Japanese primrose is a member of the garden world and one of over 400 species of primroses. Most primroses revel in an English climate calling for cool temperatures and plenty of rainfall and are at a loss in the often short spring and variable summers found over much of the United States. The species listed below performs well in this country. The genus name is a diminutive of the Latin primus, "first," alluding to the early flowering of certain European species.

: The basal foliage is a rosette with dark green, heart-shaped leaves with a scalloped edge. The plant bears tight bunches of 2-inch wide, pink or purple deckle-edged flowers on 12-inch stems. Each has a white "eye." Ease of care: Easy.

: Japanese primroses require partial shade and a good, moist soil. Unlike other primroses, the leaves disappear and plants become dormant in the summer and are spared the rigors of drought and heat.

Propagating Japanese primrose: By division or by seed.

: Primroses are unexcelled for the woodland garden or for planting among spring wildflowers in a shady spot of the garden -- even without bloom the foliage is very attractive. They make excellent cut flowers. Dormant plants may be potted up in late winter and forced into bloom at normal room temperatures.

elated varieties: The Barnhaven hybrids come in colors of frost-white, rose-red, lilac, China blue, and pink. Blossom shape varies from perfectly round to fringed to a snowflake form. Geisha Girl is shocking pink. Mikado is magenta. Ice Princess is pale blue -- darker at edges. Snowflake and Late Snow are pure white.

: Primula sieboldii

Want more gardening information? Try:
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