Primula bulleyana

Common Name: primrose 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Primulaceae
Native Range: Southwestern China, Myanmar
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Orange
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Clay Soil, Wet Soil


Best grown in consistently moist to wet, neutral to acidic, well-draining, rich, humusy loams in part shade. Tolerant of poorly-drained clay soils. Can be grown in full sun in climates with cool summers as long as the soil is not allowed to dry out. Requires afternoon shade in hot summer climates. Readily self-seeds. Hardy in USDA Zones 5-8.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Primula bulleyana, commonly called Bulley's primrose or candelabra primrose, is a herbaceous perennial native to wet, montane meadows and stream banks in southwestern China. Mature plants form basal rosettes reaching around 1' tall with an equal width. The foliage is elliptic to oblanceolate in shape, has finely toothed margins, and reaches around 8.5" long and 3" wide. Flowering scapes reaching up to 2' tall emerge from the center of the rosettes from early to mid-summer bearing 5-7 whorls of 6-16 flowers. The tops and the nodes of the scapes are covered in a white, waxy powder called farina (from Latin meaning "flour" or "meal") that is produced by minute, glandular hairs. The bell or funnel-shaped blooms are orange and can reach 0.5" long and 0.75" wide. The flowers are attractive to butterflies and other insect pollinators.

The genus name Primula means "little earliest one" and is the feminine diminutive of the Latin primus.

The specific epithet bulleyana honors Arthur Bulley (1861-1942), English amateur naturalist and nursery owner. Bulley provided the funds for botanist George Forrest (1873-1932) to travel to southwestern China and collect plants suitable for growing in England.

The common name candelabra primrose is often applied to a number of primroses in section Proliferae. They are characterized by having tiered whorls of blooms.


Watch for aphids, slugs, and spider mites. Susceptible to botrytis and root rot.


Pond or bog edges, moist areas of alpine gardens, cottage gardens, mixed border fronts, woodland gardens.