Fairy Primrose – Primula malacoides

The Fairy Primrose makes an ideal house plant for the winter and early spring, when most other flowering house plants have not yet come into bloom. It is relatively inexpensive and will survive in cool conditions.

If the plant is stood in a bright cool position it will flower for three months or more. Full sun, warmth and a dry compost and atmosphere are its worst enemies. It requires humidity and should be mist sprayed.

Plants raised from seed in the greenhouse will grow quickly, reaching a height of 30-45cm (12-18in). The leaves of the plant are heart-shaped and frilled at the edges.Fairy Primrose - Primula malacoides

Cultivars and hybrids As a result of cultivation and hybridization, Fairy Primrose is available in a range of colours — in white and numerous shades of violet, pink and red. Good cultivars include the pure white ‘Snow Queen’ and ‘White Pearl’ which has a yellow centre. ‘Delight’ is a delicate shade of pink.

For bright red flowers choose from ‘Fire Chief’, ‘Ninette’ and ‘Jubilee’. Violet and purple flowering plants include ‘Lilac Queen’ and ‘Mars’.

Plant Problems

D Small brown spots on the leaves are leaf spot, caused by a fungus disease that is prone to attack plants that are underfed. Treatment: Remove affected leaves and any dead leaves on the plant, then spray with a suitable fungicide. Repeat the application after 2 weeks.

A grey deposit on the leaves is grey mould, caused by a fungus. Treatment: Remove and bum affected leaves and spray the plant with a suitable fungicide.

Poor growth may be caused by aphids, or by warm dry air.

Treatment: For aphid attacks, spray the plant with soapy water. If dry warm air is the cause, move to a cooler position and stand the pot on a tray of moist pebbles. Mist spraying will also help increase the humidity.

Through The Year


You can sow Fairy Primrose seeds as late as July, but for the best results they should be sown in February.

Sow in a tray of seed compost and sprinkle thinly on top or mix Mix sand and seeds. Cover with glass or a piece of polythene and keep at a constant temperature of 16°C (61°F).

Prick seedlings out into a tray of soil-based compost when they are growing well. Move into individual pots when they are well-established and put the plants outdoors in a shaded spot for the summer.


Established plants are easy to care for but they respond to a little attention. Bring the plants indoors in September and begin to feed when the flower stems begin to lengthen. Keep at a temperature of 10°— 13°C (50°-55°F). Plants raised from seed sown in the spring should begin to flower in December. Water and feed regularly, never let the plant dry out while it is in bloom and Veep humidity high.


This plant is very easy to care for and requires only the minimum of attention once it is established. Pinch off the withered flowers and remove any dead flowers and leaves.

  • Potting: Use a soil-based potting compost. Pot on young plants into 7.3cm (3½1n) pots. There is no need to repot.
  • Water generously, keeping the compost moist at all times. In warm conditions, mist spray daily and stand the pot on moist pebbles.
  • Feeding: Begin to feed when the flower stalks begin to develop and continue to feed at intervals of 14 days until flowering has finished.


  • Light: It prefers a bright position with filtered light, so grow in partial shade.
  • Temperature: For best results, keep at a 10°— 13°C (50°-55°F).

When to buy

  • For a long flowering period, buy in December when the plants first come into bloom.
  • Choose a plant with lots of flower buds. Avoid any with damaged leaves.
  • Fairy Primrose is a short-lived plant that will die in the spring when flowering is complete.

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