THE AMERICAN PRIMROSE
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Auke Bay. AK 99821 USA
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This section contains small, often farinose, plants which
inhabit marshes or stream beds. They are excellent subjects for troughs,
planters, or shady rock garden. The flowers may be lavender, pink, rose or
white. Many have a brief life cycle and can be propagated easily by division or
These species are without farina, usually small, moisture and
shade-loving. In nature, they grow in meadows and bogs and will not tolerate
drought conditions. They can be propagated best by fresh seed and division.
These rhizomatous, evergreen plants often have lobed leaves with
distinct petioles. The most common, P. sinensis, is not hardy in winter frost
areas. Primula sinensis has dinstinctive, bonnet-shaped calyces.
This section contains leathery-leaved, evergreen alpine plants
which, when not in bloom, are often mistaken for succulents. Many are commonly
grown in a moist section of the rock garden. Some of the exhibition auricula
hybrids have been cherished by gardeners for centuries. Propagation is by
offsets or seed.
As the name implies, the flowers are contained in dense
head-like umbels. Plant parts are generally farinose and hairy. White farina
dusting the dark purple flowers adds to the charm of these late-flowering
plants. Plants need partial shade with adequate summer moisture and good
drainage. Propagate by fresh seed or division after flowering.
These woodland species are deciduous, or rarely evergreen, with
soft, hairy leaves. The stems hold umbels of white, pink or purple flowers well
above the leaves. Some species, like P. sieboldii , can be found
in a wide variety of flower colors and forms. Easy to cultivate, they can be
propagated by seed or division as the leaves emerge in the spring.
These tall, stately plants inhabit wet meadows, screes or bogs.
The species are deciduous, forming large winter resting buds. They do best in a
cool summer climate, but the vigorous root system needs good drainage during
wet winter months. Propagate by seed or division.
This section contains small, alpine tundra plants with glossy
green, dentate leaves. Flowers, typically white, pink or rose, are held above
the leaf rosettes in generous umbels. They are best grown in partial shade in
pots or troughs in a well drained, peaty soil mix, with some protection against
winter wet. Propagate by seed, division or cuttings.
This is the “Drumstick Primula” section. These robust perennials
send up tight, spherical flower heads early in the spring. Flowering often
occurs just as the long, leathery leaves are emerging from a winter resting
bud. Easy to cultivate, most species can thrive in any soil condition, provided
they do not dry out in the summer. Plants can be propagated by seed, division
or root cuttings.
As the name implies, these species often bloom only once. The
most common, P. malacoides , is a popular plant for a cool
greenhouse or conservatory. Not hardy in cold climates, they are often used as
an early blooming, bedding plant in warmer areas. The hairy leaves with farina
on the underside combined with clouds of purple, rose, lavender, pink or white
flowers make an attractive container plant. They can be easily grown from seed.
These short-lived perennials contain some of the most striking
and unusual primulas. In nature, they are found in wet meadows as the snow
recedes. All have deciduous basal leaves and spikes or dense heads of small,
usually fragrant, flowers. P. vialii resembles a red-hot poker
with scarlet calyces and blue violet flowers giving the appearance of a blue
poker with a red tip. It flowers later than most primulas. All species are
propagated from seed or division.
These small to medium-sized perennials bloom very early in the
spring. Above smooth-textured, toothed leaves rises a stalk of bright rose
pink, yellow-eyed flowers. The leaves continue to elongate as the blooming
season progresses. The most commonly grown species, P. rosea , is
best grown in a rich, wet soil that does not dry out in the summer. Propagation
is by division as it comes into spring growth or by seed.
The best known of the primula sections, this one includes the
common primrose (P. vulgaris ), the cowslip (P. veris
) and the oxlip (P. elatior ) as well as many horticulturally
important hybrids. Easy to grow in fertile, water retentive soil, they can be
free- flowering and long lived. Most are winter hardy, by should not be allowed
to dry out in the summer. Propagation is by division after flowering or by
Earlier named the Candelabra Section, the flowers appear in
whorls on tall stalks. These robust perennials are easy to grow in a moist,
fertile soil that does not dry out. They make excellent bog or stream side
plantings that flower in May and June. The flowers are very attractive to
hummingbirds and butterflies. Depending on the species, the flowers can be
found in almost every color except blue. Propagation is by division as they
come into growth or by seed.
Small to very robust, deciduous perennials are found in this
Himalayan section. Their natural habitat is a monsoon climate in bogs, alpine
meadows or along streamsides. The largest and most commonly grown species
(P. florindae, P. sikkimensis, P. alpicola ) are excellent choices
for the bog garden or along streams. The yellow, fragrant, farinose flowers of
P. florindae and P. sikkimensis are held in umbels on
stems from 12 to 30 inches tall making a striking statement in a semi-shady
location. Propagate by division or seed.
With flowers like a very fragrant soldanella, these plants are
extremely beautiful, but somewhat difficult to grow. The bell- shaped white or
lavender flowers are very large in comparison to the small stature of the
plant. They are usually grown in containers with a humusy, but well-drained
soil mix that is watered regularly in the summer, but kept almost dry in the
winter. The containers should be placed in a cool, semi-shady location during
the summer. They are best propagated by seed.
The species in this section are not hardy in colder climates.
However, they make excellent container plants in a cool room or conservatory.
The bright yellow flowers appear from Decenber to April above leaves often
covered with white meal. A peat-based soil should be kept rather dry during the
winter and more moist during the summer months. Hybridization of two of these
species gave rise to the popular P. x kewensis . Propagation is
primarily by seed.
Some experts list this monospecific group as a separate genus;
one source classes it as a subgenus and section of primula. Primula
grandis has pale yellow, nodding, urn-shaped flowers with a style that
extends beyond the petals. An umbel containing large numbers of flowers tops a
sturdy stalk about 30 inches tall. The basal leaves are rounded with a
heart-shaped base. These plants require adequate moisture, nutrients and a
cool, partially shady location. Propagation is primarily by seed.