Plant a rainbow of colour to welcome in spring by packing patio pots and filling flower beds with primulas and polyanthus. These cheerful bedding plants offer great value, flowering their hearts out for weeks on end to brighten your outlook on even the dullest of days.
New varieties are continually being bred offering outstanding garden performance, larger flowers and better resistance to the vagaries of our weather. Although single-coloured flowers are always popular also look out for bicolours, double and rosebud types, plus wonderfully scented new varieties too.
Bold blocks of primulas always look striking, but impressive displays can also be created by combining them with other spring bedding, flowering bulbs and foliage plants too. Small pot grown plants are available now in full flower, making them perfect for creating instant displays in any garden, patio or courtyard.
Primulas are one of the most popular wildflowers too. Make your own grassy meadow or plant banks, verges and other natural areas with dainty Primroses (Primula vulgaris) and Cowslips (Primula veris). Keep watered if conditions are dry and these hardy perennials will quickly establish, flowering and setting seed to slowly spread and cover the area with their progeny.
Primula enthusiasts often move on from growing bedding varieties to picking choice varieties of Auricula to grow and display in small terracotta pots on patios or shelved Auricula Theatres. A Victorian favourite, hundreds of exquisite varieties of these evergreen perennials have been bred over the years. Many have deeply coloured and patterned petals surrounding a white or golden eye, with rosettes of leathery leaves often intriguingly coated with a powdery bloom.
TOP PRIMULAS FOR SUMMER COLOUR
For damp shady sites and boggy or poolside gardens there are several Asiatic primulas that flower from late spring through into summer. Look out for:
Japanese Candelabra Primula (Primula japonica)
Chinese Candelabra Primula (Primula beesiana)
orange Bulley’s Candelabra Primula (Primula bulleyana)
or hybrids between them. Plant in spring so plants develop strongly to establish and bloom well this summer.
TOP TIPS FOR GROWING PRIMULAS
- Deadhead regularly to remove faded flowers and keep displays looking their best.
- The compost in patio pots can get waterlogged during wet weather, so always put a layer of coarse gravel or similar drainage material in the base of pots before filling with compost.
- Raise pots off the ground by standing them on ‘feet’ to avoid drainage holes in the base of pots getting blocked.
- Temporarily move pots to a sheltered position if snow or bad weather is forecast.
- Cheeky sparrows and other birds sometimes peck at primroses, damaging their blooms. It’s hard to stop these antics, especially with plants growing in borders, but try moving pots closer to the house to scare them away. Some people have noted that blue varieties often avoid their attentions.
- Fancy growing primulas from seed? Check the flower seed range in your local garden centre to see what’s available.
SPRING PLANTING COMBINATIONS FOR PRIMULAS
Choose from a range of spring bedding plants, flowering bulbs and hardy perennials to create colourful displays for patio pots and flowerbeds. Here are some ideas of the flowers you could choose as companion plants for primulas and polyanthus.
- Bedding Daisies (Bellis)
- Bugle (Ajuga)
- Daffodils and Narcissus
- Forget-me-nots (Myosotis)
- Grape Hyacinths (Muscari)
- Pansies and Violas
- Sweet William
- Wallflowers (Erysimum)