Primula vulgaris

Family: Primulaceae

Countries: Albania, Asia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Corsica, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Europe, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Sicily, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Wales, Yugoslavia

Primula vulgaris are low growing, perennials that form basal rosette shaped plants, made up of beautifully textured, wrinkled, obovate leaves.  These small plants are generally known as primroses.  Primula vulgaris are popular wild flowers; they’re often found growing in gardens, the countryside, and in urban areas across Europe.  Primroses are hardy; plants will happily survive temperatures down as low as -20C (-4F), and probably lower.

I’ve always found Primula vulgaris to be floriferous plants that happily produce a generous sprinkling of flowers any time of year; however, Primula vulgaris’ main flowering period, when you can witness these plants’ most spectacular floral display, is in springtime.  Across the UK, from March to around the middle of May, Primula vulgaris plants produce a profusion of pale yellow flowers with golden-yellow centres.  As well as being very pretty, Primula vulgaris flowers produce a lovely perfume – I think of primroses as having a truly uplifting and relaxing, sweet floral fragrance.

I adore Primula vulgaris!  There are so many reasons to recommend primroses.  These wonderful plants don’t take up much room at all; they can be grown in garden beds and borders, in wildflower meadows, up and over banks and down hillsides, as well as in window boxes and containers.  Primula vulgaris grow in almost any soil, including: chalk, loam, sandy, silty, or clay soils.  The only ground conditions I’ve sometimes seen primroses struggle in – is in perpetually water-logged soils.  Primula vulgaris thrive in peat-free composts.

Primroses grow happily with other plants and can even be grown as part of a meadow or in areas of long grass.  I’ve found that Primula vulgaris thrives in sunshine, partial and dappled shade, and shade.  In warmer areas of the country, these plants tend to do well in slightly more shaded areas; plants thrive in sheltered spots.

I love the primrose’s crinkled, veined leaves as much as I admire these charming plants’ flowers.  I give my plants a quick check over from time to time, removing any discoloured or damaged leaves, snapping them off right at the base – at ground level.  This approach really tidies up and invigorates my primroses and encourages the plants to produce lots of gorgeous new foliage!  In springtime, as my primroses’ flowers just begin to wither, I deadhead all the spent flowers – pinching out these flowering stems at the base of the plant; I’ll also remove flowers that are damaged or past their best.  At the same time, I’ll snap off leaves that aren’t in good health, while I’m here.  Then, if the soil’s dry, I’ll water my Primula vulgaris plants; this is increasingly important due to our recent trend for droughts in springtime.  Removing my Primula vulgaris plants’ spent flowers and foliage sets the plants up for another impressive flowering before spring is over.

I’ve grown primroses in many different locations across the UK.  My Primula vulgaris plants have flourished in all the various soils I’ve grown them in; my plants have seemingly relished all of the conditions they’ve experienced.  Wherever I’ve grown these plants, I’ve always found that primroses are evergreen or at least semi-evergreen; so, if you grow these plants in your garden, their small but certain presence will be felt throughout the year.

Primula vulgaris roots are popular with vine weevil larvae who will devour these plants’ roots at the earliest opportunity.  Primroses’ popularity with this pest can leave plants particularly vulnerable.  When infestations of vine weevil larvae occur, primrose and primula plants are often left decapitated and discarded on the surface of the soil or compost, rarely do any of their roots survive these encounters.  However there doesn’t need to be a negative outcome; vine weevil larvae are easy to control using biological controls.

Biological control is a term used to describe utilising the natural predators of a pest.  In this case, the vine weevil larvae are predated upon by nematodes (Steinernema kraussei, Heterorhabditis megidis, Heterorhabditis bacteriophora and Steinernema feltiae).  These specific nematodes can be purchased online and applied during the spring, summer, and autumn months – check you’ve chosen a nematode that will perform best to use at your chosen time of year and do take the time to confirm that your temperatures will be beneficial to your nematodes.  Nematodes provide an easy and effective method of protecting your primroses (and other garden plants) from vine weevil larvae.

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