Primroses (Primula) provide a good mood in winter grey with varied, cheerfully colourful flowers. They are among the first flowering plants in the new year and thus live up to their name, because “Primula” means “the first”. Primroses are mainly known as small pot plants from the supermarket. However, primroses are actually very persistent wild and garden shrubs that are native to the entire northern hemisphere. The genus Primula comprises over 400 species and continues to grow through new crosses. Auricles (primula aurikula) occupy a special position. In England, lovers present their treasures at Aurikel shows, where the most beautiful are awarded prizes.
The majority of primroses are perennial, deciduous, herbaceous plants that form an underground rhizome network. Primroses are resistant and not very demanding, which makes them an easy-care garden plant. The flowers of the primrose, which appear from February to May, usually consist of closely spaced small inflorescences which, depending on the type, resemble umbels, panicles or grapes. Almost all colours are represented, from white to yellow, pink and red to violet, whereby the throat is almost always rich yellow. The flowers of the primrose sit on a slightly hairy stem up to 25 centimeters high, sometimes upright, sometimes nodding, growing up from a rosette of leaves. Some wild species resemble a bunch of keys in the arrangement of their flowers, which has given them the trivial name Primula veris (Primula denticulata), Primula denticulata (Primula Vulgaris hybrids), Primula obconica (Primula denticulata), Primula malacoides (Primula malacoides) and Primula rosea (Primula rosea). The Primula bulleyana and Primula Bullesiana hybrids are also particularly pretty, with the flowers arranged along the stem in a lively manner. They bloom a little later than other primrose species, between June and July, sometimes even into August and grow up to 50 centimeters high.
Watch your step! Most primrose species contain the contact allergen Primin, which can lead to skin irritations and allergic reactions. It may therefore be advisable to wear gloves when planting. When consumed abundantly, the active ingredient causes stomach pain and nausea. The plants should therefore be placed out of the reach of children or pets.
Planting and care
Most primroses are offered in spring as decorative flowers in small plastic pots. This gives the appearance of a disposable article. In fact, however, the small early flowering plants are perennial and can easily be planted out in the garden in spring or autumn. Most primrose species prefer a nutrient-rich subsoil in sun or semi-shade. For this purpose, some compost should be worked into the substrate during planting. Primroses thrive both in the pot and in the bed. The Rose Primrose is particularly suitable for planting at the edge of ponds and for other very damp substrates, as it does not react as sensitively to wet feet as its sisters. If they have enough space in the borders, primroses spread through their rhizomes quite quickly. The easy-care flowering plants do not need much attention, only the flowered and damaged plant parts should be regularly cleaned out. Always keep the substrate moist but not wet. Drought and full summer sun do not like primroses. For budding in spring, a complete fertilizer can be used to help you get started. Further fertilizer application over the year is then no longer necessary in humus soils.
Especially at the beginning of the year pot primroses are offered everywhere. They are therefore often the star in colourful arrangements on the windowsill or in front of the front door. Primroses should be arranged in small groups both in the flower box and in the bed. Together with tulips or daffodils, the colourful early flowering plants awaken spring feelings. Later in the year, horn violets, ranunculus, bellis and spring marguerites follow as suitable plant partners. In a clearly visible place, embedded in soft moss, surrounded by a wreath of willow or combined with green plants such as ivy and pot grasses, they become stylish eye-catchers. Primroses (Primula elatior) are a conspicuous phenomenon, because their flowers are located on stems about ten centimeters high. The primroses (Primula denticulata) also raise their flower balls to the sky, and the rose primroses, which were traded as treasures only a few years ago, celebrated their breakthrough some time ago with varieties in yellow, white, orange, red and blue. Their particularly densely filled flowers spread a nostalgic charm. Not only in the pot, also in the garden the primrose is a pretty messenger of spring. It is suitable for underplanting hedges, shrubs and trees. Since the primrose partially retreats into the soil in autumn, it should be combined with ferns, grasses or late flowering shrubs in the bed. And even as a cut flower the long-stemmed primroses are well suited – together with other low early flowering plants they can be combined to pretty spring bouquets.
Since many primroses originate from the alpine region, they are generally quite frost hardy in the bed. Especially the Pissen-Primel, which is one of the best-selling pot plants, is a hardy perennial which likes it better in the flower bed than in the pot. Only during severe night frosts should the primrose flowers be covered. Primroses in a pot are best wintered in a bright, cold place.
Primroses form subterranean rhizomes, so their reproduction is very easy. After flowering, the small plants can simply be divided with a spade and re-inserted at least 20 centimeters further. Primroses can also be propagated by sowing. Some species sow themselves.
Diseases and pests
The robust primrose plants are extremely resistant to diseases. If the plant is too wet, grey mould (Botrytis) or root and stem rot may occur. Decay manifests itself as pale green discoloration or wilting of the leaves. The only thing that helps here is transplanting. Dispose of mouldy plants. Pest infestation is rarely observed in planted primroses. Sometimes the big-mouthed weevil finds taste in them. In glasshouses, on the other hand, aphids, miner flies or spider mites frequently occur.