Primroses: Not Just a Spring Phenomenon


Submitted 5 months ago
Created by
Henry Homeyer

Most gardeners have a few primroses. They are bright, easy and early. Starting in April and throughout May, many kinds of primroses strut their stuff. But there is one later primrose, the candelabra primrose (Primula japonica), that is still blooming vigorously for me. And has been since May 20 or so.

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Perhaps 20 years ago someone gave me a cardboard box with 7 primroses in it. “Henry, you want these? Someone gave them to me, and I’m not into gardening.” I rarely, if ever, turn down a free plant. I saw that they were primroses and figured out they were Primula japonica. I planted them in a shady area with rich, dark soil beneath some old wild apple trees – and promptly forgot about them.

Candelabra primroses drop seeds and spread all on their own.

The following spring these primroses appeared and bloomed. I was delighted that each plant produced 3 or 4 flushes of blossoms. The stems got taller with time, and as they grew, the produced new rings of blossoms around the central stem. Some were a deep magenta, others nearly white, while still others showed a nice pink. Later, someone else gave me another half dozen plants or so.

Now, some 20 years after the initial gift, I have 500 or more plants and give away some every year. How did they propagate? By seed, all on their own initiative. What had been a shady area with a poor excuse for a lawn is now what I call my “primrose garden”. It is so beautiful that I set out chairs near it so I can sit and admire the beauty. 

The blossoms appear in groups for a month or more

If you want your own primrose garden, select a shady area with soil that is moist, not dry. Under an old apple tree is perfect, generally. If the soil is not rich, add plenty of compost at planting time. Then stand back, and let them grow! Sometimes Mother Nature does us favors. I consider myself blessed.

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