I guess it always starts innocently enough. A friend tells you about a plant, you see a couple pictures of the plant, and before you know it a few seeds get ordered or a plant gets boxed up and something is in the mail headed for you. You didn’t get carried away yet but sometimes things just happen. This spring Primula sieboldii just happened, and of course you can’t place the blame on this gardener.
I’m going to blame the American Primula Society and the endless rain. Primula in themselves are a nice enough group of plants and as a rule they do like ground which is typically damper than this garden normally provides. When a few survived our normally droughty summers I thought whatever, let me try and kill a few more. That’s when the Primula Society seed exchange stepped in. Some of the best seed in the world is practically given away and who am I to say no to that?
Each winter a few more batches of Primula seedlings would get started. It was almost too easy. A pot of soil topped off with a thin layer of chicken grit with Primula sieboldii seed sprinkled on top. Put outside. Winter snow and ice and sleet and more ice and sleet and… well you get the idea, seedlings appear in spring. Once large enough to handle, better gardeners would prick out seedlings and grow them on during the summer, but some people have been known to leave them in their seedling pots all season and then desperately cram them into a hole before leaving on a vacation and still have reasonable success. They will bloom the following spring.
As you may suspect, Primula sieboldii is not the most difficult thing to grow. They are a plant of open woodlands and damp meadows through Eastern Siberia, Korea, and Japan and if you match those conditions that’s good enough. Cooler summers will allow more sun as long as the soil stays moist, but if your soil goes dry in the summer they’ll probably just go dormant (as mine often do) and reappear in the spring. I think fall or early spring are the recommended times for division, and a fertile, heavier soil is preferred.
Mine are due for division and a little more room. I have a few favorites that I’d like to see flourishing, and they can’t really do that where they are now. Surely that’s not my fault as all this unexpected rain really has caused them to explode into growth, but I expect some planning and foresight could have avoided this predicament.
A more disciplined and ruthless gardener would rouge out the plainer forms, but more than likely I’ll just replant them all, see what turns up, and then maybe steel my soul enough to make those tough decisions later.
I do have a favorite. Frilly and pink is not my usual calling, but it’s found a place in Primula sieboldii, and ‘Frilly Pink forms’ is officially my nicest seedling.
I’d go outside and see if a few new ones are open but of course it’s raining again and there are Mothers Day breakfasts to be made. Hopefully the weeds don’t mind yet another stay of execution.
Have a great week!
I am so envious! I bought some seed of Primula sieboldii last year and grew 72 as plug plants. I have almost finished planting them out in my woodland area and my first one has started flowering. Maybe next year mine will look more like yours, but at the moment they are very tiny and need to grow a bit. You have a really lovely selection, they really bighten up shady areas.
I am positive that your little plugs will take off next year! I doubted anything nice could ever come from my seedlings, but here they are a few years later taking over and requiring me to find new spaces to spread them out into. I’m looking forward to seeing what forms you get!
Oh my, primulas could be a severe affliction. I will be happy not to succumb. I haven’t had luck with these little beauties so I will just have to look at your beautiful photos and hear all about them. Have a great week.
I agree, primrose just don’t have an impressive track record in this garden either. Hopefully when we return to our normal state of drought these don’t object too strongly… but of course that would solve my transplanting issues! lol
So very pretty and delicate, not something I’d ever be able to grow in my hot garden but what a pleasure to see yours.
Haha, you’re right, I can’t imagine these in your garden unless they have some remarkable ability to go dormant for months in heat and drought that I’m not aware of.
I was thinking of your pergola this spring when my entire wisteria show was frozen by a late frost. I’m sure there’s no permanent damage, but right now the brown, wilted flower trusses are quite sad looking.
That’s always so sad, but wisteria are tough and will recover. Last year mine had more and bigger flowers for all the secondary flowers, although of course they aren’t so spectacular when the leaves are there. Mine was a straight beautiful this year.
Frilly pink form is glorious. (I keep find myself wanting to say, like Prince Harry, “to die for”, although you’ll forgive me if I don’t go that far!)
🙂 yes I agree, it is nice, but “to die for”? I’ll save that one for my new snowdrops!
Very pretty! I have a few plants in a moist area of my shade garden. Probably picked up at a plant sale, one is lavender-edged white. Every spring I admire all the different species and say I should get more, but never seem to, though I love them all.
So many plants, so little time 😉
I’m in a weird way this spring. I feel a purge coming on and might be doing a bunch of shovel pruning and then clearing house. That will open up new ground of course, and new ground is always the best place to nurse new plant obsessions!
Sounds like a strong addiction to me! 😉
You are having great success with your Primula!! Would you mind if I share your post on the Primula facebook group?
As the queen of primula you of course don’t even need to ask 😉 -but thanks anyway!
I love your variations. I got mine at a local sale as plants and they have not mated to produce anything like your seed variation. But they are definitely stars of a rainy spring.
I don’t think I’ve seen any self-sown plants yet. I’m curious to see what comes up since a few of the P. veris are multiplying this spring… which I’m sure is also thanks to the rain.
Beautiful. And the lilac backed white, exquisite.
I do like the details. The simplest ones are nice enough, but sometimes more is more 🙂 Although I’ve seen a few doubles which are not at all my cup of tea.
A lovely spring flower. I have just one in my very tiny shady spot behind the house… I need more shady spots!
Your shade will come before you know it. I was surprised to notice all the shade which has moved into here this spring, I’m not sure I like it!
Oh, how lovely, I didn’t realise they were so easy from seed. A blogging friend sent me one and I wasn’t even sure that it was hardy. I shall certainly be trying some from seed now.
Good luck with them. I really didn’t do anything more than just prevent the seedling pots from drying to a crisp during the summer. Obviously planting them out would have been smarter, but many smarter things are only realized in hindsight.
I like the less formal primulas like those. Very pretty! I love the white one with the purplish back. I was at Garden Visions, the epimedium nursery, a few days ago and they had some Primula sieboldiis for sale. I was very tempted, but my budget was already completely shot by that point, as you can well imagine. Good to know they are easy to start from seed…
I have a friend who has offered me a few epimedium. I have one right now but didn’t see any harm in adding a few more, so hopefully that wasn’t a big mistake 😉
A gardening friend gave me a bunch of different clumps of un-named (or lost-named) P. sieboldii many years ago and these have expanded into large patches. They are easy to grow in dense shade and dry soil under my hornbeam or in a moist, partially sunny area—they actually grow anywhere I plant them. Since then, I have purchased cultivars often misnamed as some other species, but you can recognize the characteristic look. I have them from Heronswood, Seneca Hill, Garden Vision Epimediums, plant sales, and even a wholesale flat of ‘Snowflake’ mistakenly called P. japonica. They do go dormant as I never water my garden, but their root mass is so thick that weeds can’t get in. The perfect garden plant, yours are beautiful.
That sounds very promising, I think I need to be a bit more adventurous in where I place them!
Other primula have been iffy here, but these seem relatively happy. I suspect their tendency towards summer dormancy is a big plus as far as my dry summers usually go.
I’m looking forward to someday having large patches as well!
Hope your open day goes well this weekend, and you get a few seconds to enjoy it. The weather looks perfect!
My, my, my — those are beautiful — and I can certainly understand how easy it is to fall under their spell!
Thanks Kevin. They’re nothing exotic of course, but we Northerners take what we can get!
I don’t grow Primulas, but I can admire yours. These plant obsessions can strike when you least expect them, even in the best of families. In my experience they usually subside, to be replaced by a different plant obsession.
Give me another few weeks and I’m sure I’ll be off on some new obsession. Right now I’m obsessing on trees and shrubs. Obviously that means shade plants will follow…