When I look at plant catalogs or browse the Internet, especially on sites like Pinterest, I am always enamored with photos of primroses. This time of year in January, you will see the mass production of the hybrids all over the grocery stores. They are so bright and cheery, that I always have to buy one or two or three. I definitely have a primrose passion. I have often given them as gifts, especially to teachers around Valentine’s Day, when my kids were small. Who would not love a beautiful flowering plant in February?
I have found that the grocery store primrose does not last in my garden though I have tried. I do, however, have a beautiful patch of primroses that were generously shared with me by a dear friend who got hers from her dad, Dino, who was a great gardener. Dino’s primroses have been with me for quite a few years and are one of the first things to bloom in my garden.
You can see in the picture above that this primrose is slightly different from the grocery store ones. These have a bright yellow center, surrounded by pinky-red petals with the slightest white border. The flowers are grouped on stems like a tiny bouquet of their own. They flower for a short time while leaving the leaves for the rest of the season, and have managed to come back every year I’ve had them. So I did some digging to find out more about the specific variety of Dino’s primroses, so that I can have more primroses like them in my garden.
Let me tell you that it was not easy. I had no idea that they are over 425 species of the genus Primula which is the scientific name for primrose. In addition, every year, new hybrids are introduced, adding to the confusion. I finally settled on the Primula polyanthus or Primula x polyantha from an article from Cornell University found here.
A couple of other standout primroses I would like to try are Primula denticulate and Primula auricula.
P. denticulate, also known as the “drumstick” primrose, comes from the Himalayan areas of Asia. It has a unique, lollipop flower cluster on top of fairly straight stems and loves a wet area of the garden.
P. auricula are extremely showy. They are a collector’s item for many, and you will even find that many people collect them and showcase them in “theaters,” which are open shelving units with a roof on top, to showcase the plants and shield them from too much rain or strong sun. Check out some fantastic auricular theaters on Pinterest and some great close up pics here.
It’s that time of the season when I start to dream of garden plans for the upcoming new year, and this year, I am definitely adding some new Primulas to the mix.