Primula primrose

(prim-uu' lah)

Common name: Primrose

Family: Primulaceae, Primrose

Height x width: 2-24" x 8-30"

Growth rate: moderate

Foliage: usually basal

Flowers: most colors, umbels, spikes, globes or solitary in spring, double may be called "hose in hose"

Hardiness: zones 3-5 to 7-9

Soil: moist, well-drained to wet depending on species

Light: part shade to shade

Pests and problems: slugs, spider mites

Landscape habit, uses: moist woodland, fronts of borders, massing, containers

Other interest: divided botanically into thirty sections, four sections important horticulturally: Auricula (P. auricula and other low-growing species, suited for cool climates or greenhouses), Candelabra (many species having whorls of flowers on long stems), Denticulata (P. denticulata), and Vernales (most popular hybrids and English primroses); Primrose society exists

Other culture: cool summers prefered, many can grow in sun in the north with amble moisture

Propagation: seed, division of plantlets, 1-2" long stem cuttings depending on species


auricula(are-i-kew' lah)--Auricula Primrose, zones 3-7, 2-8" x 8", yellow for species and usually fragrant, 2-3" long and wide leaves either with a white powdery coating (farina) or without, shallow-rooted so susceptible to winter freezing and thawing, need moderate moisture

beesiana(bee-see-aa' nah)--fragrant rose flowers with yellow centers, named for Bee's Nursery in Chester, UK

x bulleesiana(bull-ee-see-aa' nah)--cross of bulleyana and beesiana, flowers in shades of violet, wine, yellow

bulleyana(bull-ee-aa' nah)--deep reddish orange flowers with other color cultivars, named for founder of Bees Nursery A.K. Bulley

chionantha(kii-o-nan' thah)--zones 5-8, 12-24" tall, white flowers in 1-4 umbels, 6-8" leaves with yellow farina beneath, Nivales section, prefer moist soil

chungensis(chun-gin' siss)--fragrant red tubular flowers with orange petals, in whorls

denticulata(den-ti-kew-laa' tah)--Drumstick Primrose, zones 4-7, 8-10" x 12", early lilac to white and globular on top of thin stems, 4-6" leaves expanding to a foot and shaped like a spatula (spatulate), need moderate moisture

elatior(ee-laa' tee-or)--zones 5-8, 8-15" umbels in various colors

farinosa(fair-i-no' sah)--zones 5-8, yellow-throated pink flowers 4-8" tall

flaccida(flas-ci-dah')--zones 5-8, 18" tall, spice-scented lavender flowers in dense heads on farinose stems, leaves narrow elliptic and softly hairy, easy to grow in moist site

florindae(floor-in-dii')--Florinda Primrose, zones 6-8, 2-3' x 2', about 40 yellow, farinose and fragrant flowers in late spring on top of strong stems, broad and glossy leaves, requires damp site, named after discoverer Frank Kingdom-Ward's wife

frondosa(fron-do' sah)--zones 5-8, 6" tall, leaves densely farinose below, rose-lilac to red-purple flowers with yellow eyes in late spring

helodoxa(hell-ah-dox' ah)--24" tall, large golden yellow flowers with notched petals in six, 12-20 flowered whorls

japonica(ja-pon' eh-ka)--Japanese Primrose, zones 5-7, 12-24" x 24", 2-6 whorls of 8-12 purple flowers (species) on stems, 6-12" leaves 2-4" wide, requires damp site with moving water, plants cross readily

juliae(jul-ee' ii)--zones 5-8, 2" tall, rose flowers, good for alpine troughs

juliana(jul-ee-a' nah)--zones 4-8, 4-6" tall, various colors, often listed as x pruhonicensis hybrids

kisoana(kiss-o-aa' nah)--4-6" tall, pink or seldom white flowers, tolerant of dry and heat

latifolia(lat-eh-fol' ee-ah)--Sticky Primrose, rose-red in 10-25 flowered umbels, sticky foliage, may be listed as viscosa, requires alkaline soils

x polyantha (poly-an' thah)--Polyantha Primrose, zones 3-8, 8-12" x 9", many colors and hybrids some solid and some with center eye colors in umbels on 4-6" stems, small dark green leaves, prefer moist soil

x pubescens(pue-bess' ins)--auricula and rubra cross, perhaps oldest species cultivated, rose-purple flowers with white eye

pulverulenta(pul-ver-uu-len' tah)--deep red flowers with darker center in whorls, flower stem mealy, parent of many candelabra types

saxatilis(sax-a-till' iss)--zones 4-8, 12" various color flowers over long period

sieboldii(sii-bol' dee-ii)--Siebold Primrose, zones 4-8, 4-8" x 8", purple with white eye to white or rose flowers in late spring above foliage in 6-10 flowered umbels, prefer moist soils

sikkimensis(sick-i-men' siss)--zones 5-8, slightly fragrant pale yellow nodding bell flowers, later spring, prefers damp site

veris(ver-iss')--Cowslip Primrose, 8" tall, light yellow flowers in umbels in early spring, prefers moist site

vialii(vee-al' ee-ii)--Vial's Primrose, zones 5-7, 12-15" x 12", red and bright violet flowers clustered atop leafless stems, require moist and alkaline soil

vulgaris(vul-gar' iss)--English Primrose, zones 5-8, 6-9" x 9", yellow flowers (species) often with darker center borne singly, tufted and wrinkled leaves downey beneath, easy to grow tolerating dry soil, parent of many hybrids

Cultivars, other taxa species flowers other
'Akatonbo' sieboldii dark rose, lacy  
var. alba denticulata white popular
'Alba' japonica white  
'Auslese Mischung' vulgaris mix ('Michung's Selection')
Barnhaven Hybrids auricula vibrant mix subsp. bauhinii
Bartley Hybrids pulverulenta soft pink best cultivar of species
'Bewerley White' x pubescens creamy white 6-8" tall flower stems
'Blaue Auslese' vulgaris bluish 5" tall, 'Blue Selection'
'Carmina' japonica rose-red long bloom
'Cashmeriana' denticulata purple, large yellow under leaves
'Cashmeriana Rubin' denticulata carmine-red  
'City of Bellingham' juliana pink 6" tall
'Crispii' juliana pink 4" tall
'Dales Red' auricula brick red, yellow center popular
'Danova' x polyantha mix good in the South
'Dorothy' juliana pale yellow 6" tall
'Finesse' vulgaris mix 4-6" mound
'Friday' juliana bright reddish purple 4" tall
'Garryarde Guinevere':'Guinevere x polyantha      
'Giant Bouquet' x polyantha like 'Monarch', larger flowers  
'Gigantea' x pubescens bi-colors, often fragrant 6-8", gray-green leaves
'Gigas' rosea crimson, yellow eye 8" clusters large flowers
'Gold of Ophir' auricula bright yellow  
'Gold Lace' x polyantha crimson red, gold eye 6-8", heirloom
'Groenekan's Glorie' juliana lilac 6" tall
'Guinevere' x polyantha shell pink purplish foliage
'Inverewe' pulverulenta bright red from division only
'Isotaka' sieboldii white, dark pink under 8-10 flowered umbels
Jack-in-the-Green Group x polyantha pale yellow, green sepals old cultivar
'Jay-Jay' juliana bright reddish purple 4" tall
'Jim Saunders' japonica rich cherry red  
'Karryann' denticulata light mauve creamy leaf margins
Keilour Hybrids florindae yellow shades  
'Kinlough Beauty' juliana pink, light stripe 5" tall
'Lady Greer' x polyantha delicate pale yellow  
'Linda Pope' marginata mauve blue, white eye heavily farinose
'Lizzie Green' juliana deep pink 4" tall
'Miller's Crimson' japonica bright red true from seed
'Monarch' x polyantha mix or single colors  
'Mrs. J.H. Wilson' x pubescens rose-purple, white eyes  
'Pacific Giants' x polyantha mix, large from seeds
'Postford White' japonica white, large, yellow eye one of best cultivars
'Purple Seedling' juliana    
var. purpurea sieboldii purple-red  
'Purpurkissen'(Purple Cushion) juliana violet-purple 4" tall  
'Quaker's Bonnet' vulgaris deep rose, double  
'Ravenglass Vermilion':'Inverewe' pulverulenta      
'Red Dusty Miller' auricula rose-red farinaceous
'Redfield Hybrids' japonica mix  
'Ronsdorf' denticulata mix from seeds
'Rosea' japonica pink to rose true from seed
'Rowallane Hybrids' japonica mix  
'Royal Velvet' juliana rich violet-purple 4" tall
'Rubens' veris bright red 8" tall
'Rubins' denticulata carmine-red 6-12" tall
'Rubra' vulgaris rose  
subsp. sibthorpii vulgaris pink to white, doubles among earliest to bloom
'Snowflake' sieboldii white, large  
'Snow White' juliana white 4" tall
'Sumina' sieboldii wisteria blue, large  
'Mikado' auricula dark red vigorous
'Violet' denticulata purple  
'Wanda' x polyantha dark purple-red  
'Yellow Dusty Miller' auricula yellow farinaceous


©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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