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!