Annual Primrose

By: C. Colston Burrell
Annual primrose is an early spring that thrives in mild winter areas.  See more pictures of annual flowers.

Primroses are favored in mild winter areas. They're also spectacular additions to other gardens for early spring color during cool weather. The two most popular varieties for gardens are P. x polyantha, which is bred from a number of species with long stems topped by multiple flowers, and P. malacoides, the fairy primrose, which is often grown as a pot plant in the spring.

Annual Flower Image Gallery


Description of annual primrose: Primrose flowers grow from a rosette of long, narrow leaves. The color range is immense -- from a sky color to midnight blue, pinks, reds of all hues, yellow, orange, and lavender. Many of them are centered with a contrasting yellow eye; still others have narrow bands of color in the petals. Polyanthus primroses will grow up to 1 foot high.

Growing annual primrose: Where climate is favorable, including the maritime West Coast, primroses can be grown as perennials. Blooms will start in mid-winter through spring with a reprise of color in the fall when weather cools. Elsewhere, they must be grown for spring bloom. Transplant well-hardened plants into the garden as soon as the ground can be worked. They should be spaced 6 to 10 inches apart. Grow them in soil rich in organic matter and keep them moist. In most places, they're happiest with a canopy of high shade. P. malacoides is hardy in California and other mild areas.

Propagating annual primrose: By seed or by division. To break seed dormancy, store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks before sowing. Sow seeds 8 to 10 weeks before planting in the garden. Seeds germinate in 10 to 20 days at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Uses for annual primrose: Primroses can be a highlight of the spring garden in moist, woodland settings and along woodland paths and walkways. Plant them in pockets by streams or ponds. Interplant them with spring bulbs that bloom at the same time. They're also nice with pansies, forget-me-nots, and other spring flowers. In containers, they can be beautifully combined with all of the above and others. An extra bonus is the delightful fragrance many of them have.

Annual primrose related species: There are between 400 and 500 species and much interest in growing them, including a Primrose Society for aficionados. P. auricula is often grown for its variety of flowers, both in the garden and for exhibition at flower shows. P. japonica is one of the candelabra species with several whorls of flowers growing on tall stems. It is hardy and is a perennial.

Annual primrose related varieties: The favorite polyanthus types are the Pacific Giant series.

Scientific name of annual primrose: Primula species and hybrids


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