How to plant and care for primroses

Written by richard sweeney | 13/05/2017
How to plant and care for primroses
Primrose is often the first "color" of the season. (Public Domain)

Every landscaper or gardening enthusiast knows a shady corner can benefit from a splash of colour. Transform dark, damp garden nooks into bright spots with the luminous shades of Primroses.

Perennial Primroses bloom in a wide range of purples, yellows, reds, pinks and whites. These low-growing plants boast rosettes of foliage that send up blooms in early and mid-spring. Primroses are often the first dramatic colour of a blooming season, returning every year to herald the spring.

Understand the differences in Primroses. English Primroses (P. vulgaris) offer smaller flowers that are just less than two inches wide with radiant blooms which are available in a wide range of colours. Japanese Primroses (P. japonica) are among the easiest to grow. They feature slightly wrinkled, light green leaves and flowers in brilliant shades of red and white.

Plant Primrose in a sheltered area. Primroses are shade-loving flowers and do best when planted in moist, shadowy areas with rich, slightly acidic soil. Plant them in filtered light close to other acid-loving plants. Under the spreading canopy of a tree, or beneath the foliage of other shade lovers, Primroses provide lively splashes of colour.

Plant Primroses close to your home. On a patio, decorate with several terra-cotta pots full of vibrant Primroses for the first colour of the season. The north side of a house is often one of the shadiest and dampest areas in the garden. Plant a row of "Crescendo Hybrids" along the base of a white stucco wall for a vibrant attraction.

Partner Primroses for spectacular results. Primroses marry well with other brightly coloured flowers and are dashing with shade-loving foliage plants. Plant a colourful, shady perennial flower bed with the purple, yellow-eyed "Wanda," deep blue forget-me-nots, fiery red bleeding hearts, and coral-pink astilbes. This design offers brilliant rainbow shades.

Let Primroses peek out from underneath blooming shrubs that grow in the same acidic soil that Primroses prefer. Plant the deep red "Miller's Crimson" under a border of rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias.

Brighten dark corners by planting groups of Primroses among ferns, hostas and other foliage plants that can tolerate moist, lowlight areas. Allow the white, pink or red hues of the "Juliana Hybrids" to fuse with a range of greens in varying textures.

Dig trenches for the Primroses that are six inches deep and eight inches long. As you dig, loosen the soil along the sides of the trench.

Remove the plant from its pot by turning it upside down and knocking its rim on a hard surface. Loosen root ball with fingers.

Water well. Cover the area with a thin layer of wood chips. Primrose must be watered regularly, during dry weather, so that the soil is continually moist.

Add two cups of well-rotted compost and mix with the soil. Add a cup of water to ensure the mix is moistened well.

Set plant in hole so that it sits at the same level as it did in its container. Place in the middle of the trench. Pack the soil back into the trench around the plant.


Cover Primroses with fir branches in fall and heavy mulch in cold winter areas to protect from severe weather.

Tips and warnings

  • Cover Primroses with fir branches in fall and heavy mulch in cold winter areas to protect from severe weather.

Things you need

  • Perennial Primrose plants
  • Garden hoe
  • Compost
  • Wood chips

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