How to prune english primrose after flowers are spent

Updated February 21, 2017

English primrose, or Primula vulgaris, always seems to be a favourite among gardeners for its vibrant spring colour and how easy it is to care for. The flower has a delicate fragrance that attracts birds, butterflies and bees. The plant thrives in well-drained but constantly moist soil, according to the Michigan State University Extension. Pruning English primrose after the flowers are spent should become a routine to carry out in the fall before your garden settles in for the winter.

Pinch off or remove spent flowers and dead stems from your plant in the early fall with a pair of small pruning shears or sharp scissors if your plant is small. Pinch off the dead leaves. Discard the cuttings or add them to your compost bin, but only if there is no sign of fungal infection.

Lift the foliage from the base of your plant and trim off the bottom leaves and stems with a sharp pair of scissors. You can prune a primrose down to the soil if you have had problems with fungal infections, but it is best to do that in the late summer when the flowers are spent and not the fall. Severe pruning stimulates growth in many perennials like the primrose. If new growth starts during the cold months, it could send your plant into shock. English primrose in cold winter climates can be mulched over after trimming. Remove the mulch in late February or early March so that the plant can bloom.

Bury your English primrose further into the ground if you are having a problem with the plant coming to the surface. This can happen with many older plants. Do your fall pruning and then dig up your primrose and plant it a bit deeper. Make sure you leave the crown uncovered above the surface.

During the growing season, prune off dead flowers and stems when they shrivel up and turn brown. This will keep your English primrose attractive and encourage new growth.


Check your primrose routinely for signs of fungus. Keep leaves away from the ground to lessen the chance of invasion by spider mites.

Things You'll Need

  • Small pruning shears
  • Sharp scissors
  • Mulch
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About the Author

Rebecca Miller has been a ghost writer for web since 1999. Miller was the editor and writer of a national in-print newsletter for AlterraHealth. She is a certified Registered Activity Coordinator and Life Enrichment Specialist working with the cognitively impaired.