Family: Primulaceae | Genus: PRIMULA
type : Annuals, Perennials
sun exposure : Partial Shade
water : Regular Water
Plant Details

Primroses form tufts of foliage, above which rise flowering stems carrying showy, circular, five-petaled blossoms in late winter and spring. The blooms may come on individual stems, in clusters at stem ends, or in tiered clusters like candelabra up the stem.

Most primroses are native to the Himalayas and cool regions of southeast Asia and Europe, so they thrive with a combina- tion of moist, rich soil and cool, humid air. Few areas in the South supply these conditions. While most primroses listed below will grow as perennials in the zones indicated, many of them are best treated as cool-weather annuals.


primula auricula

  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • To 68 inches high, with broad, leathery gray-green leaves to 5 inches long forming rosettes to 1 feet wide.
  • Blooms in early spring, bearing clusters of fragrant, yellow- or white-eyed flowers in colors including orange, pink, rose, red, purple, blue, white, cream, and brownish.
  • Usually grown in pots.


primula elatior

  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • Leaves to 8 inches long, hairy on undersides, form foliage clumps to 10 inches wide.
  • Sulfur-yellow spring blossoms appear in many-flowered clusters on 8- to 12 inches stems.

japanese primrose

primula japonica

  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • From Japan.
  • Stout, 2 feet stems bear whorls of up to five yellow-eyed purple flowers.
  • Leaves are 69 inches long, 3 inches wide; clumps grow about 1 feet wide.
  • Among the best selections are 'Alba' (white), 'Apple Blossom' (pale pink with a red eye), 'Miller's Crimson' (red), and 'Postford White' (white with red eye).
  • Ample water; will even grow in shallow water.

juliana primrose

primula juliae hybrids

  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • Rounded, scallop-edged, bright green leaves to 2 inches long form a 10 inches-wide rosette.
  • In early spring, flowers are borne singly or in clusters on 3- to 4 inches stalks; colors include white, blue, yellow, orange, red, pink, purple.
  • Excellent for edging, woodland, rock gardens.
  • Best with regular water but will accept drier soil than most primroses.

fairy primrose, baby primrose

primula malacoides

  • Usually grown as annual (indoor potted plant).
  • Foot-wide evergreen rosettes of soft, pale green, long-stalked leaves, oval with lobed and cut edges, 13 inches long.
  • White, pink, rose, red, or lavender blooms in lacy whorls along upright, 8- to 15 inches stems.
  • Good under high-branching trees, with spring bulbs, in flower beds.
  • Tolerates light frost.
  • Available from greenhouses in late winter and early spring.

primula obconica

  • Usually grown as annual (indoor potted plant).
  • White, pink, salmon, lavender, or reddish purple flowers, 12 inches wide, in broad clusters on 1 feet stems.
  • Plants reach 1 feet wide.
  • Evergreen, roundish, hairy leaves on long stems.
  • Hairs on stems (except those of Freedom strain) may irritate skin.
  • Available from greenhouses in late winter and early spring.

polyanthus primrose

primula x polyantha

  • Zones US, MS; USDA 6-7, usually grown as an annual.
  • Often called English primrose.
  • Foliage clumps to 9 inches wide; the 8 inches-long, green leaves resemble romaine lettuce.
  • Bloom season runs from winter to early or midspring; 1- to 2 inches-wide flowers in many brilliant colors come in large, full clusters on 1 feet-tall stems.
  • Miniature Polyanthus types have smaller flowers on shorter stalks.
  • Choose from the many large-flowered strains, like Crescendo and Pacific Giant, or look for novelties such as the Gold Lace group, with gold-edged, yellow-centered, deep mahogany petals; 'Zebra Blue' with lovely blue-and-white striped petals; 'Penumbra', similar, with silver-edged petals; and 'Guinevere', with bronzy foliage and soft pink, yellow-eyed blooms.
  • All good for massing, bulb companions, or pots.

asiatic primrose

primula sieboldii

  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • Grows 1 feet high and wide, with oval, light green, deeply lobed and toothed leaves.
  • Produces white, pink, or purple, white-eyed flowers, each 1 inches wide, in clusters of 2 to 15 in early spring.
  • Many named selections in deep or light colors; flowers of some have fringed petals.
  • Leaves of all types usually die back shortly after flowering.


primula veris

  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • Leaves to 8 inches long, slightly hairy on undersides, form a clump to 10 inches wide.
  • Large clusters of fragrant, bright yellow (sometimes red or apricot) flowers are held on 8- to 12 inches stems.
  • Blossoms of 'Sunset Shades' feature yellow throats and petals in a blend of orange to deep red.

english primrose, primrose

primula vulgaris

  • Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8.
  • Tufts of leaves much like those of Primula polyantha; clumps grow about 1 feet wide.
  • Spring flowers are typically borne singly on 8 inches stalks, though some garden strains have two or three blossoms per stalk; colors include white, yellow, red, blue, bronze, brown, and wine.
  • Single series like Danova, sweet-scented Primera, and large-flowered Supreme are ubiquitous, but doubles and rose-flowered series like Belarina and Rosanna are gaining popularity.
  • Hybrids called the Kennedy Irish Primroses include 'Drumcliff', with flowers that emerge light lavender changing to white with a yellow eye, and 'Innisfree' with yellow-eyed red flowers atop bronzy purple foliage.
  • Use as edging, in woodland garden.

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