms in a wide range of bright and pastel colors from February through April and is hardy to about 32 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a short, compact habit and forms a rosette of colorful blooms each with its own stem; certain colors are sweetly scented – especially yellow/golds. This primrose is excellent when planted outdoors with early blooming bulbs, pansies & Iceland poppies but should be protected from hard frosts; slugs enjoy snacking on their leaves & flowers so be sure to apply Sluggo to keep them looking their best.

Fairy Primrose / Primula malacoides

The fairy primrose/Primula malacoides adds height to your primrose planting with flowers growing up to 12” tall in soft pastel colors. Small flowers appear in clusters blooming on long stems and are attractive to butterflies in early spring. Best when grown in cool conditions but above 40 degrees, it can also be grown indoors.

Chinese Primrose / Primula obconica

Chinese primrose/Primula obconica has similar growth habits to the fairy primrose but with larger flowers and a wider range of bright colors in addition to pastels. Clusters of flowers appear on long stems giving this primrose some height (12-14”) and are long lasting; flower color tends to deepen as the bloom ages.

After a few days of sun breaks and a long, crazy winter many of us are itching for spring; plant a few primroses while waiting for the official start of the season – you will smile every time you see their cheery colors and smell their sweet fragrance!