Primrose: Plant Care & Growing Guide

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How to Grow Primrose Indoors

Garden primroses comprise several species of the genus Primula, a group of perennials that bloom in spring in various shades of purple, red, yellow, pink, depending on the variety. The most frequently planted type in garden cultivation are hybrids and their cultivars, most of them derived from crossing P. vulgaris and P. veris.

These hybrids are called Primula x polyanthus and, in addition to being used in the garden, they are excellent, although they are generally short-lived houseplants. They have wrinkled, dark green leaves that form a low group with bright, plate-shaped flowers.

For indoor use, primrose is often sold with the expectation that it will be grown for a short period of time and then discarded once flowering is complete. It is possible to feed them in repeated blooms, but this is difficult. For the most part, you shouldn't expect a long-lasting houseplant. Instead, think of your primrose vase as a blooming Phalaenopsis orchid - it's a good visitor, but it won't survive long indoors.

This is a somewhat spoiled, slow-growing plant that is generally purchased as a mature nursery for short-term indoor display. Spring is usually when the garden centers the specimens in pots, already in flower or about to bloom. If you sow from seed or divisions, you can wait a full year, or up to three years, for the plants to reach flowering maturity.

Botanical NamePrimula x polyantha
  Common NamePrimrose
  Plant TypeFlowering perennial
  Mature Size8–24 inches (depends on variety)
  Sun ExposurePart shade or bright filtered light
  Soil TypeRich potting soil
  Soil pH6.0–7.0 (slightly acidic to neutral)
  Bloom TimeSpring
  Flower ColorYellow, red, purple, white, pink, bicolors
  Hardiness Zones3–9 (USDA); varies by species
  Native AreaSouthwestern Europe, northwest Africa, southwest Asia
  ToxicityMildly toxic to animals; non-toxic to humans


Primrose Care

When grown indoors, evening primrose requires the right combination of sunlight (bright but indirect), water (evenly moist), and food (immediately after planting) to survive.

Extend the blooming season by plucking dying flowers. Once the plant is in flower, consider moving it outside; you can get additional flowers at the end of the season.

Keep these plants in a good balance of conditions; The success of growing primrose plants is largely a matter of temperance and moderation.


When grown indoors, evening primrose prefers well-lit window sills, but should not be exposed to direct sunlight. When planting them outside, place them in a shady or stained corner.


These plants need a loose, well-draining, and very rich potting mix with a high level of humus. Most general-purpose peat-based potting soils provide this. You can make your own potting mix with uniform proportions of peat, vermiculite, and perlite.

This mix not only retains moisture well but also provides very good drainage. Outdoors, primroses prefer rich, well-drained, slightly acidic soil.


Evening primrose needs an adequate, uniform, and regular humidity to develop. They shouldn't get soggy, but don't let the soil dry out either. Look for signs of wilting and adjust watering accordingly.

When growing primroses indoors, don't overwater them. Too much water favors root rot or deadly fungal infections. Wilting, although the plant is receiving water, is a sign of root rot.

Temperature and Humidity

Evening primroses do best in moderate to low temperatures - intense heat can cause plants to wilt and fail. They grow best in temperatures between 50 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit and don't care much about temperatures above 80 degrees.

Evening primroses like high humidity, which can be achieved by using a humidifier or by placing the pan on a saucer filled with pebbles and water.


Feed with a weak liquid fertilizer at the beginning of the flowering period. Since these are not long-lived houseplants, a single application of controlled-release fertilizer may be adequate to keep them going through the blooming season.

Is Primrose Toxic?

Although not considered toxic, eating primroses can cause a reaction in horses, cats, and dogs. Some people will have skin reactions after touching the plant.

Symptoms of Poisoning

Animals that eat primroses may experience nausea and vomiting, although they rarely require medical attention. Humans can experience skin irritation and a rash when handling plants.

Primrose Varieties

For indoor growing, the best primroses are P. polyanthus cultivars, but there are also P. auricula cultivars that make good houseplants. Some notable varieties include:

  • 'Belarina Colbalt Blue': This 5- to 8-inch plant has rich blue double flowers that bloom profusely. It is a favorite for growing in pots and makes a good garden plant in zones 4 to 8.
  • 'Belarina Nectarine': This cultivar has large, fragrant, golden yellow flowers.
  • 'Zebra Blue': This variety has extra-large flowers with striped blue and white petals. It is especially long-blooming as a houseplant, flowering from late winter to spring.
  • 'Crescendo Bright Red ': This variety has dramatic flowers—red with yellow centers. Outdoors, it is suitable for zones 5 to 8. The 'Crescendo' series also offers other colors, including bright blue.
  • 'Romance': This hybrid has very large double flowers in bright pink. The flowers are edged with thin ribbons of white.
  • Primula auricula 'Cinnamon':Auricula is a species native to the rocky mountains of Europe. The 'Cinnamon' cultivar has fully double flowers in a coppery-orange color. Outdoors, auricula plants can be grown in zones 3 to 8.
  • Primula aricula 'Larry': This cultivar has rich purple flowers with lilac petals and white centers. The auricula cultivars are known for having dramatic two-tone and three-tone flowers. Other cultivars include 'Blue Velvet', 'Dale's Red', 'Harry Hotspur', and 'Sirius'.

Propagating Primrose

Although the technique is most often used for springs planted in the garden, the division of the root groups can also be used to propagate more plants from an indoor specimen. The best way to do this is after the plant has finished flowering when it tends to be discarded anyway.

Remove the entire plant from the pot, then carefully divide it into quarters, making sure each division has leaves and a good root body. Immediately replant the divisions in their own pots filled with fresh potting soil or a mixture of peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite.

You can expect the new divisions to take a full year to bloom. Their demanding and slow-growing nature is the reason why primroses are often purchased as nearly mature seedlings.

How to Grow Primrose From Seed

Although generally grown from nursery-grown plants, evening primrose can be grown from seed, although it is a challenging activity. Evening primrose is quite susceptible to smoking fungi, so expect to lose a few seedlings and don't feel bad if your experiment fails.

Also, they can take a while to mature into flowering plants; some varieties can take up to three years.

But it can still be a worthwhile activity for the simple challenge that it is. And for rare varieties, it may be the only way to grow these plants. However, it is not a suitable method for beginners who do not have patience.

  1. Use a mixture of sphagnum moss and vermiculite in seed trays and soak well before sowing.
  2. Sprinkle the tiny seeds on the surface of the potting mix and cover with a pinch of vermiculite.
  3. Place the tray in a relatively cool area with bright indirect light and keep it moist by spraying it. In a few weeks, they can sprout. Germination rates can be uneven, so don't be too disappointed with the relatively low success rate. As they grow, thin the seedlings to retain the most vigorous ones.
  4. The seedlings can be transplanted into individual pots when they have four true leaves.
  5. Seedlings can be susceptible to wetting fungi, which can be minimized by maintaining good air circulation. Some growers like to spread a thin layer of fungicide powder on the surface of seedling trays to prevent fungal infections.

As you grow them in individual pots, give the springs relatively low temperatures, bright indirect light, and keep them moist but not wet. The seedlings will grow slowly, so expect to nurture them for at least a full year, and possibly up to three years, before they reach flowering maturity.

Potting and Repotting

It is unlikely that you will make a potted evening primrose pot as they are normally grown for a very short period before being thrown away. If you do, be sure not to bury them too deep, as this is the main reason why primroses die.

Test the plants so that the top of the root is slightly elevated above the surrounding soil level. Never pile soil around the stem of a flowering plant.

Common Pests/Diseases

Evening primrose does not present a problem when planted outdoors in conditions exactly to your liking. However, as potted houseplants, they can be subject to gray botrytis mold, which often occurs in the winter months when the plants are overwatered.

Be sure to remove dead or diseased leaves to remove mold spores. A powdered fungicide can prevent disease.

Enjoy This Video Tutorial About Primrose Plant Care

Source: Spoken Garden

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