Show Off Winter Color with Primroses

Nothing beats the cool-weather blooms of primroses in vibrant hues.
Story by Steve Bender

Now is the time to walk down the primrose path. Primroses put on quite a show in late winter and early spring. Most are native to cool regions of Europe and Asia. Showiest of all are the polyanthus hybrids. Clusters of flowers rising from tufts of foliage offer just about every color you could want—blue, purple, red, orange, yellow, pink, white, and more—and blooms usually sport a contrasting color in the center. You'll find a nice selection at most garden centers, greenhouses, and even some grocery stores.

Primroses do great in containers, whether displayed indoors on a countertop or table or outdoors on a porch or patio. For the one above, we filled an elegant pot with yellow, red, and purple primroses. For extra height and fullness, we tucked in button fern and dwarf 'Tête-à-tête' narcissus behind them. Variegated English ivy spilling over the edges adds the final touch. Don't have room for a large container? Just insert a single primrose in a small pot for a little reminder that spring is on its way.

Primrose Primer

  • Light: Indoors, give them bright, indirect light from a nearby window. Outdoors, place in light shade.
  • Soil: Moist, well-drained potting soil is best.
  • Fertilizer: Don't bother feeding.
  • Temperature: Keep them cool (65 degrees or below) for the longest bloom time. Protect them from frost if used outdoors.
  • Planting: Make sure soil doesn't cover the crowns of the plants.

Annual or Perennial?
About the only place in the South primroses will come back when planted in the ground is high in the Appalachian Mountains. Treat them as annuals elsewhere, simply buying new ones each February.