Primula (polyanthus type)
Common Name: polyanthus 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Primulaceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 7.50 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Most colors except green
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Ground Cover
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Rabbit


Primroses provide you with early spring blooms in almost every color of the rainbow. They prefer cool temperatures, a rich humus soil (lots of compost and leaf mold) and partial shade. They appreciate full sun in the spring, but must have semi-shade as the temperatures warm. They are quite tolerant of being transplanted, even when they are in bloom. They should be planted in a cool, partly shady area in the garden with rich, well-draining, slightly acid soil (pH 6.5). Primroses need to be planted so that their crown is right at soil level and at least six inches apart.

Primroses may be grown indoors if you are able to provide them with cool night temperatures of 50-60° F, high humidity, filtered sun and moist soil. Daytime temperatures must remain below 80° F. These are thirsty plants and they like having cool roots. To prolong indoor blooming, primroses should be kept in a cool environment. Another way to prolong bloom is to give regular doses of half-strength fertilizer solution. When they have finished blooming in the house it is best to plant them directly into the garden, or summer them outdoors in their pots and move back to the house at the end of the summer.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Polyanthus primroses are often erroneously called English primroses. They are generally hybrids of different varieties producing large clusters of flowers atop one foot stems. They are available in a large variety of colors. There are two distinct classes of polyanthuses. The bedding and border kinds have flowers characterized by bright colors and the florists’ or exhibition polyanthuses. The foliage of polyanthus primroses is dark green and deeply textured.

Genus name comes from the contraction of the medieval name primula veris for the daisy, meaning "firstling of spring".


Watch for aphids, mealybugs, mites and whiteflies. Excessive fertilizer buildup in soil can also be a problem. Plants do not like to be potbound.

Garden Uses

Primulas are a delightful indoor plant, a true harbinger of spring. They also will grow in the garden, but will not thrive in the heat of summer.