Perennial Primula

Primula japonica – The Japanese Primrose is a candelabra type with 1 to 6 tiers of fragrant red, pink or white flowers on stems reaching 18-24″ tall at maturity. Blooming later than most (May to July), it prefers part sun, rich evenly moist soil and is generally a long-lived perennial. ‘Miller’s Crimson’ is the variety pictured. Zone 5 hardy.

Primula bulleyana – This Award of Garden Merit winner bears fragrant blooms of yellowish-orange in tiered whorls averaging 2′ tall. It is a candelabra-type that really looks best when mass planted and it tolerates full sun in cool coastal gardens with evenly moist soils. This native Chinese species is long-lived and zone 5 hardy.

Primula denticulata – The Drumstick Primrose never fails to impress with its 12″ tall single pom-poms of white, pink, lilac, carmine and lavender-blue flowers. Blooming in early spring, they prefer part sun with evenly moist soil and they can be prone to self-seeding (which can be good or bad, depending on your perspective). Divide older plants after flowering. Zone 2 hardy.

Primula veris – The April to May bright lemon yellow blooms of the much-loved (especially by British expats) English Cowslip are wonderfully fragrant atop their 10″ tall stems and they are incredibly easy to grow. This species prefers part sun and even soil moisture and is a classic woodland perennial for the forest edge – it can also be grown in full sun in coastal British Columbia. Zone 3.

Primula vialii – The Chinese Pagoda Primrose is an odd-looking species with cone-shaped crimson and violet-blue blossoms atop 1′ to 2′ tall stems. Although perennial, it can be short-lived, so be sure to deadhead spent flowers (or you can leave a few to mature and self-seed to perpetuate itself) and divide every 2 to 3 years. Blooms late spring into early summer and is zone 4 hardy.


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