A primrose path

I don’t mean to brag but my expertise in the genus primula is really growing by leaps and bounds.  Vulgaris and veris were strangers a few months ago but now they’re names I can put a face to and to be completely honest I’m feeling a bit smug…  I do grow them from seed you know.

So I thought maybe it was time to officially rename a few misnamed seedlings and hit the computer for a little looking around online.  My bliss was shattered when I discovered there are more than a few primula species out there.  In the interest of keeping my self confidence up and my ignorance intact I’m not planning on finding an exact number, but my less than indepth research has discovered at least a primula for every letter of the alphabet from P. advena to P. zambalensis, and at least 30 species in just the ‘a’ section alone.  India has over 100 species… who knew?

Well apparently plenty of people knew, so I’m going to just return to my humble garage and enjoy a few of the flowers showing up under my growlight this winter.  Did I mention I grew a primrose from seed?  They’re probably a self-sowing weed in your garden but I’ll be the first to admit that even after a number of years it’s still the simplest of things that make me happy.

primrose belarina pink tartan red

The ‘Tartan Reds’ are indeed from seed, but the double pink ‘belarina pink ice’ was given to me by a friend last spring.  It’s much darker than it should be but I love the color.

I think I mentioned my primrose exploits in an earlier post and warned about more photos of the mealy eyed yellow auricula which was blooming…. and here it is again 🙂

primula aucalis

I think the white flour-like farina which coats the center of the flowers make these blooms really cool.  Notice how much smaller the other P. auricula seedlings are in the pot to the left, I really got lucky with how well this one plant grew!

The other seedlings from last year’s American Primrose Society seed exchange are also pulling their weight.  I’m still surprised that the neglected little things are doing anything at all but they are and I’m grateful for it.  Here’s my next big thing and also the reason I went searching through primrose species lists.  The large pale yellow sounds ok as a P. aucalis, but I am now calling the smaller blooms around it P. veris ‘sunset shades’ and not another aucalis.  I’m surprised by how much I like them, small droopy flowers and all!

primrose from seed

primrose from seed

Many new primula seed were sown last week and I’m sure I’ll go on and on about them some day too, but for now primrose are a nice diversion from my snowdrop mania.  Snowdrops are a problem and I promise to go on far too long about them as well since there’s the promise of warm weather again this weekend 🙂

32 comments on “A primrose path

  1. Pauline says:

    Primroses are one of my favourite families too, along with snowdrops, meconopsis, and snakeshead fritillaries! I have grown candelabra primulas from seed with success, the only way if I want drifts of them. You have a lovely collection, I love your cowslip sunset shades!

    • bittster says:

      Your favor for the primrose family shows, I always love seeing your border in bloom and there are many types which I wouldn’t even consider trying in my neck of the woods. They’re iffy here with my dry soil, but P. veris seems a little more tolerant. That’s one of the reasons I’m happy to see the beautiful shades which have come up, I think they might stand a chance outside and might make a real nice patch!

  2. rusty duck says:

    Auriculas are quite a challenge. I tell myself that as I have tried and failed. Well done!

    • bittster says:

      thanks! I’ll have to see how they do over the summer. There’s always a strong possibility this will be the last you see of it if it…. it may go the way of the compost pile when the thermometer begins to rise!

  3. My goodness that is a wonderful sight. I buy them, plant them, they grow and I forget about them….but they do not self sow in my garden. I have never grown perennials from seed, but that might be my next step…native perennials from seed.

    We are cold and snowy here but a promise of one warm day this weekend will melt more snow. Spring is still a few weeks off as there will continue to be some snow and lots of cold here.

    • bittster says:

      I saw your latest batch of snow and was surprised it didn’t make its way here… and a little grateful as well. Once you have that little taste of spring it’s so hard to step back again!
      Perennials from seed can be much easier than you’d think. I’m sowing most of mine in pots outside now and they’ll just sprout up on their own as soon as things warm up enough. Finding homes for them is always the bigger problem….

  4. I was going to suggest you join the Primula society but I see you already have. I love the pale yellow and I love doubles. Maybe one day I will try growing primulas from seed.

    • bittster says:

      I bet a few of the primula would do well for you, maybe that’s an idea for the next post office visit since I do have plenty more planted outside as well.
      Plant societies are such a good way to really go off the deep end with a plant group. I tend to give it a whirl, see how it goes, and then move on when the interest changes. It’s like a fling instead of a marriage.
      As you know I might be married to snowdrops, but primula… that might be just for fun!

  5. susurrus says:

    I like primulas too – that’s a lovely auricula you’ve got! I once grew a whole lot of candelabra primulas from seed. They were great when they flowered but for much of the year, they looked like lanky cabbages. It’s so hard to throw little seedlings away, but you can sometimes have too much of a good thing.

    • bittster says:

      Oh tell me about it. I have luckily become much more ruthless in my thinning out of young seedlings and there are only a few things where I feel obligated to grow on every sprout. The bad news is it’s in the most illogical group of plants… trees and shrubs. For me it feels so wrong pulling up tree seedlings and I need to steel myself up before my garden becomes a young forest!

  6. Paula says:

    Sorta, I have succeeded in my first attempt to grow these from seed. One pot so far. 😀

  7. Annette says:

    Self-seeding alright but not weeds, Frank. 😉 Actually they’re popping up everywhere and have started to flower, such a welcome sight. We have veris and vulgaris and as much as I admire other people’s auricula theatres I somehow think I’m not suitable for having one, thinking they’re too delicate but maybe I’m wrong.

    • bittster says:

      I would love to see primroses seeding out about the garden, what a beautiful vision of spring that must be! I’ve heard they are quite hardy in the right spot and it sounds as if they’ve found a few spots they enjoy.
      I know so little about growing primroses but I think the auriculas could be garden plants if you found the right spot for them as well. Better drainage seems to be one of the things, and I don’t think they like a lot of hot sun in the summer. I’m trying the potted route right now but maybe someday I can brave one in a garden bed…

  8. Christina says:

    Growing something (anything) from seed is always exciting. Well done, they’re lovely.

  9. pbmgarden says:

    These are just beautiful.

  10. Alain says:

    I am jealous of your garage. My primrose challenge is to grow Primula mistassinica in the garden. It grows all around us but finding a place for it in the garden is difficult as it grows more or less directly on limestone and near water. I found a place it might like but I now have to get seeds (I tried last summer but was too late).

  11. Anytime you grow something from seed you should be proud of yourself! My primroses are the common cowslip and they don’t seed at all but have expanded from the main clump quite nicely over the years.

  12. Cathy says:

    I have always loved primulas – especially primula veris. You have got a lovely mix of colours. Love that deep red one. I had never thought of growing them from seed, so admire you rising to the challenge – and succeeding!

  13. Amy Olmsted says:

    Oh My Word!! How wonderful you are doing with all your beautiful Primula!! One of these years you are going to have to attend a show at Tower Hill and enter a few of your plants! I am really impressed with how many you have in bloom. Well done!!

  14. varmentrout says:

    Happy to see another primula garden. Now that you are growing from seed, you are lost. Thanks for the snowdrop information, too. I just went out and took a picture of mine (we had snow cover in Michigan just two days ago).

    Can’t let you escape without a visit to Primula World. http://www.primulaworld.blogspot.ca/ First-class reference, including cultivation but especially the species gallery.

  15. Great job, Frank! I’m so glad you’re having success! I currently have a windowsill full of blooming primroses, but they all came from the grocery store! i do have three or four perennial prims up in the lasagna bed, including the nice one you gave me last year. As we’ve already discussed, there’s always room for more!

  16. You’ve reminded me of my favorite primrose which is the only one I grew in my previous garden: Primula ‘Tie Dye’. I am a total sucker for any flower having stripes, splashes or spots (hence my love affair with Geranium pratense ‘Striatum’) and with blue being my favorite flower color, that was a foregone conclusion.

    What’s even neater about Tie Dye is that the blue/white shadings change as the flower ages, so they are a darker blue at first and then a lighter faded blue at the end. A similar feat is performed by Viola ‘Magic’ although it’s more dramatic because that flower goes from almost solid blue-purple to solid white.

    I’m not sure if Primula ‘Blue Denim’ is the same as ‘Tie Dye’ or behaves the same way re: the color; I’ve only grown the earlier one (Tie Dye.)

  17. Indie says:

    I had no idea there were so many primroses, either! What a nice collection! Primroses are a little too formal for my garden, but they do look oh so cute blooming in early spring!

  18. Your Primroses are quite beautiful. I especially like the yellow and orange ones. Perhaps you could supplement your Snowdrop mania with a Primrose mania.

  19. You should be proud. And to have an Auricula! I love primroses but mostly have the common Veris. I do have a few sieboldii types and they are spreading nicely in my garden. Ordered a new variety this year which I will write about later in the season when it arrives. Primulas are a nice change from Snowdrops since it is generally easier to tell the differences among all the versions.

  20. humbleandpie says:

    Your primula are beautiful!
    I started my seed in my basement window and they have germinated. I’m wondering if it would be alright to bring them upstairs to my grow lights. I live in the north east and my house is probably 70 degrees at its hottest. Do you think it is too hot for my seedlings? Once germinated, do Primula need to stay in the cold?

    Thanks ahead of time 🙂

    • bittster says:

      Hi Lucy, congrats on getting them to germinate! I’m no expert but I think with primrose cooler is better but 70 shouldn’t be a problem unless it gets even warmer under the lights. I just noticed that my seed trays outside are now sprouting so if you can keep an eye on them and don’t put them in full sun you might even be able to start putting them outside for a little while each day and I think they would do really well in the cool weather, even down to frost temperatures once they’re hardened off. So I guess the short answer is it would probably be fine but it is in the warm side.

      • humbleandpie says:

        I have been putting my seedlings under the lights for two hours a day. I think I will try hardening them off. I will keep track of your blog…it is beautiful.


      • bittster says:

        Thanks Lucy and good luck with the seedlings. It was 20F last night and my fingers are crossed for my own seedlings!

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