Types of Primrose with Sensible Gardening

At one time  I thought all primroses were pretty much the same but of course I was very mistaken. There are several types of primroses and more and more of them are becoming available through the nursery trade. Generally we think of primroses growing in English gardens where the climate is on the cooler and wetter side, but even in an arid garden you can find spots that will do just fine. Spring of course is cooler, which they enjoy, and small shady spots of even moisture will do the trick.

Types of Primrose with Sensible Gardening

Here is a sampling of the primroses that I like to grow, and even the smallest patch is delightful in the spring garden. Some of these will seed themselves here and there and over the years the display just gets better. If your clumps get big enough to divide, do so in the very early spring.

Primula is a very large genus which is divided into many different botanical sections. To add to the mix many hybrids have been developed. The five main types of primula are Auricula, Candelabra, Acaulis, Polyanthus and Juliana.


Rosette forming, evergreen with scalloped gray-green leaves and large pink, reddish purple or white flowers sometimes flushed pink and a white centre. Hardy to zone 4. Blooms very early in the spring.

Primrose Allionii with Sensible Gardening


Often called drumstick primrose. Rosette-forming deciduous perennial spoon-shaped leaves and spherical umbels of bell shaped flowers with yellow eyes. Very hardy to zone 2. Blooms early in the season.

Primula drumstick with Sensible Gardening


Rosette forming evergreen. Large, yellow centered, red, blue, orange, yellow, white or pink flowers. Zone 6.

Primula polyanthus with Sensible Gardening

Primula Gold Laced Group

One of my favorites. Erect, semi-evergreen with oval mid-green leaves and golden eyed, very dark mahogany-red or black flowers. Each petal has a narrow gold margin which makes them very unique. Hardy to zone 5.

Primrose with Sensible Gardening


Compact, rosette forming semi-evergreen. Blooms early in the spring with solitary wine-red flowers. Hardy to zone 4.

Primrose with Sensible Gardening


Compact, rosette forming evergreen. Flowers in a variety of bi-colours with strong yellow eyes. Blooms early and is hardy to zone 6.

Primula Joker Series with Sensible Gardening


Another favorite know as Cowslip. Rosette-forming semi-evergreen producing umbels of nodding, fragrant deep yellow or orange flowers. Hardy to zone 3.

Cow Slips / Sensible Gardening and Living


Common primrose, semi-evergreen scalloped bright green leaves with soft under hairs. Clusters of fragrant flowers both single and double forms. Of the many hybrids available some of the best are ‘Marie Crousse’, ‘Miss Indigo’ and ‘Quaker’s Bonnet’ .

Primula vulgaris with Sensible Gardening

Primula vulgaris with Sensible Gardening

(some photos by pixabay)






Tagged cowslip, drumstick primrose, english gardens, primrose, primroses, primula, primula allionii, primula denticulata, primula gold laced, primula vialii, primula vulgaris

About Lynne Cherot

It's been a life time of gardening and many years of working in the nursery trade, but now I enjoy exploring and creating in my own gardens and farm fields . I'm passionate about gardening and work alongside my husband who takes care of our apiary. Bees & flowers make a great team! Hopefully by sharing my garden knowledge, your gardening will be easier and more enjoyable.
View all posts by Lynne Cherot →

8 thoughts on “Primroses

  1. I’ve never started primula from seed, I’m probably to impatient for that. Good luck to you though:)

  2. Nice to see so many gathered in one place – I love the vialli form but find that my shady bits are just too dry for them to really thrive – mainly because the shade is created by trees. Saw them growing in drifts along with bulleyana next to a river in a Cornish garden once and they were just beautiful.

    I got hold of 4 gold-lace primulas from the local municipal nursery recently and they are doing well out in the garden. Haven’t found them to be terribly hardy in the past, but will see how this lot do. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE primula auricula – used to have loads, but they’ve disappeared over the years so am growing a new lot from seed this year – all germinated well, so hope they grow on well and thrive. Would love to make an auricula theatre and have had this project on my wishlist for years. Sigh.

  3. Another nice thing about living here. I can have lots of different primroses coming back year after year. I had the P. viallii at another house. I need to start growing it again.

  4. Wanda is a lovely little thing and I suspect you might have a hard time finding it. Viallii is quite tender but I still love it:) Your ‘Chehalis Blue’ sounds rather inviting as well.

  5. So many beautiful primroses! I can’t grow them all here in Zone 3, but I do have Primula veris, denticulata, auricula x ‘Chehalis Blue’ and a marginata in my alpine trough. I had ‘Wanda’ in my old garden and need to find it again for my new garden. The viallii is stunning. We tried it in the perennial trials when I worked there, but it didn’t come back after the first winter.

Comments are closed.