Primrose – Primula vulgaris grandiflora

Primroses are early spring-blooming plants, which make delightful short-term house plants. They can be kept indoors until they have finished blooming.

They also grow well in window-boxes outdoors. After flowering ceases plant them in the garden, where they can provide a wealth of blooms the following year. Not all of the modern hybrids are as frost hardy as the wild plants or older hybrids.

Size and growth

Primroses are small plants and during flowering leaves hardly grow. Soon after flowering finishes they begin to make healthy new growth.

Varieties and colour

The species vulgaris is the most delicate of the cultivated Primula species. Its leaves are coarsely rippled and they decrease in width the nearer they are to the central rosette. The whole plant is very attractive and the flower is simply constructed.

You will find hybrid primroses of every imaginable colour combination. This is the result of work done by professional plant breeders. Different varieties have similar leaf rosettes, but vary greatly in stem length, colour and the way the flowers are held. The spring flowers of these have a fresh fragrance. The yellow-coloured varieties are particularly fragrant.

Display ideasPrimrose - Primula vulgaris grandiflora

Provided they are in a cool, light position they will thrive. They are ideal for north-facing windows in hallways or bedrooms. Coloured wicker baskets, china pot holders, copper troughs — just about every container you could think of would suit the primrose. Group two or three together in a deep wicker basket and conceal their individual pots with a moss blanket.

Buy plants from the florist, market or garden centre or dig them up from the garden and pot them for indoor use. If buying them choose plants with lots of buds.

Once the plants are well-established water regularly. They will bloom throughout the spring. Nip out flower stalks as the flowers fade.

A year with your plant


When flowering has ceased plant them out in the garden, or if you have space, on the patio. Choose a shady or semi-shady place.


They may bloom again. Water them- in dry periods and trim off faded flowers.

In autumn they may need protection if they are not frost hardy.


There will be a dormant period. If they survive the winter, they will bloom in the garden or you can pot them up again in February to bring indoors.

Plant Problems

  • Root crown rots, plant withers. This is caused by over watering or planting too deep.
  • Treatment: Little hope of recovery but plant it in the garden just in case survival is possible.
  • Brief flowering and no new buds.
  • Treatment: Plants have been kept too warm. Cut back old flower stalks and remove any yellow leaves. New leaves will appear and blooming may recommence.
  • Grey velvety patches on leaves is due to mould. Occurs when humidity too high and temperature too low.
  • Treatment: Spray carefully with a fungicide and move plant to a warmer spot with better ventilation.
  • Flower stalks/leaves droop. This is caused by lack of water.
  • Treatment: Water well and keep it evenly moist.


Easy to care for while they are indoors during the spring and early summer. Outdoors they may need frost protection during the autumn and winter.

Potting: Pot up in a soil-based potting mixture, with a little sand or grit added.


Water moderately during spring flowering. Water once or twice a week, making sure that they never dry out completely. Outdoors in summer, water more generously, keeping permanently moist.

Feeding: Add liquid fertilizer every fortnight during flowering period.


Light: Primroses need a sunny but not too warm position to maintain blooming as long as possible.

Temperature: Keep them at around 15°-17°C (600— 64°F) throughout their stay indoors. The cooler they are the longer they will bloom.

When to buy

The bright and cheerful plants are usually available from November to April.

What to look for

Choose plants with green and juicy looking leaves and stiff flower stalks, with plenty of buds.


Mostly used as a short-term gift plant. If it is frost hardy you can plant it out in the garden after flowering. It may bloom the next year.

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