Primula veris ‘Sunset Shades’ – Imagine the much-beloved Cowslip in a variety of colours such as orange, red and yellow, or even bicolor blooms. The flowers are still fragrant and appear from March to May in coastal gardens (later in colder climates). This primula prefers part to full sun with fertile soil and even moisture. Grows 8-10″ high by 10-12″ wide. Zone 3.
Primula x ‘Francisca’ (syn. ‘Francesca’, ‘Green Lace’, Polyanthus ‘Francisca’) – This beauty was discovered in a Surrey BC traffic island by the eagle-eyed gardener Francisca Darts. It bears fringed jade green flowers with starry yellow centers from March to July and makes a great conversation piece in a planter. Divide every 2-3 years. Grows 4-8″ high by 6-8″ wide. Hardy to zone 5.
Primula auricula Hybrids – These plants have distinctive thick evergreen leaves, often with a white waxy bloom. They bear fragrant yellow, red, purple, mauve and pink flowers (with a yellow eye) from March to May. Auricula hybrids were very popular during the Victorian era but they resent our wet coastal winters. Grows 6-8″ high and wide. Hardy to zone 3.
Primula capitata – This native of Tibet, Bhutan and India blooms later than most perennial primula, bearing tubular purplish-blue flowers clustered in flattened spheres from late spring into early summer. The subspecies mooreana has dark violet blooms with silvery highlights. Prefers part to full sun with evenly moist, fertile soils. Grows 12 to 16″ high and wide. Hardy to zone 5.
Primula vulgaris ‘Miss Indigo’ – This double English primrose is a cottage garden favourite with dark violet-blue flowers finely edged in silver from early to late spring. It is a semi-evergreen perennial with rosette forming deep green leaves and prominent veining. ‘Miss Indigo’ prefers even soil moisture and partial shade. Grows 4 to 6″ high by 6 to 8″ wide. Hardy to zone 4.