Primroses are a member of the primula family which includes cowslips
(another protected flower). Polyanthus were originally bred from
crossing the wild
primrose and the wild cowslip and since then many different Polyanthus
have been developed. They are very satisfying plants to use in a border
or in flower pots
since they have long stems topped by clusters of open primrose flowers in a remarkable variety of colours.
All the primulas are perennial flowers, which means that once you have planted them, they will flower again year after year and will also spread easily.
Growing Primroses From Seed Or Buying Primula Plants?
If you are just beginning, it is probably better to start growing
primroses and polyanthus by buying plants as what are called
'bedding plants' (because
they are used to fill empty spaces in a bed) in the early spring. They
will flower throughout the spring and some perennial primula varieties
flower into the summer.
If you want to try sowing seed, the seed needs to be sown in shallow trays filled with seed starting soil in a cold frame or greenhouse either in spring
or early summer or in the autumn.
The seed should just be pressed down into the potting soil and then kept moist until they germinate. The little plants
can be planted out into their permanent positions when they are large enough, but they will not flower until the following year.
How To Grow Primroses
Many of the wild primula family grow in woodland and as a result the
cultivated varieties can tolerate shade. They do well if planted in
shade but will also flower even in quite deep shade. The ideal position
is one where they will get a certain amount of sun for part of the day.
The primula family will tolerate a wide variety of garden soils. Wild primroses grow best on acid soils but cowslips enjoy a chalky or limestone soil, the
opposite of an acid soil!
It seems that the hybrid Polyanthus can tolerate any soil type but they
need plenty of organic matter like well-rotted manure
or compost dug in before planting. Remember that these are perennials
which are going to be in the same place for many years (unless you dig
so it is wise to give them a good start.
If you intend growing primrose plants, primulas, and polyanthus in pots and containers, any good general purpose potting soil will be a perfect growing medium
for them. Combine primula plants with spring flower bulbs like daffodils, tulips, crocus or hyacinths for a colourful display either in pots or in the ground.
Primrose Flower Care and Maintenance
Dividing Primulas: Every third year each plant should be dug up
in the winter, divided into three and the three parts replanted as new
plants. If this
is not done, the plants will form large rooty clumps with fewer and
fewer flowers each year.
Older plants may develop black spots on their leaves. There is no cure for this and it is probably better to dig the plant up.
rather enjoy the leaves of polyanthus. They can be controlled by
putting down organic slug pellets (inside a flower pot laid on its side so that
the birds do not eat them), or by surrounding the plants with chimney
soot or wood ash - which has to be renewed, however, each time it rains.
Primroses and Vine Weevils: Unfortunately Primulas are one of the favourite plants of vine weevils. The grubs eat the roots during the winter months and
destroy the plants. This is particularly a problem if you are growing primrose flowers in pots. To prevent that you can use nematodes that will kill the grubs.
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