Primula 10-13°C/50-55°F; China

With the wmter-flowering primulas the principal requirement for success is cool and airy conditions, and they will do better for being in good light. Moist conditions at their roots and a moist atmosphere surrounding plants will also be beneficial, as will a soil mix with a reasonably high proportion of peat-most kinds will do well in an equal mixture of loam-based mixture and peat. Often you will find that very large plants are being sold in relatively small pots with not enough soil to keep the plants healthy. Such large plants are best potted on into larger containers as soon as they are acquired-you may then witness an improvement. The principal species are P. malacoides and P. obconica, both with light green hairy leaves in a rosette shape. The flowers, on tall stems above the leaves, are in large clusters and come in a wide range of colours; many are highly fragrant. The plants are treated as annuals and usually discarded after flowering.

People with sensitive skin would be well advised not to purchase or handle P. obconica, as there is every chance that quite severe skin irritation will be the result.

New plants are propagated from dust-like seed, but it is often better to purchase small plants and to grow them on if only a modest quantity is required.

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